The Drum Awards for Marketing - Extended Entry Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Modern Marketing Creative Works The World's Best Ads of All Time

The Drum ranked the 100 best TV ads – now we right some ‘wrongs’


By John McCarthy | Media editor

July 13, 2022 | 10 min read

The Drum recently revealed the top 100 TV and video ads of all time. Our readers nominated their favorites, then the world’s leading creative directors ranked them. When the dust settled, our ad-lovin’ journalists weren’t entirely pleased. We asked them to ‘fix’ our list. What ranked too low and what did we miss from the World’s Best Ads?

World's Best Ads

Are these the World’s Best Ads of All Time?

First of all, if you missed this huge initiative, check out the list here.

Honda’s classic ’Cog’ commercial was crowned the best TV ad of all time after coming on top of The Drum’s World Best Ads poll of readers and leading creative directors. The painstakingly-produced 2003 ad from Wieden+Kennedy just beat AMV BBDO’s beloved Guinness ’Surfer’ and Apple’s ’1984’.

But our team of journalists, like many readers, don’t think the list was quite right.

Here’s what they’d correct.

Epuron’s Mr Wind – John McCarthy, media editor

Epuron’s Mr Wind placed 10th. It was nine spots too low in my opinion. It’s cheeky – Mr Wind is a scourge upon the land. Like an internet troll, he’s a maladjusted life-ruiner who lives off of chaos. He even lifts a skirt. You wouldn’t see that now. He’s like one of those talking heads that moan about cancel culture all the time – except this giant reprobate has a positive outlet for all the ‘wind’ he’s generating.

It’s the perfect PuRpOsE MaRkEtiNg ad – conveying a powerful message in a memorable engaging way without being smug. The M. Night Shyamalanian twist hits hard. Genius. Read more here.

Dos Equis’ The Most Interesting Man in the World – Kendra Clark, senior reporter

Dos Equis’ ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’ campaign debuted in 2006 focused on the various exploits of the world’s most interesting man. But, most importantly, IT NEVER MADE OUR LIST.

American actor Jonathan Goldsmith and Frontline voice-over artist Will Lyman brought to life a series of over-the-top spots – many of which featured ‘flashbacks’ cast in vintage black-and-white tape – where viewers got a peek into the endlessly fascinating and adventure-filled life of our daring protagonist; he frees bears from bear traps, gives his own father ‘the talk,’ bench-presses beautiful women, sails the seven seas, discovers the fountain of youth (but decides to abstain, citing a lack of thirst) and much more. Most of the ads close on a scene of the man dressed to the nines, delivering the signature lines: “I don’t always drink beer. But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.” He ends with the tagline: “Stay thirsty, my friends.”

Perhaps it would top a World’s Best Ad Campaigns instead...

Southern Comfort’s Whatever’s Comfortable – Sam Bradley, senior reporter

Most whisky, or whiskey, ads tend to primarily feature celebrities (Lagavulin and Wild Turkey), the sea (Talisker) or themes of existential triumph (Macallan). All fair enough, if that’s your dram. But living in Scotland, there’s only so much tartan, peat and bad poetry you can put up with – and it’s worth remembering that the water of life exists to help us enjoy life itself, rather than just to lubricate Big Talks About Life.

Southern Comfort’s ‘Whatever’s Comfortable,’ created by Wieden+Kennedy, stands apart in this subcategory. High summer in California. A head-nodding tune. Great swimwear. Its swaggering, sweating hero might be one of the most aspirational figures ever shown in an ad – he’s carefree, he’s confident, he’s half-cut. And he makes whisky look like fun again. It finished 57th on our list, but I’d have it closer to the top spot. Read more here.

This is your brain on drugs PSA – Ken Hein, US editor

Following the freewheeling seventies was the anti-drug 80s. If there was something every kid in America knew, it was that drugs were bad. The war on drugs (not to be confused with the band) was very real thanks to Ronald and Nancy Reagan. The catchphrase ‘Just say no’ was more pervasive than ‘Just Do It.’ (Nike launched that in 1987. Coincidence?)

That sizzling fried egg is the simplest of metaphors that no one could possibly forget. It was created by the agency Keye/Donna/Pearlstein and directed by the one and only Joe Pytka. The American Egg Board had to issue its own PSA to clarify that drugs were bad, not eggs (although even this is now up for some debate.)

It spawned parodies from everyone, from Saturday Night Live to SpongeBob and Scary Movie 2. It was referenced in Breaking Bad and Deadpool, as well as by the band Gorillaz. All told, The Drum staff must have been on drugs for not including this anywhere on the top 100 list, let alone the top 10. Reefer madness!

Bodyform’s Womb Stories – Ellen Ormesher, reporter

For those of us that grew up in the era of blue goo representing period blood in ads, and women undeterred by cramps playing tennis to sell us tampons, Bodyform’s ‘Womb Stories’ was not only a breath of fresh air, but something of a cultural reset.

Finally depicting the realities of menstruation – alongside a slew of other women’s health issues such as endometriosis, menopausal hot flushes and the challenges of IVF treatment – the ad marked a distinct gear change in the depiction of periods, not just in ads, but across the media. It should have placed better than 29th.

Also Bodyform’s Womb Stories – Dani Gibson, senior writer

At the risk of sounding like my granny, back in my day you had the basic health education: “This is a penis, keep it wrapped, and you’re going to need these (tampons) once a month.” And for most, it was enough. But if you spoke about your ‘girl’ pains to anyone other than your mum, doctor or bestie, you’d be gawked at like a pariah.

Two decades on, this ad set a precedent for talking openly about our reproductive organs and what life throws at us – in such a bloody visual way.

Nike’s Secret Tournament – Sam Anderson, The Drum Network editor

I don’t care about football, and Secret Tournament almost exclusively features football. But, as a child, I was truly obsessed with these ads. When a show started on TV, I’d skip channel to try to catch one of the ads. I made notes about them, hunted for message boards and looked for hidden meanings.

I still don’t know why it grabbed me, except that mystery isn’t something you often see in ads. Few advertisers have the gumption to leave anything unexplained, but genius Terry Gilliam, of Brazil fame, knew how to make nine-year-old me care about football.

It ranked 50th. But the ad that got me into football must do better.

Cadbury’s Drumming Gorilla – Amy Houston, reporter

Cadbury’s Drumming gorilla. It gets stuck in your head. It’s so silly. I love the backstory too – Cadbury very nearly passed on the concept that is now so widely associated with the brand. It pays to take risks. It’s the best ad ever – not the 14th best ever.

York Peppermint Pattie’s Get the Sensation – Audrey Kemp, junior reporter

York Peppermint Pattie’s ‘Get the Sensation’ didn’t make the cut. The tagline debuted in 1979, when Peter Paul produced the chocolate-coated mint confection.

The first spot showcased a jovial man donning business attire riding a crowded subway. “When I eat a York Peppermint Pattie, I get the sensation of being at the top of a cold, wintery mountain – alone!” he exclaims. The adult animated sitcom Family Guy would later introduce younger generations to the ad.

It is iconic and memorable, and built a brand legacy that would last decades.

Barclaycard’s Waterslide – Amy Beveridge, sub editor

Nowadays contactless card payments are established. Back in the heady days of 2008, the idea of paying via contactless was alien. Barclaycard had a challenge on its hands selling this new and scary idea to its customers.

Bring in the waterslide. This ad takes the concept of contactless and makes it look fun and effortless. Add in the optimistic soundtrack of Let Your Love Flow by The Bellamy Brothers and you’ve got the ingredients of a classic. I mean, who wouldn’t want to replace the commute with a massive waterslide? It came 76th – how did it slide so far down?

Check the Top 100 Ads of All Time here. And it’s not too late to correct us – vote here for your favorites.

Modern Marketing Creative Works The World's Best Ads of All Time

More from Modern Marketing

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +