Best ads in 50 years: Monkeying around with PG Tips

‘Mr Shifter’ and ‘Al and Monkey’

Davidson Pearce and Mother / 1971 and 2000s

“Mr Shifter” is one of those iconic ads that have become almost impossible to judge from the enlightened viewpoint of 2018. To say the world has moved on from a time when dressing animals as humans was entertainment is the mother of all understatements. But let’s try. It’s different. It makes me think PG Tips tastes good. It’s funny-ish. “You hum it, son, I’ll play it” has to be one of the best advertising punchlines ever. It is populist and mainstream and must have been loved to still be remembered some 40-odd years later.

Best ads in 50 years: Monkeying around with PG Tips

Unlike “Mr Shifter”, I was there when “Al and Monkey” landed on our screens. I think I love it more now than I did then. Funny, charming, rewarding. It’s rare I sit through anything that’s longer than a minute, but this held me all the way to the end. I luxuriated in every second of the wonderfully warm pastiche of the Morecambe and Wise breakfast sketch. It felt slow, in a good way. And like its distant ancestor, it too unashamedly sells – heck, they even say the endline out loud!

Of course the right brand with the right purpose is a powerful thing. But sometimes just selling me something (and entertaining me while you do it) is OK.

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