This one is likely to inspire some debate. We’ve rounded up our favourite drink adverts from TV and cinema over the last 40 years. Let the arguments commence.

Growing up in the 1980s, often the best things on television were the adverts. And no wonder, with only one commercial channel, ITV, joined by Channel 4 in 1982, viewing numbers were off the chart so there was a lot of money sloshing around. Top Hollywood directors like Ridley Scott and Alan Parker cut their teeth making commercials on British telly. And the best of this golden age were the beer adverts. It was very hard narrowing this down to only five adverts when I could have picked five from Carling Black Label alone. Please let us know which ones we have missed. 

So, to beat the lockdown blues, let’s take a trip to a magical time called the 1980s. Oh, and these ads might show some irresponsible drinking so we have to put a disclaimer in advising you not to take them too literally. Don’t drink and dive, folks. 

John Smith’s – Peter Kay running bomb

The no-nonsense series of adverts for John Smith’s bitter featuring Bolton’s finest Peter Kay were from the 2000s so outside the classic period but nonetheless they are some of the funniest things on television. It’s worth exploring them on youtube, with a pint of bitter in your hand.


Boddingtons Gondola 

Boddington’s TV and poster ads were always brilliant. Top TV presenter Melanie Sykes got her big break doing Boddington’s adverts. The one I’ve chosen is a parody of a Wall’s advert from the 1970s where an Italian smoothie steals a Cornetto from a tourist. 


Heineken – the water in Majorca

A brilliant take on My Fair Lady from ad agency Lowe Howard-Spink Marschalk. Not only extremely funny but captures the 80s zeitgeist where toffs would try to sound like cockneys rather than the other way round. Also love the full Sloane Ranger outfit sported by the woman. 


Carling Black Label Dambusters

Award for the best series of drink adverts has to go to ‘I bet he drinks Carling Black Label’, a catchphrase that was popular in the playground when I was growing up. This one from 1990 made by agency WCRS  might be the best of them; it’s a parody of world war two film ‘Dambusters’ but it’s really about how the Germans keep beating us at football. 


Southern Comfort Why do fools fall in love

There was much call in house for Southern Comfort‘s ShottaSoCo ad from 2015 but I don’t think it can hold a candle to this cinema-only release from the 80s. With its multiracial love story (racy in the 1980s), beautiful locations (it must have cost a packet to make) and evocative theme song by Frankie Lymon, it’s a feature film in one minute and 19 seconds.