Brand power: the food ads that made us think

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Twelve years since M&S’ infamous ‘This is not just food’ campaign was taken off the air, it’s making a comeback this Spring/Summer - but with a twist. For many, the campaign’s much mimicked phrase “This is not just food, this is M&S food” became a household joke. Thanks to the campaign, M&S food signified indulgence, quality and comfort.  

This got us thinking, what makes a great advert? Does it make you sit up and think? Humour you? Get you to take action? 

The team weighed in on memorable ads of past and present. Ads that inspire, humour and intrigue us (or that just make us really damn hungry!). 




“For me it’s got to be KFC’s FCK campaign. Hot off the heels of running out of chicken, they placed a cheeky, full place apology ad in The Metro. Sometimes it pays to be bold, admit you’re wrong, and say sorry. Crisis management at its best.” 

Fiona Hamilton – associate director 


KFC - ‘Guys, we’re flattered’ 

“This campaign takes aim at all the other little chicken shops that try to be like KFC. Very simple but quite cheeky and very clever.” 

Lois Spall – senior account manager 


Australian Bananas and Aussie Mandarins fruit adverts 

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“When I was growing up in 90s Australia there were some classic ads played during after school TV shows to encourage kids to eat fruit. The most popular – and enduring, if my renditions around the William Murray fruit bowl are anything to go by – are the banana and mandarin adverts. They clearly worked, I still eat mountains of both!” 

Anna Berry – account manager 


Carlsberg’s - “Probably NOT the best beer in the world” rebrand and NPD  


“I was quite impressed with the new Carlsberg advert – probably not the best beer in the world. Recognising that they’ve gone after profits rather than quality so they held their hands up and used it as an angle to promote their new quality product.” 

Emma Hawley – account director

"It’s refreshingly honest and great brand perception. I personally don’t drink Carlsberg because I don’t think it stands up to the taste of my preferred Heineken or Peroni (which is more expensive) however as Carlsberg have read consumers’ minds and acknowledged this, it makes me want to try the new drink in order to see if they have changed.” 

Charlie von Wedl – new business development exec 


KFC – Try one before you turn vegan 


“A cheeky little ad. I love the way it takes a trend and uses it to stimulate customer loyalty. Nice one KFC!” 

Anita Murray – CEO 


Cadbury - Gorilla  


“The Cadbury’s Gorilla ad is without a doubt one of my favourite ads of all time. Simply put, it was just a commercial that had a large gorilla sitting at a set drums who goes on to play along to Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight” but really it was just so much more than that. I loved it as it really broke the mould and moved away from the traditional advertising approach that can often feel overwhelming with its messaging.  

“This ad is simplistic yet so powerful – which explains why it went viral. It captures your attention immediately and evokes feeling whilst being entertaining. How can you not watch it over and over?” 

Victoria Joseph - account manager 


Lurpak - Be wonderful and wise  


“Lurpak adverts always catch my attention. For such a simple product, home cooking is brought to life with Lurpak’s signature style - vivid colours, short and sharp frames and crisp sound effects. I really like the ‘Be wonderful and wise’ TV ad – it encourages anyone to get creative in the kitchen and you simply can’t look away!”   

Rosie Carr – content strategist  

It’s safe to say that KFC’s bold, brave and cheeky ads were a big hit at WM HQ. Kudos to its ad team, as well as Carlsberg and Lurpak. Big, bold and brave really does pay off.  

Rosie Carr