The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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By Hannah Bowler, Senior reporter

June 14, 2022 | 2 min read

We asked our readers to vote for their favorite commercials of all time. Top creatives from the World Creative Rankings and The Drum’s Judges’ Club then ranked the ads. Now, we bring you the definitive 100 best TV and video ads of all time.

Pre-1974, grocery marketing took a ‘does what it says on the tin’ approach. That all changed when Smash Martians beamed down and shook up the sector.

In the early 1970s, sales of Smash were stagnant so the grocery brand briefed Boase Massimi Pollitt – now DDB UK – to reinvigorate the product. John Webster, then creative chief, took it upon himself to use this brief to end the grocery sector’s tame reputation.

The ad’s origin story begins at the pub, where Webster said to his copywriter: “If anyone came down from another planet and saw that we bothered to peel potatoes, boil them and mash them up when you can get it out of a packet, they’d think we were barmy!“

Thus came the campaign idea – a family of robots should be the central characters and should mock humans for the way they mash potatoes. The robot Martians, made entirely from car parts, became so iconic now they are now displayed at The National Media Museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

Cadbury ran Smash Martians ads from the 1970s into the early 1980s, but their notoriety lasted far beyond. In 2016, The Drum revisited the ads as part of its Reimagining Advertising campaign, tasking 10 marketers to postulate how the ads could be reinvented for a modern age. One marketer, Gav Thompson at Paddy Power, said he would give the Martians individual personalities, while Caspar Schlickum at Xaxis suggested using real-time data to build scenarios for the Martians to mock.

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