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A brief history of Stephen Hawking's time in advertising

Stephen Hawking from ruins to space, to a evil lair

Stephen Hawking has passed away at the age of 76 after a long battle with ALS.

On top of his contributions to physics, the scientific community and society at large, Hawking was a prolific face in popular culture, appearing in a rich tapestry of content ranging from The Simpsons, The Big Bang Theory, Star Trek and Pink Floyd in addition to being the subject of an Oscar-winning biopic.

His family released a statement on Wednesday morning (14 March) confirming his death, noting that "his courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world".

As a key personality in the science world and beyond, Hawking also fronted many high profile ad campaigns. His synthesised voice was capable of cutting through any roster of commercials.

Below are some of his finest appearances in ad land.


In 1994 Stephen Hawking touted the power of speech and communications for BT, noting that the species' greatest failures often come from "not talking".

He leveraged BT's technology as a means of delivering a prosperous future and just 24 years later, the telecom firm serves information to customers through the internet in what is no doubt an execution of his vision in the ad.

This voicework is also cited as the reason Hawking was included in Pink Floyd's album that year.


In 1999, Julian Hanford wrote and directed a piece in which Hawking spoke of the power of vision – and, more specifically, eyesight – for Specsavers.

In the creative, Hawking appeared aboard a space craft gazing at the earth and the moon. He said: "I had always hoped to see this in our lifetime. I have been wondering about the mysteries of the universe since I was a child."

The shuttle took Hawking through the entire solar system before ending on the strapline, 'Now You Can Believe Your Eyes'.

He later parodied the ad for Egg.


In the year 2013, GoCompare started to realise that the public loathed its long-last mascot Gio Compario and ran a campaign in which prominent celebs were 'Saving the Nation' by running assassination attempts on the troublesome tenor.

The work from Dare saw Hawking suck Compario into a black hole.

Hawking admitted at the time he was a fan of the ads as well as an opera buff.

"I was delighted to be given the opportunity to help save the nation and silence Gio," he said. "I hope the public find it as funny as I did."


Intel stepped forward as the brains behind Hawking's voice modulator in 2014.

In the creative, Hawking spoke about his 20-year relationship with the brand and how it empowered him to live independently and do the things he loved.

The scientist lost his voice in 1985 and was immediately reliant on spelling cards and eyebrow cues to communicate. He then received an onboard computer with an AMD processor, but since 1997, Intel has supplied him with the tech that helps him communicate.

The work ran with the catchy title 'Keep Hawking Talking'. It was just one of many collaborations between the scientist and the computing brand.

​Jaguar F-PACE

In 2016, the enigmatic scientist fulfilled a life-long goal to become a James Bond villain.

He starred in Jaguar's cinematic creative alongside British baddies Tom Hiddleston, Mark Strong and Sir Ben Kingsley. The spot was directed by Tom Hooper of The King's Speech fame.

Hawking posted on Facebook: "You all know me as Professor Stephen Hawking, the physicist wrestling with the great concepts of time and space. But there is another side to me that you may not know: Stephen Hawking the actor.

"I have always wanted to be in a movie playing the part of a typical British villain. And now, thanks to Jaguar my wish has come true."

Comic Relief

Hawking also starred in a Comic Relief skit in 2017 in which prominent celebrities all audition to be the next voice of Hawking.

Featured was Liam Neeson, Rebel Wilson and Eddie Redmayne.

He noted that the high caliber voice chords of these celebrities could "give my lectures a bit more oomph".

Julian Hanford who worked on the Specsavers creative with Hawking reflected on his time worked with the scientist to The Drum. He said: "Twenty years ago I flew him around the Solar System for a commercial. We built a huge Kubrickian set for the inside of the spacecraft, complete with real aircraft seats and all. His nurse at the time requested visiting the set the morning before the shoot to check if everything would be OK for him. She took one look at the set with the rows of seats and said "Stephen can't possibly sit in those!"

"So our poor production designer had to work out a way of incorporating his huge wheelchair into the set, with very little time. Whilst in the midst of this, Stephen arrived and asked to come on set. He drove over to the seats, took a look at them and said in that all-familiar voice, 'nice seats - I think I'll sit in one of those'."

He concluded that the ad was the brand's most successful ever at the time, topping brand retention charts for six weeks.

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