My Favourite Five Ads: James Pais

To celebrate the IPA's centenary this year, we are asking adland's finest to pick their top five ads from the past century. This week, IPA Scotland Chairman James Pais takes us through his favourites, which feature a snowman, skinheads... and Elvis Costello.

R Whites, Secret Lemonade Drinker

As a kid in the 70’s, I drank a lot of lemonade, I loved the stuff. This ad kind of provided a soundtrack to my primary school days and brings back some very happy memories. It was 1973 and it was pre-punk, but this ad has Ross McManus singing the song, and his son, Declan, doing backing vocals. Declan would later become Elvis Costello. Weirdly, Elvis makes no mention of this milestone on his website, but I did find out on his website that we were both born in St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington - you live and learn.

Boddingtons, Cream Of Manchester


This whole campaign was so beautifully crafted and so well-executed. I loved every single one of these press ads. They were clear, striking and simple. The TV campaign is way up in the top 100 greatest commercials of all time, but it’s the press work that does it for me. It also is a testament to the awesome work that was coming out of BBH in the 90s.

The Guardian, Points of View 

As an Anglo-Indian kid growing up in London in the 70s and 80s, I had a wariness of skinheads. This commercial tapped into those generalised prejudices as you immediately assume that the worst is going to happen. The beauty of this ad is it turns that prejudice on its head. I remember this a being a very powerful ad - the public service style voiceover and the gritty reportage footage really added to the drama. It’s a masterclass in advertising storytelling, from the master that was John Webster.

Audi, A4

This ad is perfect in so many ways; the casting, the filming, the editing and the script. But also the way it summed up how a nation was getting tired of the excesses of yuppiedom and the brashness of wealth. It set Audi and Audi drivers, apart from this, and indirectly has a nice old dig at BMW drivers. ‘Tell Charles ‘am on my way. Taxi!’ is one of my favourite endings to an ad.

Irn Bru, Snowman

I moved up to Scotland nearly three years ago and didn’t realise the enormous impact Irn-Bru has on the nation. Irn-Bru outsells Coca-Cola and it’s synonymous with Scottish culture. As a southerner, I was also unaware of Irn-Bru’s amazing ads both in print and broadcast. This particular ad has become an institution here, but what I love about it is the pure Scottish humour, the attention to detail and the wonderful craftsmanship in all aspects of its production. So please sing along…

"We're walking in the air. I'm sipping on an Irn-Bru. My chilly snowman mate says he would like some too. I tell him get your own. He looks like he is going to cry. I tell him once again the Irn-Bru is mine. Now I'm falling through the air. I wonder where I'm going to land. He nicked my Irn-bru and let go of my hand."

The IPA are celebrating their centenary this year - join in the conversation on Twitter using #AdFest100 and #IPA100. You can catch up on all the photos, videos and other content from the IPA's Festival of British advertising here, including Sir Martin Sorrell, Sir Alan Parker and a virtual tour of the Exhibition.