My Favourite Writing #7: Stuart Harkness

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 whose 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 seven, with selections from Stuart Harkness (who played fast and loose with the 'three pieces' part, but they're all good so here goes)...

1 – Technics Goldie – The Closest You’ll Get to the Sound in his Head
This feels totally immersive. Sucks you in and paints a vivid picture of the inner workings of the mind of a musical genius at the time. Maybe I’m swayed by nostalgia, a misspent youth at the Blue Note before its demise and Hoxton became ubiquitous with leg warmers and you had to be riding a unicycle just to order a beer. But the sign off gets me every time.

2 – Sunday Sport – Hide and Seek Champ Found Dead in Cupboard.
Newspapers are the original headline writers. Selling their grubby wares from the shelves. Grabbing your eye. Listening to your voicemails. The infamous Sunday Sport sought to carve its own bizarre niche with far-fetched yarns splashed across the front page. WW2 Bomber Found On Moon is the probably the most noted example but the World Hide and Seek Champ Found Dead in Cupboard line still tickles me. I used to have it pinned up on the wall of my old office and whenever got work shredded had a quick squizz. Never failed to bring a smile to my face. Yes, it’s absurd. Totally inane. But that’s why I love it. Plus again it paints a picture. Of a man counting to his death in an airtight wardrobe. Brilliant.

3 – PlayStation and The Big Issue

I started out working at TBWA years ago when the place was banging out brilliant press and telly. The Double Life PlayStation spot written by Ed and James is driven by a great set of words. I still get goose bumps watching it.

Nigel and Paul were also resident at the time. And set the bar in terms of both writing and art direction. Roberts’ work on the Big Issue is a great example of powerful copy that pulls no punches. Yes it’s long. But fuck it’s tight.

4 – Nike - There is no Finish Line

Running sucks when you’re six foot six and weigh seventeen stone. Give me a football and I’ll play for 90 minutes. But the thought of pounding paving slabs brings me out in shin splints. Yet this makes me want to take to the streets like Rocky in Philly. To run up steps. And scream at the top of my voice. It is the challenge attached? Or the eternal nature of it? Forward facing. Perpetual. Amid a state of solace. Constantly pushing yourself to do better. A bit like writing ads if you still believe in craft. I sometimes look at the writing our Portland office has output over the years on Nike and feel inspired. Those pesky Yanks can write the tube socks off stuff. I doff my invisible baseball cap.

5 – Dos Equis – The Most Interesting Man in the World

On the theme of great writing from across the pond the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man In The World Campaign is a well crafted sum of its parts. ‘His charm is so contagious vaccines have been created for it.’ ‘His organ donor card also lists his beard’ ‘He once had an awkward moment just to see how it feels.’ Amazing. Even if it is a bit Chuck Norris. The thing is you can tell someone is clearly enjoying coming up with these. Pissing their pants as they put pen to paper. Not in an incontinent manner. But cracking up reading lines out in a suitably pompous voice. Finding the funny vein and then draining comedy gold out of every single artery. ‘Stay Thirsty My Friends.’”

Thanks Stuart.

My Favourite Writing #1: Mark Denton
My Favourite Writing #2: Drayton Bird
My Favourite Writing #3: Ben Kay
My Favourite Writing #4: Dave Trott
My Favourite Writing #5: Vinny Warren
My Favourite Writing #6: John Allison


  1. I love that Dos Equis campaign, one of my favorite beer campaigns. The tone pilfered slightly for that nice new San Miguel stuff that doing the rounds.

  2. Great choices - Double Life: Brilliant. Dos Equis: Great. Nike ad: fantastic.

  3. I can remember every single word of that Playstation ad even though I hadn't seen it for years. Great, great writing always sticks in the mind long after the ads have gone.

  4. "And conquered woorrrrlds"

  5. Angry of Tunbridge Wells5 August 2011 at 22:20

    Excellent read. There's more inspiration in this brilliant series than in the last ten years of Campaign. It's become the Hello magazine of a once proud profession. Sorry, scratch that. The Take A Break of a once proud profession. Industry bible my arse.

  6. The NIKE ad's last line is...

    "Beating yourself is a never ending commitment"

    Oooh Matron!

    Finbarr Saunders couldn't have put it better.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.