Kung-fu bear fights way to top of advert charts

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AN ADVERT featuring a kung-fu fight between a hungry bear and a determined fisherman has been voted the funniest of all time.

Chosen by the advertising industry itself, the commercial for John West tinned salmon beat offerings from beer giants, mobile phone companies and a leading cigar brand.

The advert, filmed in 2000 on the River Dee, was an instant success and won awards at the British Television Advertising Awards and the Cannes International Advertising Festival in 2001.

It went on to become a global phenomenon through the internet and has been viewed by an estimated 300 million people around the world, according to the advertising trade paper Campaign.

The advert also saw the Aberdeen and Grampian Tourist Board receive hundreds of inquiries from big-game hunters about visiting Deeside – chosen because it resembles Alaska.

In second place was an advert for Blackcurrant Tango, made in 1996, in which the brand's fictional spokesman, Ray Gardner, leads a march of hundreds to Dover's white cliffs. There he strips to purple shorts and stands in a boxing ring challenging France and the rest of the world after being criticised by a French exchange student.

Third place went to the 1989 Hamlet cigar advert starring Gregor Fisher, in which he is seen squirming inside a passport photo booth while attempting to adjust his comb-over hairstyle, before giving up and lighting a cigar to the strains of Bach's Air on a G string.

Ed Brooke, from the advertising creatives the Leith Agency, said: "Clever use of comedy in advertising often helps to build empathy and relationships between brands and consumers.

"Broadcast regulations often rule out a lot of humorous areas so when you create an extremely funny and original TV ad, it's all the more rewarding.

"The John West bear is a truly great ad. It's as fresh and funny now as when it first ran – humour that stands the test of time."

Beer ads dominate the list. In fourth place was a John Smith's ad in which Peter Kay rings his young daughter from a curry house to tell her not to be frightened of monsters, but to watch out for burglars.

Most of the adverts in the top ten were made in the 1980s, suggesting the decade was something of a golden age.

Humour, though, does not guarantee sales. Richard Wiseman, a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, said: "People may remember a funny advert but they will usually have forgotten the product it's advertising."


1 John West: Bear lands a blow for salmon

2 Tango: Tango 'spokesman' leads the way

3 Hamlet: Photo booth moment with Gregor Fisher

4 John Smith's: Beery message from Peter Kay

5 Carling: Dambusters mission

6 FedEx: Fast-talking businessman

7 Orange: Rapper Snoop Dogg

8 Budget: Jet propulsion plan

9 Heineken: Way to say 'Majorca'

10 Castlemaine: XXXX-rated role

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