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By Sam Anderson | Editor, The Drum Network

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.

Back in 2002, Levi’s asked agency BBH to help them overcome the ‘Jeremy Clarkson effect’ – the association between portly middle-aged men and Levi’s jeans sending younger customers running.

Created by British animation studio Framestore (you’ll see more of its work elsewhere on this list), ‘Odyssey’ turns the Clarkson effect on its head, mythologizing the new range of Levi’s Engineered Jeans as the sort of things that just might let you burst through walls, float through the air and run up trees.

It was helmed by one of adland’s most fabled directors, Jonathan Glazer – who has not only directed legendary commercials such as ‘Swimblack’ and ‘Surfer’ for Guinness and ‘Devil’s Island’ for Stella Artois, but also feature films including 2013’s Under the Skin, which some rate as the best British movie of the century.

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Reportedly costing £2.5m (about $3m) and taking six months to make, the production is a testament to what true filmmaking craft can achieve in an ad, redefining for some what a commercial can look like. It’s a combination of real, practical effects and then-cutting-edge computer imagery. Glazer had the two actors run at full tilt through 16 imaginary walls, triggering very real smoke and particle effects for realistic performances.

It was such an exacting, grueling shoot that Framestore’s creative director Murray Butler has said that he “almost couldn’t finish the commercial”.

With no dialogue at all, the 60-second spot plays out to the propulsive strings of Handel’s Sarabande – Glazer’s pedigree as a music video director for the likes of Radiohead and Nick Cave is clear. It closes on a single strapline: ‘freedom to move’ (don’t worry, long before Brexit).

Building on the success of the previous year’s ad ‘Twist’, BBH’s creative director told the Guardian at the time that the repositioning campaign had done the trick: a 200% uptick in sales with particular traction among the targeted 15 to 25-year-olds and “the quickest line to one million units in the company’s history”. And if parody is the highest form of praise, then there’s plenty of evidence of ‘Odyssey’s’ legendary status.

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