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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 December 2007, 12:04 GMT
Ad Breakdown's pick of 2007
Gorilla advert

Ad Breakdown
The Magazine's review of advertising

With TV broadcasters in meltdown over hoaxes and fakery scandals, many advertisers have continued to flirt with the viewer over what is real and what is not. And yes, drumming gorilla, that includes you.

Ad Breakdown traditionally charts some of the highlights and lowlights at the end of the year. Whatever the ongoing debate about standards in TV, it's clear that adverts being what they seem to be still appeal to viewers. And as advertisers try harder than ever to make adverts which people want to watch - and not skip past with their Sky+ or digital video recorder - it's been a rich seam for exploration.

Sony again followed its theme of reality ads (after dropping tons of balls down San Francisco hills and exploding paint over an empty Glasgow tower block) by creating a dream-like animation of hundreds of multi-coloured rabbits jumping all over New York.

It's a massively impressive sight, timed perfectly to the Rolling Stones' She's A Rainbow, and from the opening seconds the viewer is asking him or herself how real it is. Did they really go to all that trouble of making an intricate stop-motion animation in the middle of Manhattan? The fleeting images of reactions from passers-by indicate to the viewer that, yes, this was for real and for most viewers that will be evidence enough.

Cadbury Gorilla advert
Face of 2007
A supporting website and behind-the-scenes movie (now customary for epic adverts like this) give some facts and figures - that the rabbits were made of foam and wire, that 40 animators rehearsed for a week to make the filming go smoothly, and that because the models were switched from one position to another, there were "never any wasted rabbits". So, animal-friendly too.

Pure ecstasy

Some traits of the advert - the colours, the crafting, the have-a-go foolhardiness of the task - were also seen in the Skoda Fabia built from cake, icing and jelly. Another well-chosen soundtrack - Julie Andrews' My Favourite Things - makes it even more compelling. As Ad Breakdown reader Clare Baker of Devizes noted: "It becomes more amazing every time I watch it as you pick up on new details you missed the first time."

Orange ad
"Every time this advert appears on our television the whole family seems to stop what they are doing," Samantha from Exeter added. "My children always say 'mummy please can we have one of those', of course meaning the cake car. My husband has a look upon his face of pure ecstasy, cravings to sink his sweet tooth into the car. I myself often think about taking a bite of the jelly brake-lights."

It was the cake's reality which made the advert so appealing - but being real the cake went off under the heat of the studio lights and had to be dumped before it could be distributed to the needy.

Rob Mortimer, who writes an advertising blog, Ad-Pit, says the desire to make adverts look too big can detract from what is trying to be achieved. The Guinness advert - which like Sony has a heritage to keep up - showed lots of dominoes stacked up and ready to topple. Gradually larger items are felled - cars, mattresses, flaming hay bales - culminating in books opening to make a massive pint of Guinness.

Skoda Fabia cake
One favourite thing
It was, says Mortimer, almost too grand. "It's too big," he says. "It's a visual spectacle, but it doesn't quite have the charm that we expect from Guinness adverts."

Though beguiling, the advert is really no more than a reworking of that modern classic, Honda's Cogs in which a sequence of car parts set each other off. Orange seemed to try a similar effect with its Continuous Colours advert in which a girl lifting a flag starts a woman drawing a line with similar coloured crayons which then sets off streamers.

Three of these four adverts mentioned so far were made by the same company, which must have been the cause for a good Christmas party in that office.

And the same firm was responsible for the advert which sits astride the year like a sweaty drummer on a tiny stool - Cadbury's Gorilla. It is destined to be the one image from 2007 that advertising histories will not be able to ignore.

So dominant was it that tabloids and broadsheets alike wrote about it - even cited when Cadbury financial results were announced. Children In Need's Pudsey attempted a half-hearted tribute. Phil Collins found himself back in the record shops.

And yet even there the theme of reality is not far away. Who can admit that it never, even for a moment, crossed their mind that it might have been a real gorilla? Its movements seem so natural, especially its nostrils flaring. But it was artifice - a man in a gorilla suit, albeit one of the world's most accomplished gorilla impersonator, Garon Michael, whose previous work includes Congo and Planet of the Apes.

Cadbury itself describes the suspense as the gorilla stretches and breathes deeply thus: "We know that the best drum solo in the whole history of rock - ever - is coming. The Gorilla knows it too. The Gorilla hits the drums with passion and vigour. Elegance meets power. He's phenomenal on the drums - feeling every beat."

Some critics will no doubt wonder why Cadbury's should have gone with this advert. What's it got to do with chocolate? Couldn't it equally be for the Bradford and Bingley? But Rob Mortimer says that as well as reminding him of some of advertising's great characters (like George the Hofmeister bear), the gorilla is part of a line back to one of Cadbury's most famous works - the Flake girl in the bath.

"It's about taking the time for yourself, capturing the moment. It's more energetic and more masculine, but in some ways this is the Male Flake."

Is there any higher accolade that can be paid?

And the rest...

Some final thoughts on those ads you would skip past, and those you would rewind to watch again.


  • PCWorld - Battering us into submission by being shown a massive number of times. Makes you wish the giant cursor finger would click Quit.

  • M&S - Persisting with its "this is not just food" campaign - two years after this column noted it was becoming a wearisome and parodied by I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. This is not just boring...

  • WKD - Being mean isn't funny in itself, you know. But judging by the number of spoofs made it's hitting the mark with someone.

  • Apple - for its Mac v PC series starring Mitchell and Webb. Not a patch on the original US versions.


  • M&S - Adding Myleene Klass and now Antonio Banderas to the line-up has given the show's clothing campaigns an air of knowingness and helped it move on from the "make or break" years.

  • Vodafone - on two counts. One for showing watch parts raining out of the sky, to the accompaniment of Little April Showers from Bambi. Two for the 'Time Theft' advert where a man's romantic lunchtime meetings mysteriously disappear and he finds himself back in his bland office.

  • E.on - selling the idea of wind power, a seaside town gets taken over by almighty winds lifting people off the ground - done in a way that it's all a cause for fun.

  • Mail on Sunday - a battlefield clash between men armed with remote controlled cars, and women unleashing baying Chihuahuas. Harmony breaks out as the women read one of the newspaper's supplements and the men read another. Probably Ad Breakdown's favourite advert of the year - and especially welcome since most newspaper advertising is about the latest Bananarama CD giveaway.

Ad Breakdown is compiled by Giles Wilson

Your views and verdicts on the year's adverts are, as is traditional, welcome below.

The M&S fifties style advert for clothes just re-emphasises my judgement that M&S clothes are stuck in the past and aimed at older generations.
Ophelia Vrij-Tottey, Newbury

Opinion is a great thing - the Vodafone watch parts and the E.on advert were two of my biggest skipverts of the year!
Bill Turner, Bristol

You say the M&S "not just food" ads are wearisome, but they work... I bought the roast potatoes, parsnips and sprouts this year, and they were fantastic, worth every penny. And this from a cynic who grinds his teeth every time he hears the pseudoscience of the beauty product ads - what on earth is hydroxyurolone (sp.?) anyway?
Phil, Manchester, England

It's got to the point that when that "Bring on the girls" Boots ad comes on, I switch channels. Once during a break is enough, but two? Oh please no more.
Dennis Eylott, Penarth, S. Wales

That Cadbury's advert is completely moronic. The fact that it is so popular is a worrying indication of low the average level of intelligence in this country is.
Nick, London

Am I on another planet? The only ads mentioned which I can recall ever seeing are the coloured balls dropping and the gloved hand of PC World! The others mentioned ring no bells with me at all !
David, Cumbria

For something that is just a few seconds of your life, you quickly learn which adverts you love or hate! Cadbury's gorilla fantastic - good use of 'their' purple, so you know it's them without realising. As for the beauty ads with their 'pentapeptides', I wish they'd tell us which one's! The possible combination is 3.2 million, which will take me awhile to reproduce in the lab.....
KDoyle, Cambridge

I thought the Smirnoff ad with all the objects being shot out the sea was the best advert this year. I saw it first in a cinema and it blew me away
Hamish, Glasgow

I love the Gorilla advert, although uve spoilt my xmas as i thought that was real
Chris, Nottingham

My thanks go to the Spice Girls and particularly Victoria Beckham for being such a good sport. Brightened my Christmas season.
J, Ashford Kent

I can't help thinking the sight of a gorilla playing drums is a very sad image. These are very intelligent, magnificent animals that are endangered in the wild, and the ad seems to depict a captive gorilla performing some kind of circus trick. It also has overtones of the Planet of the Apes movies where apes are enslaved. I am also not surprised the gorilla in questioned looks somewhat melancholic after being compelled to perform a Phil Collins song ad infinitum. What could be more tortuous than that?
Tony, Bristol

I love Cadburys Gorilla advert. But I also love the M&S clothing adverts with Twiggy, despite the comment from Ophelia Vrij-Tottey, Newbury, this advert doesn't show that M&S is stuck in the past. I am 31 and would happily get all my clothes there because they offer proper sizing and clothes that aren't so ridiculously in trend that they are out of fashion within a week.

We're all forgetting one of the funniest adverts ever. Mr T's "Get Some Nuts" advert for Snickers. or is that not kosher, because it involves football?
Ian W, Middlesbrough

Quite frankly whenever I watch the Skoda "cake car" advert all I can think is what a waste of food!
Karen Wilson, Manchester

The best ad by far this year has not even been mentioned. The Iron Bru Snowman ad had me and mine in stitches and we've actually watched it on You Tube! Can't say that about any other ad.
Jacquie, Doncaster

Long live the BBC!
Ian, Highgate

I agree with Phil, the M&S adverts do make the food look so tempting it's hard to resist. My favourite advert which I think deserves a worthy note is the Audi R8 "Slowest car we've made" advert.
Neil, Sunderland, England

The skateboard Nissan ad wouldn't have me rushing out to buy one. Any car that leaves the road that often or turns over that easily is downright dangerous.
Eccles, Bristol UK

Got to say that the dairy-milk advert with the gorilla belting out Phil Collins - inspired, and they certainly got their monies worth out of it as they added little extras like 'come on boys' during the rugby. Though for technical genius had to be for the Skoda cake-car. Kind of makes my attempts at birthdays cakes look pointless!
Clayton, Brighton, England

These are not just underpants, they are M&S underpants.... Ad of the year HAS to be the Irn-Bru snowman (again)
Martin, Yorkshire

For me the ad of the year was the Mercedes-Benz one featuring bitter rivals Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton trying to outdo each other to the sound of 'Anything You Can Do' Great fun ad and, against the backdrop of the civil war within the McLaren team, beautifully topical too.
Craig, Woking, England

I love the MFI advert series, one of which is where a couple are telling off their teenage daughter, who storms into her bedroom, which all turns out to be in a store's showroom sets. I think it's by MFI - hmm, the advert didn't get that point across well enough then. I hate the Phones4U adverts just because of the weird people.
Paul, Stafford, England

'The M&S fifties style advert for clothes just re-emphasises my judgement that M&S clothes are stuck in the past and aimed at older generations.' Heaven forbid that the older generation have clothes they'd want to buy. Why don't they all just know their place and sit in a home somewhere? Or perhaps the add people understood the market base for M&S?
Andrew, Colchester

"The greatest drum solo in the history of rock" - I thought you said it was Phil Collins!
Richard Speight, Barnsley, UK

Cadbury's get my vote. But it would be nice (and induce me to buy more Cadbury's chocolate) if they donated some of the profit towards protecting wild gorillas and conserving their habitats. If this is not done, pretty soon the only 'gorillas' seen on TV will be men in gorilla suits.
Susanna Fox, Suffolk

Wot about the seamless Lloyds bank advert, excellent animation.
Edward, Shrewsbury

The Vodafone watch advert was terrible! You mention Cadbury's missing the point with the gorilla but this one was ten times worse. After every time I saw it I was just left thinking "eh?".
Simon, Newcastle, England

The Phones 4 U adverts kill me and are a good surreal laugh during over-indulged reality rubbish that swamps our TV's these days! The American dude just oozes normality, which being a yank is strange in itself, whilst the English freaks just mess with his head! Yet the entire surreal mess of freaks and yanks and a hand movement that says the product so quickly works a treat! May they long continue! "Wittling Dan.........What you wittling?" "My dream phone! Can you guess what it is?" The Gorilla drumming and the Skoda Cake car were both also, extremely well executed advertising campaigns! Adverts of the year without a shadow of a doubt! More of these please and less of those insurance adverts with actors more cardboard than the set back grounds and those bloody loan adverts!! Irritating beyond all humanity and just basically crapper than a bowl full of crap!!
Darren. N, from Merstham, Surrey in England

Nah! Skip the lot. However old you are there has to be more to life than watching someone trying to sell you something while pretending its entertainment.
Fraser George Macbeth, Surrey

The Cadburys gorilla advert is a massive skipvert for me, once you've seen it once it drags a bit. As for the spokesman saying it's in the same spirit as the flake advert - um no, honest mate - it's not at all. In 3 months time people may remember the gorilla but I guarantee you they won't remember what it was advertising. The other most grating adverts of the year that I have to turn off - number 1 is the Becks 4 step advert (it makes me want to break things, it's so bad) and the "we only had 20 to make an advert" award goes to Mars for a bloke walking down the road scoffing chocolate while playing New Order - no no no no no!
Matt Burnett, London

My skipvert of the year prompts the question, 'Who is Nadine Baggott and what are pentapetydes?'
Graham, Woking

The E.on advert was good but didn't that music really start getting to you after the second or third time?
Will, Cornwall

I'm with you for the most part but I have to disagree with your view on the 'This is not just food' ads. They make me drool every time, even when they're advertising things I don't like. and they work - I have been to Marks and Spencer's solely on the back of those ads. You also left out the year's most overrun - Boots' 'Here come the girls'. That ad is the main reason I'm glad Christmas is over.
Sophie, Belfast, Ireland

Those m&s adverts with the food in it are great!! makes me want to try food I've never thought of having, long may they continue!!
john, Birmingham

The Cadbury's advert with the gorilla drummer was absolutely amazing, especially the extended version. I kinda think they 'borrowed' the concept from The Mighty Boosh though!
Leyton Jay, Crawley

I hope I'm largely advert-proof. The Skoda advert was pretty good, but the drumming gorilla is the one most calculated to make me change channels. Not only is too long-drawn-out, but I had no idea for whom it was, until I read above it was for ... no, I've forgotten again.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

The M&S food adverts have worked the trick in my family, the constant "This isn't just cheese on toast..." type spoofs in my home shows that the tag line sticks.
Chris, Leeds

The Sony Ericsson advert with a mass of instruments all playing one note or beat in sequence still gives me butterflies every time the melodicas lead to apreggiated synthesizers. Advert of the year in my opinion and a great relief to watch an advert that is grandiose yet still remains in context with what it's selling.
Robbie, Cambridge, UK

My most hated ad, and probably the worst ad of all time, has to be the 'happy' couple borrowing 25,000 from picture. Whatever happens, I will NEVER borrow any amount of money from them!
Leonard Day, Cardiff, South Wales, UK

Drip, drip drop little April showers, beating a tune as they fall all around.. such a catchy tune. love it. Same goes for the Cadbury's one! :)
Lynn Brown, Glasgow

My advert of the year is the Smirnoff Red ad where the sea is 'purified'. Jaw dropping stuff.
David Tracey, Glasgow

I hated the Mail On Sunday advert, the shameless gender stereotyping was insulting to both sexes.
Beth, Huddersfield, England

My seven month old pug puppy goes absolutely spare at the high-pitched music in the Lloyds TSB advert - she can even anticipate when the ad is about to start, much in the manner of other dogs knowing when an earthquake is about to hit....
James Castle, Welwyn Garden City, UK

Personal favourite for me was the Smirnoff advert with the sea being emptied of shipwrecks etc to make it "pure" like their Vodka. Fantastic ad, I always like it when you don't know what is being advertised until the last second. And as a late entry...the latest "Belong" advert from Carling with the Eskimos. Superb.
Adam, Nottingham

Oh, yeah, and can we add the Boots 'It's the season to be gorgeous'-campaign to the 'makes-me-want-to-puke' list? Funny enough women do have better things to do than spending all our time and money on our beauty. How many waves of feminism do we need!
Tineke, Somerset

As always, my favourite is still the "You're barred" advert for John Smiths. This is mainly because it gets at my weak point: hatred of all things pretentious. Next would be the Gorilla (which still makes the hairs stand up, it's that good). I never saw the mail advert, just watched it, and that was brilliant. Still not as good as it was in the 80's though.
Kalvin Chapman, Manchester, UK

My worst ad for the year is the one for L'Oreal mascara. It's ridiculous that they use fake eyelashes on Penelope Cruz to advertise mascara. They now have it in tiny print at the bottom of the screen!
Laura, Armadale, Scotland

The gorilla wasn't real? Best ad of the year, surpasses the others
Robert , Sandown, Isle of Wight

I have to agree about PC World - possibly the most patronising and irritating adverts I've seen in years. My favourite advert this year had to be the intriguing and visually stunning "Sea" ad promoting Smirnoff - more like this, please!
Dan Ketteringham, Wrexham, UK


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