Favourite ads from our youth

by The Wardour team – Jul 28, 2022

Levi 501, Shrink-to-fit

As a twenty-three-year-old gay man in 1985 this felt like a revolutionary advertisement. It appeared on our screens four years into the AIDS pandemic. Homophobia was rife and people were fighting for their rights and their lives. In troubled times, this advert felt like a celebration of male beauty. Whether intended or not it felt like it was saying it’s OK to find men beautiful. The viewer, whatever their sexuality, is challenged to look and cannot deny the aesthetic loveliness of Nick Kamen. 
Julian Thomas, Planning Director  

The Levi’s TV ads from the ‘80s and ‘90s. From Nick Kamen in a launderette to Brad Pitt having the last laugh in his pants. And then there was Flat Eric. They created an allure and a desirability for their product. They were stylish and cool. They also always had a great soundtrack which invariably went to number one in the charts, and people always talked about them. Interestingly, the Nick Kamen ad (1985) was when Levi’s first introduced storytelling in their ads. 
Charlotte Tapp, Senior Account Manager 


Milky Way

This one featured a red car and a blue car that had a race – the blue car takes the Milky Way road and ultimately wins the race. Me and my sister would pretend to be the red and blue cars which I’ll always remember!
Nigel Peters, Senior Developer


Empire Carpets

There was a commercial for Empire Carpets that played on local Chicago television channels from the 1970s well into the 1990s. The commercials themselves were seriously low-budget, but the ‘Empire Man’ was this friendly-looking guy with a tidy moustache and a gentle demeanour, who would talk you through the benefits of hiring Empire over any other carpet company. It was ‘us vs. them’. He just made the decision sound so sensible, a no-brainer. Generations of Chicagoans must have ordered Empire expecting the Empire man himself to show up. And then there was the simple phone number-based jingle, which my whole family can still easily sing upon request: “Five eight eight, two three-hundred, EMPIRE!” Even after all these years, if I moved back to Chicago I’d be hard pressed to hire any other company to lay my carpet! 
Leah Clarkson, Content Creator


Accrington Stanley milk

It’s got to be the Accrington Stanley milk advert for the Milk Marketing Board. Two young Liverpool Football Club fans are in a kitchen in their kit. Explaining to his lemonade-drinking pal why he’s guzzling the white stuff, one boy says that star Liverpool player Ian Rush told him if he doesn’t drink lots of milk, he’ll only be good enough to play for Accrington Stanley when he grows up. Then come the classic lines: ‘Accrington Stanley, who are they?’ ‘Exactly,’ the boy replies.  

I remember repeating these lines over and over in the playground with my mates. And I can still recite the ad so clearly 33 years on! A great bit of ‘80s nostalgia (and it must be an iconic ad, as it was brought back to life a few years ago with a cheeky remake using the same actor marketing a vodka based on milk). 
Eve Reed, Content Creator  



It might not be the most creative, but the slinky advert from the mid-’90s was a childhood favourite. The catchy theme song and mesmerising footage of the slinky travelling down almost anything was enough to make my brother and I insist we got one as soon as possible!
Jasmin Southgate, Content Creator


Fast forward to today and perhaps ads don’t have the same long-lasting impact. This might have something to do with the amount of content we see daily, from sponsored ads to general content on Instagram or Facebook. The ads mentioned will be forever remembered, but will the ads of now be remembered in years to come too?

Published Jul 28, 2022

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