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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.

A parody of overblown advertising that ironically came in over budget, ‘It’s a big ad’ can only be described as a piss-take – and believe us when we say we use that term endearingly.

From the just-released Lord of the Rings film to Saatchi & Saatchi’s classic 1989 British Airways ‘Face’ commercial (which some might find to be a surprise omission from our top 100), this 2005 ad’s targets are none too subtle. But there’s no malice here, just beer barrel loads of dry Aussie wit.

The ad was conceived by creative duo Ant Keogh and Grant Rutherford of the George Patterson & Partners agency in Melbourne, who’d introduced the ingenious tagline ‘Made from Beer’ in their two previous ads for the brand. These funny but modest spots were, however, small beer compared to what was to come in ‘Big Ad‘.

As Rutherford told Australian site The Brag this February on the 15th anniversary of the ad’s release, it formed in the creative duo’s minds while they were mucking about on the way home from the office. “We caught the train home from work together and somewhere around Elsternwick we hit upon the thought. And on the train we just got that line ‘It’s a Big Ad’ and actually sung it to the tune of O Fortuna there and then, the song just popping in to our heads because I guess it’s just the biggest, most epic, music that came to mind. (Grant and I are both musicians.) Then, that night, I just wrote the rest of the lyrics.”

The lyrics – as meta as they come – are belted out with gusto by two huge choirs who charge towards each other as O Fortuna approaches its crescendo. “It’s a big ad. Very big ad. It’s a big ad we’re in. It’s a big ad. My God it’s big! Can’t believe how big it is! It’s a big ad! For Carlton Draught! It’s just so freaking HUGE! It’s a big ad! Expensive ad! This ad better sell some bloo-oo-oo-oody beer!” At this point, the choirs collide in full anatomical glory, appearing when viewed from above as a human figure sipping a Carlton Draught.

Two weeks before being broadcast on TV, Carlton released the ad online and it immediately took on a life of its own as one of the early examples of viral advertising. By the time its TV air date rolled around, ’It’s a Big Ad’ had already been viewed more than a million times by viewers in 132 countries, and the brewer took the prudent decision to reduce its media spend so as not to risk overexposure. That’s what we call a big ad.

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