Bafta pays tribute to Ridley Scott: 10 of the best ads by the legendary filmmaker

Sir Ridley Scott, one of Britain's most celebrated and important directors, was honoured with a fellowship by Bafta last night for his outstanding contribution to film and TV. Campaign showcases ten of Scott's best ads over the last 50 years.

"It’s been 40 years in this business and this is the first time they’ve ever given me anything so I’m not going to go quietly," a triumphant Ridley Scott said during his acceptance speech last night.

But Scott's impact on popular culture goes far beyond creating cinematic masterpieces such as Alien and Blade Runner. Not only did he hone his craft making TV commercials, he went on to direct some of the most groundbreaking and important ads for global brands of the 20th century.

In accepting his award from Bafta, Scott added: "Today the explosion of content platforms and social media have made this a far more accessible and democratic art form with an unprecedented reach, 24/7, 365 days. The opportunity to create authentic and relevant engagement, the future of film and storytelling can have, must have, a profound effect.

"As storytellers, we have a duty to be mindful how we use this power. We must strive to protect the core tenet of the narrative, that all the best stories tend to come from the truth, even fiction."

So Campaign has curated some of Scott's best work in the commercial sphere, some of which will be all too familiar and others less so.

1. Apple "1984" by Chiat\Day (1984)

Thirty-four years later and this ad is still considered a masterpiece, not least for the sheer bravery of making a spot about computers without showing a single device or even naming the brand. 

2. Hovis "Bike" by Collett Dickenson Pearce (1973)

There are very few ads one can remember after 40 years, but Hovis' iconic "boy on a bike" ad was such a success for the brand that it reprised the idea (not for the first time) in 2015. The ad shows a delivery boy freewheeling down a cobbled northern hill. 

3. Chanel No 5 "Share the fantasy" (1979)

Scott again pushed the boundaries for the fashion brand with a timeless spot. 

4. Pepsi "The choice of a new generation" by DDB (1985)

At a time when erotic advertising was considered risque, DDB created a sensual ad for Chanel No 5 that introduced the tagline, "Share the fantasy". 

5. Nissan "Built for the human race" (1990)

Filmed for the 1990 Super Bowl, this controversial ad is known for being pulled after a single airing after Nissan executives became afraid it would promote street racing. 

6. Orange "In the future..." by WCRS (1998)

One of many prescient ads directed by Scott, the ad takes a tongue-in-cheek look at a future where technology has become oppressive. It opens with a postman delivering letters to some delighted children as the voiceover declares: "Email will make the written word a thing of the past".

7. Benson & Hedges "Underground" by CDP (1973)

The same year as Hovis, Scott directed a heist-themed ad for the cigarettes brand that featured a maturing in the filmmaker's style. From copying American-style ads in the early 1970s, Scott began to feature more noticeably British characters in films, set in darker and more class-conscious tones. 

8. Barclays "The customer service programme" (1980)

Imagine a dark, dystopian world where you can't get proper customer service from your bank. This ad preceded a familar Barclays slogan: "Do you sometimes think the bigger a bank gets, the smaller your problems will seem to them?"

9. WR Grace "Deficit trials" (1986)

This bleak, futuristic ad depicts a scene 31 years in the future, in which the children of America have placed their elders on trial. An old man, standing in a glass-enclosed witness box, is pleading before an adolescent prosecutor and a jury of children. Shot in an abandoned church in London, the eerily lit courtroom suggests that the deficit has brought economic collapse.

10. Croft Original (1977)

Croft Original was one of several cream sherry campaigns that Scott worked on in the '70s that were based on PG Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster characters. This 1977 spot stars a very young Jeremy Irons as Bertie Wooster. 


Subscribe today for just $116 a year

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a subscriber


Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free