By The Drum Team, Editorial

June 14, 2022 | 3 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.

As Guinness has repeatedly reminded us over the years, patience is a virtue. Thanks to the memorability of its advertising, seasoned drinkers can recite off by heart that it takes 119.5 seconds to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. Believe it or not, however, this wasn’t always something the brand was so happy to dwell upon.

In 1997, the team at Guinness made the difficult decision to move on from Ogilvy’s offbeat ‘Not Everything in Black and White Makes Sense’ ads and hold a pitch for a new agency. The brief went out to interested parties with one very important decree: “The Guinness extended pour time shouldn’t be mentioned, as the dwell may well be a potential barrier to a younger demographic.”

Emboldened by his boss at AMV, the legendary creative director David Abbott, art director Walter Campbell ignored this part of the brief. Despite being a teetotaler, he had watched enough friends stare longingly at their settling Guinnesses to know that the stout’s inherent product truth was a blessing and not a curse. Rather than shy away from it, it was time to put that truth into the ads.

What emerged next was the birth of the line ‘Good things come to those who wait’ and an idea for an ad so strong that marketing director Andy Fennell would go on to claim it was the “only time in my entire career when I’ve commissioned a script as it was presented”. The story of the aging local sports hero’s annual swimming race from an offshore buoy to his brother’s bar on the shore against the ’clock’ of pint of a Guinness being ’correctly’ poured at the bar was the perfect encapsulation of the brand truth Fennell and his team came round to celebrating.

’Swim Black’ is not the most famous nor the most acclaimed of the ’Good Things Come to Those Who Wait’ ads (we don’t need to tell you which one is), but without it we would never have seen some of the best advertising of the 1990s and 2000s – including ’Surfer’, now officially crowned as the second best ad of all time. And lest we forget, it’s a brilliant ad in its own right that boosted sales and set Guinness on its path of transforming the image of the brand among a new generation.

The best ad ever? Not quite. But one of the most influential? No doubt.

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