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The year that everything changed. Blackcurrant Tango "St George" launched and suddenly, the advertising world knew who Jim and I were.

Tango: Trade ads

"Trade ads" was the term for ads that appeared in mags that shopkeepers read, like The Grocer. We wanted retailers to know that the brand was advertising and that this advertising would mean they would be selling lots more Tango. The ads needed to keep in the spirit of Tango which is why we did these.

Still Tango: Lofty 

Finally, when all the Still Tango nonsense was over, it was time to create an actual ad for the brand. Tom Watt was a legend in the 80s having played Eastenders weed, Lofty. To launch Still Tango officially, we resurrected the Lofty character in this bizarre public health message. We shot it at Brent Cross shopping centre which was hugely satisfying as I'd spent 1990-91 working in the meat department at Brent Cross Waitrose.

Campaign feature

In February 1996, Campaign did a feature on Jim Bolton and me. Integration was the new buzzword and they believed that we embodied the '360 degree thinking' that true integration involved. Basically it was digital before digital was invented. 

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Pot Noodle: Keith

Keith was 16 and a typical teenager. His girlfriend was a 28 year old model. Regardless of how out of his league she was, his Pot Noodle always came first. The ads feature my friend James Johnson (Tango's 'Housewives Survival Tips' idents were filmed in James' mum and dad's garden in Bracknell). BTW this would NEVER get bought today, probably for good reason!

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Tango: Millionaire trade ad

If you want to tell the trade to stock your product, why not slap a pack shot in the mag which they all read? Because it's too easy, that's why. Instead, take a shopkeeper, bling him up, put him on the cover of his own magazine, then shoot him in his shop holding the magazine with some of your product in the background. On hindsight, we should have had the wealthy guy holding a mag with his "before" pic on the cover. Duh. We were probably drunk.  Created for HHCL with Jim Bolton 

Church ad: X-Files

'The truth isn't out there, it's in here' seemed as good a line as any for the UK's churches, especially as the X of the X-files logo looks a bit like a cross. All was well until the megacorp that owned X-files pulled the plug and told us to cease and desist....

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Tango: Daily Mirror April Fools

This story appeared as sneaky editorial advertising in the Mirror. It was actually covert ops by Team Tango. They're lucky we didn't do the stunt for real - our client at the time did err towards full-on unhinged anarchy.


RED CARD: Chelmsford Sponsorship

Britvic came to us with a blank sheet of paper - or to be exact a blank can of energy drink. We named it RED CARD, gave it a football theme and sponsored Britvic's local club, Chelmsford FC. The idea was that CFC were so bad that they needed all the help they could get. The attitude in the posters is because of the product name and how the players feel invincible thanks to the drink. It also gave us a chance to bash Man U. Created with Jim Bolton.

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Tango: Cash Card

Back in 1996 there was no ambient, experiential or digital to speak of.  Giving away bank cards with six packs of Tango was revolutionary. The user had 3 attempts to guess the PIN and access £100,000. A medical student guessed it correctly, stayed awake for four days and cleared out £80k in £250 instalments. 

Alpha Course: endline

OK, so the poster isn't mine but the line is. This was an early project for Christians in Media, the rebel band of advertising God-botherers of which I was a member. Created with Trevor Webb, Martin Casson and Nick Drummond.

Blackcurrant Tango: St George

It's 90 seconds long and you can watch the making of it here to see exactly how much of an effort it was. Read about it in detail here. We called the ad St George because Ray Gardner seemed like a modern day English knight charging into battle. Created with Jim Bolton. David O'Hanlon, Minnie Moll and Pete Muggleston for HHCL.


The music we chose was Don't You Want Me by Felix. The idea of using music that people danced to while off their faces in clubs meant that they were more likely to have a deep affection for the track, and therefore for the product. Or so we were told. The single charted at Nº14.

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The ad was ludicrously long and was on the kind of scale that might be appropriate for a global airline, not a sub brand of a British fizzy drink manufacturer. This was part of the idea and was a veiled attack on Coca Cola. The ad only ever aired six times during Channel 4's TFI Friday and received a warm welcome from adland - it was voted Campaign's Pick of the Week

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It wasn't long before the national press caught on and began touting Ray Gardner as a hero for our time. Both the tabloids and the broadsheets loved Ray and his passionate diatribe. The anti-French sentiment was picked up on and either loved or loathed, but at the time the ad was written, the French were detonating A Bombs on Mururoa Atoll, and I was a paid up member of Greenpeace. See how I looked at the time the ad was written!

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By November, Ray was a regular on TFI Friday and was now a drinking buddy of host Chris Evans and producer Danny Baker. St George had also been Campaign's Pick of the Week and Creative Review's Pick of the Month, then in December Campaign chose it as their Pick of the Year.

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By the end of the year, the ad was regularly appearing in round ups and best-of lists and was picked out as an example of the yeear's most stand-out advertising by both the trade press and the national papers.

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The ad eventually took on a life of its own. It was even featured in an exhibition in the ICA. As far as accolades, it won D&AD silver, Cannes Gold, Eurobest Gold, BTA gold and was voted the best long form TV ad (1950-2000) by FilmFour. It has also been voted one of the 100 best commercials of all time.

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Ray's own local community were quick to hail him as a hero and a couple of local papers where I grew up back in Cornwall also picked up on the Tango story.

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Churches' Advertising Network: Bad Hair Day

This was our second Christmas poster for the Churches Advertising Network. Our previous year's poster  one was art directed by Dave Jenner - my first project with him, but has sadly been lost. 1996's poster made the front page of the Times for being so shockingly contemporary. Created with Martin Casson, Trevor Webb and Nick Drummond.

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