World’s best ads ever #32: PlayStation reveals the hidden double lives of gamers
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.
In the 1990s, console advertising was dominated by sugar-rush footage of colorful characters bouncing around their virtual universes. Then, at the end of the decade, ’Double Life’ came along. And while it had plenty of colorful characters of its own, you might say, it otherwise shared nothing in common with gaming ads as we had ever seen them before.
For one thing, there are no games shown here. Instead, this moody and unsettling 60-second spot takes the form of a sprawling monologue, set to the strains of Faure’s Requiem, in which 19 eccentric characters take turns to share the secrets of their ‘double lives’.
It begins with our first protagonist, or perhaps antagonist – a young man in his office suit fixing his gaze directly down the lens as he makes his way through the high street. “For years, I’ve lived a double life, he begins. “In the day, I do my job – I ride the bus, roll up my sleeves with the hoi-polloi.” Then, we cut to the same man undressed on a bed with a woman. “But at night, I live a life of exhilaration.”
Created by the then TBWA\London team of copywriter James Sinclair, art director Ed Morris and creative director Trevor Beattie, and directed by the late, great Frank Budgen, ’Double Life’ was released to widespread critical acclaim and became the most awarded ad campaign of 1999/2000. It marked a paradigm shift in the way gaming advertises itself and its influence is obvious in much of the great gaming advertising that has followed, including Xbox’s similarly acclaimed ’Life is Short’ spot.
What’s so impressive about watching ’Double Life’ today is just how ahead of its time it was – from the boundary pushing narrative to the genuine diversity of the casting. In 1999, we’d seen very little like it on our screens before. And to this day, we see very little like it on our screens now.