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Advertising Marks & Spencer Warburtons

Peter Kay's history as a no-nonsense ad man: John Smith's, M&S and Warburtons


By John McCarthy | Opinion editor

October 5, 2017 | 4 min read

Stand-up comedian Peter Kay, the undisputed champion of Bolton, has tried his hand in advertising again as the star of Warburtons' new campaign in which he plays the founder of the bakery.

Peter Kay ads

Peter Kay ads

The work from WCRS and Another Film Company shows how the charismatic comedian can catalyse an ad campaign, having been the face of John Smith's for a substantial period and a keen component in an M&S Christmas showcase.

Enjoy Pride and Breadjudice for Warburtons before delving into some of the comedian's other classic ads. It is clear he has been handled a fair degree of creative freedom in this work to call backs to his comedy, catchphrases and even other ad campaigns.

Marks & Spencer, You Should Be Dancing, 2010, RKCR/Y&R

Kay gets his dancing shoes on for this Marks & Spencer's flagship Christmas ad, alongside Twiggy, Dannii Minogue, Lisa Snowdon, VV Brown, Ana Beatriz Barros, Jamie Redknapp is also there on the periphery.

Kay lends his robust dancing, character work and facial expressions to the ad, arguably stealing the show.

At the midpoint, Kay is clearly edited onto a superior dancer of a different physical disposition, a technique that is replicated in the Warburtons work to grant him a chiseled pair of abs.

It ends on the rather clever end line ‘Don’t Put a Foot Wrong this Christmas’.

John Smith's, multiple campaigns, 2002-2005, 2010 TBWA London

Kay embodied 'no nonsense' mantra of John Smith's across multiple ads spanning almost a decade with a notable five year gap. Fan demand saw his return after the original work resonated with viewers who are still bellowing ‘Ave it’ to this day.

There's the temptation to include all of the work in this piece, but here is a link out to my three favourives (Dive, Dog Show, Doorstep Challenge) and below is a YouTube playlist of all his ads for the brand.

It is worth noting that the dive ad was banned by the ASA for portraying a man diving into a pool while drinking. Dangerous activity that should in no circumstances be replicated apparently.

Sports Relief, Wheelchair Dance, Brian Potter

Kay utilised a character from his comedy show Phoenix Nights, in this skit for BBC Sports Relief. As Brian Potter, Kay riffs on an iconic BBC ident.

All for the benefit of charity of course.

Here's the original ident.

Woolworths, 2004

The now defunct retail brand Woolworths ran a thirty second ad selling Peter Kay’s standup on DVD.

Buy one get one half price no less… looking back, one could liken this strategy of punting widely available content on national TV as a contributor to the shop's eventual demise.

And, as a bit of an aside, Kay has previousloy branded himself as a “victim of advertising” humourously retelling how 70s ads mislead him as a kid.

Toy adverts were, perhaps unsurprisingly, the prime offenders.

Advertising Marks & Spencer Warburtons

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