Jane Leung
May 3, 2010

Top 10 TV ads over the past 10 years

This month we want to give a special mention to some of the best television commercials produced over the past 10 years. Here are the Grand Prix film category winners from the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival from 2001 to 2009.

Top 10 TV ads over the past 10 years

Tracking back to 2001, Fox’s Sports Network is the Grand Prix winner for four of its commercials titled ‘China’, ‘Turkey’, ‘Russia’ and ‘India’. The series features a news segment on local sporting events that only the locals care about. Agency Cliff Freeman and Partners is behind the ad.



Nike’s ‘Tag’ by Wieden & Kennedy Portland topped the charts in 2002. The agency turned the entire city into a game zone for tagging anyone wearing Nike.



Ikea in the States outshines everyone in 2003 with an ad titled ‘Lamp’. Crispin Porter + Bogusky Miami and creative director Alex Bogusky is behind the ad. The minute long commercial is about an abandoned table lamp. Cold and alone, most people would feel sorry for the poor lamp. A Swedish man (Ikea originated in Sweden) appears towards the end to bust the depressing mood and remind consumers that feeling sentimental about furniture is plain crazy.



TBWA London scooped the Grand Prix in 2004 for Sony Corporation’s PlayStation 2 ad ‘Mountain’. The creative director at the time was Trevor Beattie. In addition to Cannes, this ad also won 40 awards in other major awards shows including Clio, New York Festival, D&AD and Advertising Creative Circle.

The 60 second-long commercial cost US$7.6 million and was aired in 30 countries including Asia. Set in Brazil, ‘Mountain’ is part of a bigger campaign series titled ‘Fun, Anyone?’ 1,500 actors were recruited over for the six-day shoot.



Another London agency, Wieden + Kennedy is the 2005 winner for Honda’s ‘Grrr’ ad, with a special credit to art director Sean Thompson. The project is to promote the i-CTDi diesel engines in the UK. With a budget of only $922,174, W+K managed to pull in 37 awards for this campaign which saw sales on Honda products shoot up by 35 per cent.



Guinness tracks back on evolution with ‘notitulovE’ in 2006. Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO is behind the $1.9 million ad campaign under the leadership of executive creative director Johnnie Burn. This is the fifth ad in a series part of a larger project for Guinness around the ‘Good things come to those who wait’ concept. It took 30 awards in total. The commercial shows that human kind has waited 500 million years for the perfect glass of beer.

The aim of the campaign was to improve declining beer sales in the UK. As a result, Guinness returned an increase in profit of 3.6 per cent while the rest of the market dropped by 4 percent.

William Bartlett, who is known for his contribution to BBC’s television documentary Walking with Dinosaurs, managed the post-production work.



2007 is the big year for Unilever’s Dove brand. Ogilvy & Mather Toronto created the controversial ‘Evolution’ ad which prompted the Cannes jury to switch the entry from the ‘fundraising & appeals' category to ‘corporate image’. This win marks the first online advertisement ever to win at Cannes.

This is the first commercial for Dove’s ‘Campaign for real beauty’, which later sparked many parodies across the globe. The noise it created across all media boosted the campaign to an estimated worth of $230 million. The ad tells the real story behind the beautiful models we see on advertisements. The creative directors involved are Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk.



There are two winners for the Grand Prix in 2008. First, Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate’s ‘Gorilla’ by Fallon London. The 90-second TV and cinema spot is the focus of a $9.5 million campaign. The original ad features Phil Collins’ song ‘In the air tonight’. The creative director is Juan Cabral.

Cadbury had a tough year in 2006 due to product recalls and a manufacturing error on allergy warnings. It then appointed Fallon to revamp its image around the concept of ‘effortlessly enjoyable’. The ads are made to entertain through a viral marketing effect. The project induced a 9 per cent growth in sales and 20 per cent more people favouring Cadbury after the launch.



The second big winner in 2008 is Microsoft for its XBox 360 game Halo 3. It’s under the 'Internet Film' category and the first duo Grand Prix that Cannes Lions have ever given out (in our record from 2004 onwards). The online series is based on the concept of ‘Believe’ and the four winning short films are: Enemy Weapon, Gravesite, John117 Monument and Hunted. Scott Duchon and Geoff Edwards are the group creative directors.

Agency TAG San Francisco takes the game into reality and made the ads in a documentary style. It is said to have cost $10 million. Veterans from an epic ‘Human-Covenant war’ look back at their admirable Master Chief, missions and sacrifices.



Last year, Philips emerged as the ultimate winner at Cannes Lion 2009 for ‘Carousel’ by Tribal DDB Amsterdam. The web-based project advertising the Cinema 21:9 LCD television model marks the second time an online advertisement has won in Cannes history. The global creative director involved was Neil Dawson.

Philips was ordered to produce a informative campaign to educate consumers on the new LCD. With the support of an interactive website, the commercial tells the story of a conspiracy involving policemen and robbers. Users can skip between the actual commercial and the behind-the-scene film on the website to experience the real movie production process.

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