My Favourite Writing #3: Ben Kay

As our regular reader will know, it’s our belief that regardless of strategy, creativity and the creative crafts ultimately make the difference between great advertising and not-so-great advertising. And none more so than great writing. Regardless of media or technology, great writing is still the most powerful tool available to the marketer and advertiser. So we've been asking people who’s opinions we respect to tell us their favourite three pieces of advertising writing. And thankfully most of them didn't tell us to fuck off. We’re running them as an irregular series, today's is number three, with selections from Ben Kay...

“My three favourite pieces of copy are two press ads from 1987 and a TV ad from 2010.

The first is this press ad for The Guardian (writer: Tim Riley, art director: Peter Gausis):

I think it’s a perfect ad because it’s impossible not to read it. Then, when you read it, before you know it you’ve just taken in a story involving ass-to-mouth:

During the H-Block hunger strike, IRA prisoners wrote thousands of messages on cigarette papers like this one, each message was screwed up into a ball, hidden inside the prisoner’s anus, slipped to a visitor, hidden again in the visitor’s mouth, then taken to IRA headquarters. Now you can read these messages – The inside story of the hunger strike ‘ten men Dead’ by David Beresford starts tomorrow in The Guardian.

The second, from the same year, makes me laugh out loud every time I read it. It’s a 1987 ad for Epson printers (writer: Kevin Baldwin) that’s a pastiche of the ads for memory guides that were so prevalent at the time:

It’s far too long to reproduce, but I’ll just direct you to page 100 of the 1988 D&AD (it won that year’s pencil for copy), and give you a taster with these opening paragraphs:

“I remember you!” I said. “You’re Sid Hyde from Cockermouth! You’re a game breeder, aren’t you? And how’s your wife Shirley getting on these days?”
“I’m not Sid Hyde,” came the reply.
“Oh. Well in that case, you’re surely from Sidmouth! You’re getting cock-eyed, aren’t you? And how’s your breeding wife these days – on the game?”
That wasn’t right either and I’ve still got the bruises to prove it.


Example number three is the recent Old Spice TV ad:

It’s funny and cool, of course, but it also manages to communicate so much with so many twists in thirty seconds that you just have to take your hat off. But don’t bother putting it back on, because you’ll be taking it off again to honour the way it creates a style of writing and speech that you’ve never heard before and makes it work brilliantly. Genius.”

Thanks Ben.

My Favourite Writing #1: Mark Denton
My Favourite Writing #2: Drayton Bird


  1. My pleasure.

    Thanks for the oxygen of publicity.

  2. Heh. I remember that Guardian ad, a classic.

  3. It would be nice to know the names of the copywriter and art director on these ads.

  4. It certainly would. If anyone can fill in the blanks we'll post them up.

  5. Tim Riley wrote the Guardian one. Art director was Peter Gausis.

    I can't remember the others.

    I think Kevin Baldwin wrote the Epson one.

  6. It was indeed Kevin Baldwin who wrote the Epson ad. The entire campaign can be viewed here:


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