Festival of British Advertising

Ad Fest 100: 9-12 March 2017 Supported by Google and Channel 4

The Festival of British Advertising celebrated the very best of British creativity from the past 100 years. From the PG Chimps to the Smash Martians and the Cadbury’s drumming gorilla; from Lord Kitchener’s ‘Your Country Needs You’ to John Lewis’ Buster the boxer; these are the bright ideas and arresting images that captivated the British public and helped map out our cultural history. These were the ads around which a multi-million pound industry was built, helping make the UK the creative capital of the world.

The UK’s institute for the advertising profession – the IPA – celebrated its centenary with a four-day festival charting the very best of British advertising’s achievements through an exhibition open to the public. Taking place at the Boilerhouse, Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL from 9-12 March 2017, this unique and exciting exhibition delved into the past, present and future of advertising; from the earliest print ads to the latest virtual reality technology.

A series of ticketed events ran alongside the exhibition, celebrating different aspects of the industry and the individuals who helped build it. These included an exclusive screening and Q&A with Oscar-winning director Sir Alan Parker; Pop Goes The Ad Break – a romp through the relationship between pop music and commercials, featuring an all-star panel of adland’s finest, top comedians and music legends. Plus Adam And The Ads: a tour through the funniest ads of all time, courtesy of much loved comic and broadcaster, Adam Buxton.

The four-day festival included:


    The exhibition took visitors on a journey through the evolution of an industry which currently brings over £20.1bn to the UK economy. It examined the ways in which advertising has both reflected and influenced social, political and economic changes over the past 100 years. Visitors could watch some of their favourite ads, play with the most iconic characters and step inside adland itself, learning everything about how ads are really made.

    The exhibition was organised around four core themes and is complemented with two immersive areas which look to the future.

    Imagine A World Without Advertising

    Step into a plain, colourless supermarket aisle where the shelves are filled with unbranded products. What would the world be like without advertising? How would we know what we want? What to buy? Where to shop? How would we choose and where would we go for help and advice? There’s only way to find out… visitors will be encouraged to explore 100 Years Of British Advertising.

    The Ads That Shaped Our Lives

    From the jingles you couldn’t get out of your head, to the characters you’ll never forget ‘The Ads That Shaped Our Lives’ will explore the adverts that became part of the family, jumping out of the television set into our lives. Kicking off in the 60's and 70's with the Smash Martians and the Honey Monster and working our way through the decades to *that* iconic Flat Eric Levi’s ad. Visitors will be encouraged to explore how advertising has impacted on and shaped public life; from improving road safety with the Green Cross Code, to encouraging us to support good causes or to cast our vote and to check out some of the weirdest and most wonderful ads of all time.

    Highs, Lows and Keeping It Legal

    It hasn’t always been easy… Stepping into the third section of the exhibition visitors will be invited to find out more about how the advertising industry has been castigated, regulated and controlled over the years. Looking at the most controversial ads of all time, from Lynx’s ‘It Takes 40 Dumb Animals’, to Barnardo’s 2008 appeal ‘Break The Cycle’, as well as examining the changing way in which people have been represented including women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, older people and men. The 100 years since 1917 have seen dramatic changes in society and this area will pose some questions about the impact of these changes on how we see ourselves and others.

    Inside Adland

    Getting behind the scenes of Britain’s advertising industry this last zone of the exhibition will give visitors access to the process of making adverts. We meet ‘the insiders,’ the movers and shakers who created the ad land we know today. Visitors will be able to take a quiz to find out ‘How Don Draper Are You?’ and then to find themselves in a real life ad agency learning about all the different skills and people that go into making your favourite adverts and bringing us up to date with a chance to try out some of the latest and most exciting virtual reality technology.

    Inside Channel 4

    Jump inside the world of TV and immerse yourself into one of the nations favourite programmes with this interactive exhibit from innovative UK broadcaster, Channel 4.

    CLICK, presented by Google

    The advent of ‘digital’ occupies just a fraction of the last 100 years of advertising, yet its effect over such a short period has been profound. Google’s ‘Click’ exhibit celebrates brands who have pushed the limits of creativity thanks to new technology and key advancements across platforms and screens.

    List of Adland's Gamechangers

    As part of the run up to the British Festival of Advertising (2017), the IPA unveiled a list of people who stand out as having had a major influence on the last century.

    Find out who the gamechangers are


    Wednesday, 8 March 

    Opening Night Gala

    Watch the opening gala speeches with Tom Knox, Ronan Harris, David Abraham and Lord Puttnam.

    Thursday, 9 March 

    Wonder Women: Changing The Portrayal Of Gender On Screen

    Changing the portrayal of gender on screen with host Fiona Bruce (journalist, newsreader and presenter), Vicki Maguire (creative director, Grey London) and Fay Wheldon CBE (author)

    Hot on the heels of 2017’s International Women’s Day – some of the ad industry’s leading female players, including Fay Weldon and Vicki Maguire, debated the evolving role of women on screen and behind the scenes. Chaired by Fiona Bruce they discussed whether gender in campaigns has always reflected the society of the time or whether adverts helped evolve the stereotypical imagery of women and men.

    We asked our panelists to share their experiences of Adland and asked what more advertisers and the industry can do to improve an accurate portrayal of women in adverts.

    Wave Presents Pop Goes the Ad Break

    Panel: Eamonn Holmes (presenter, This Morning), Paul Chowdhry (comedian), Mark Denton (creative Boos, Coy! Communications), Venessa Feltz (broadcaster and journalist), Lewis Macleod (actor), Bobby Mair (comedian) and Bob Mills (comedian).

    Pop Goes The Ad Break took an entertaining look at how the world’s of music and advertising have overlapped over the decades. Created in the format of a comedy panel show, featuring Eamonn Holmes as host and teams included the brilliant voice actor, Lewis MacLeod, comedians Paul Chowdhry, Bobby Mair and Bob Mills, TV personality Vanessa Feltz and Adland guru, Mark Denton.

    From Coke’s ‘I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing’ to Levis’ seminal use of Motown, this entertaining live quiz show celebrated the greatest ever collisions between pop music and ad-land – and revealed some of the untold stories behind the songs.

    Friday, 10 March

    The Future of Storytelling in an Ever-changing Diverse Society

    Host Krishnan Guru-Murthy (Channel 4 news anchor), Hamza Arshad (actor, comedian and writer), Dan Brooke (chief marketing and communications officer, Channel 4), Michele Oliver (VP marketing, Mars) and Nishma Robb (head of ads marketing, Google and chair of Women@Google).  

    Led by Channel 4 News Anchor, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, this esteemed panel discussed the power of inclusive advertising: the creative and commercial case for brands embracing diverse representation in advertising, over the next decade.

    This session covered whether there is truth to the lack of inclusion, considered how new technologies can improve the issue, and looked to the future to reveal the benefits of diverse storytelling. Watch the discussion.

    The Future of Advertising

    Host Krishnan Guru-Murthy (Channel 4 news anchor) discusses the future of advertising with David Abraham (Channel 4), Ronan Harris (Google UK) and Sir Martin Sorrell (WPP). 

    Hearing first-hand from the world’s leading advertising chief, WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell, Channel 4’s CEO David Abraham, and Google UK MD Ronan Harris discussed what the next 100 years of advertising has in store. What affect will AI, VR, and the so-called fourth industrial revolution have on the future of the industry, what role does creativity play in a machine-driven future; and as we approach the triggering of Article 50, what will the advertising business look like post-Brexit?

    Watch the panel discuss the future of advertising.

    Adam & The Ads 

    'Adam & the Ads' Comedy Night, Featuring Barry and Angelos (comedians) and Adam Buxton (comedian).

    For one night only, some of the nation’s favourite comic talents turned their attentions to the funny business of the ad break. Award winning comic and broadcaster Adam Buxton walks and talks us through some of the funniest, weirdest and most talked about ads of all time in a bespoke show made especially for the Festival. And fresh from their sell-out national tour, Barry From Watford and Angelos Epithemiou (aka Alex Lowe and Dan Skinner) slumped in front of their telly and dissect some of their favourite ads.

    Sunday, 12 March

    Mad Men and Bad Men: When British Advertising Met Politics

    Host Sam Delaney (author, broadcaster and journalist) discusses 'When British advertising met politics' with Bill Muirhead (executive director, M&C Saatchi), Jeremy Sinclair CBE (chairman, M&C Saatchi), Lord Tebbit (politician) and Shaun Woodward (politician). 

    The story of how ad men re-invented political communications for the world. From the startling political posters of the 1930’s; Harold Wilson’s so-called three wise men, recruited from ad-land to sell Labour politics to the British middle classes; to the Saatchis seminal branding of Thatcherism; to Trevor Beattie’s era-defining work for New Labour.

    Sam Delaney, author of the best-selling Mad Men And Bad Men, was joined by Bill Muirhead, Jeremy Sinclair CBE, Lord Norman Tebbit and Sean Woodward. Watch the panel discuss what happened when Westminster fell in love with ad-land.

    Sir Alan Parker Live  - From Adland to Hollywood: Sir Ridley Scott on Advertising: An exclusive film and screening

    Sam Delaney interviews Sir Alan Parker about going 'From Adland to Hollywood'.

    In a live Q&A film director Sir Alan Parker explained the link between his ad-making background and his iconic cinematic hit, Bugsy Malone, revealing how his career in ad land prepared him for Hollywood.

    Watch the exclusive chat, discussing, showing and celebrating Parker’s most iconic ads. There was a screening of the film itself.

    Happy 100th Birthday 

    The team, led by Mill+ Director Ivo Sousa and Mill+ Creative Director Carl Addy, worked to bring the IPA Festival Film to life from the initial creative concept, to the final execution incorporating design, art direction and animation work.

    Watch the 60 second sequence celebrating the best adverts of all time but with a comical twist.

    Using flash techniques and a combination of key creative softwares such as C4D, After Effects, Illustrator and Nuke, the team at Buy Prepecia Online added colourful animations and vibrant imagery to reinvigorate an array of classic ads.

    Watch the best adverts


    Production Company: Mill+
    Director: Ivo Sousa
    Creative Director: Carl Addy

    Executive Producers

    Jay Pond Jones, Sam Delaney, Dom Delaney at Studio Sixty Billion

    VFX and Design

    VFX and Design: The Mill
    Executive Producer: Alex Finch
    Producer: Claire Braithwaite
    2D Artists: Kwok Fung Lam, Tom Wansbrough-Jones, Freya Barnsley, Ambrogio Bergamaschi, Diogo Pinheiro, Eleanor Risdon, Federico Ghetta
    3D Artists: Ollie Johnson, James Lee, Stephanie Dewhurst, Rajinder Davsi, Sean Hedman
    Matte Painting: Cameron Johnson & Joakim Flaten
    Design: Charles Bigeast


    Color: The Mill
    Colourist: Oisin O’Driscoll


    Music Supervisor – Raife Burchell at Dirty Soup
    Music Composition – Lorne Balfe

    Audio Production – Wave Studios
    Senior Sound Designer – Tony Rapaccioli

    What's your favourite ad?

    Kingston University’s Scarlett Chetwin, Oliver Servini and Sheona Turnbull have been announced as winners of a prestigious competition to publicise the Festival of British Advertising. Their standout campaign celebrates the best of British advertising and features the Cadbury’s gorilla, the Smash Martians and the Guinness surfers, among other iconic characters.

    If you share your favourite ad to help us celebrate 100 years of British advertising, not only will you be helping to ‘advertise advertising’ but you will also be in the running for a bottle of bubbly #AdFest100

    The ad has been brought to life by director, Theo Delaney at Watchable, edited at Cut & Run with sound design by Wave, casting by Camilla Arthur and post-production by Smoke & Mirrors.

    Watch your favourite video

    Festival highlights

    Watch highlights of the weeks events


    Friends of the festival include:

    18 Feet & Rising, 23red, Above+Beyond, adam&eveDDB, Advertising Association, Advertising Week Europe, Alpha Century, AMV BBDO, Anomaly, BBH. BJL, CHI & Partners, Clear Channel, Clearcast, Dentsu Aegis Network, FCB Inferno, Feref, Fold7, Gravity Road, Grey London, GroupM, gyro London, Havas, Here and Now 365, History of Advertising Trust, iris Worldwide, Isobel, J. Walter Thompson, Karmarama, Leo Burnett, Lucky Generals, M&C Saatchi, Manning Gottlieb OMD, Maxus, MBA, McCann, MediaCom, Mediatel, MPC, MullenLowe London, Ogilvy, Outdoor Plus, Publicis, Publicis.Sapient, Red Brick Road, Saatchi & Saatchi, Smoke & Mirrors, St Luke's, The Mill, Total Media, UKOM, VCCP, Watchable, Wave Studios, WCRS, Wieden+Kennedy, WPP. 

    The event supported by Google and Channel 4

    Last updated 01 May 2024