World’s best ads ever #88: Lego lays the foundations for 40-year legacy with ‘Kipper’
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.
Lego wasn’t always the biggest toy brand in the world. It’s had its ups and downs. But it found solid ground by learning how to channel the power of creation and imagination in 1981 with ‘Kipper’.
The Danish toy giant’s agency TBWA brainstormed what would be the group’s first-ever stop-motion film, and one of the earliest ‘brickfilms’ that would become a dependable content stream from Lego.
The 45-second animated ad featured Roger Kitter impersonating famous comedian Tommy Cooper. At the time many people mistakenly thought the comic icon, rather than the soundalike, had lent his voice to Lego – a job well done?
The ad plays out numerous escalating odd situations all built with Lego. Cat v dog, with a few more complications, evolves into submarine v ad namesake kipper. Chaos ensues and bricks shift and rebuild over and over again at a breakneck pace. Viewers some 40 years later may be mistaken for thinking they’ve seen an early build of the Lego Movie, proving that good ideas are timeless. ‘Kipper’ was so popular it ran for several years and inspired wonder in young and old viewers alike.
Director Ken Turner, acclaimed for his work on TV shows Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlett, brought the ad to life. Creatives Mike Cozens and Graham Watson came up with the idea, with Watson earning his first D&AD Gold and Silver as a result of the TV commercial.
The ad was produced by Clearwater Films, best known for producing the first two series of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends from 1984 to 1986.
And finally, to celebrate Lego’s 50th anniversary in 2008, it re-released ‘Kipper’ in 2008 across UK cinemas. The ad sparked a legacy of top advertising that Lego is still living up to. In 2000 it placed 74th on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest TV Ads and stands the test of time to this day.