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My Most Immortal Ad: Paul Banham on FHM's 'Vote Gail'

The Immortal Awards 139 Add to collection

The Immortal Awards juror and MullenLowe MENA executive creative director on 'the greatest stunt of the 20th century' by BBH

My Most Immortal Ad: Paul Banham on FHM's 'Vote Gail'

With just four weeks to go until this year's Immortal Awards deadline, our jurors have been taking it in turns to select the ads and campaigns that are most immortal to them, revealing the reasons why they've stayed with them until this day.

Paul Banham, regional executive creative director of MullenLowe MENA, heads back to the heights of Britain's lads' mags era to tell the story of 'the greatest stunt of the twentieth century'...

The deadline for this year's Immortal Awards is Friday 10th September. More information on how to enter can be found at the bottom of the article.

FHM 'Vote Gail' (1999)

What’s my favourite ad ever? A question that has been bouncing around my grey matter for a week or so now. But honestly, it’s practically impossible to choose just one. There are so many that I love, so many that made me think: “f**k me - I wished I’d thought of that”. I vividly remember the day, time, location and office (JWT London) when Old Spice first went viral and how I left work that day feeling both depressed and inspired all at once. Equally, I remember walking the halls of WRCS, TBWA, The Partners, Leagas Delaney and many other great agencies as a junior and being blown away by the ingenuity and brilliance of the creativity that adorned the hallways. I love all the early work for Orange and the cleverness and wit of all the BMW work from WRCS in the ’80s, '90s and beyond. Then there are my digital and tech favs from FarFar, Poke, Dare, and Goodby. So what to choose!? In the end, I decided to go a little off the beaten track, to avoid the obvious candidates and to select a little piece of work that just made me think differently. As the sheer audacity of the idea/stunt (I love a good stunt, btw) stopped me in my tracks. Plus, while the idea is genius, the story behind it is equally as good.

A few offices down from my Digital ECD digs in JWT London in 2009 was a slightly bigger office at the end of the creative floor, which was home to two of the nicest creative fellas I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Now, messrs Todd and Scholes had a large collection of dusty D&AD pencils and Lions atop of a rusty filing cabinet that looked like it had been pinched from the finance dept after a few beers. One of those dusty pencils was won for the piece of work I’m alluding to.

1999 was the height of the lads’ mag era – a very different time to today – when FHM and Loaded were battling it out for enormous circulation figures. Their task was simple: to sell over a million copies of FHM’s ‘100 sexiest women’ voting issue. So, they needed to do something audacious and created a guerrilla-style voting campaign that included projecting Gail Porter onto the House of Commons. The next day it appeared in every national newspaper, and the BBC hailed it as ‘the greatest stunt of the 20th century’. 

The funny part of the campaign was that it almost didn’t happen, as on the night a British bobby (policeman) stopped them just as they were setting up and trying to focus the projection from across the River Thames. So, they packed everything up, put it in the back of a crappy old van and did what we Brits do best – went for a pint. Then, when the coast was clear (around two pints later), they returned and created a little piece of advertising history.


Credits

Agency: BBH

Creatives: Hugh Todd & Adam Scholes

Production: Cunning


Entries to The Immortal Awards are now open and Little Black Book members can make their submissions here today. 


Entries into The Immortal Awards will be accepted until September 10th 2021. All entries must be made for a commissioning client, and must have first aired, broadcast, displayed, launched or published between 1st September 2020 and 31st August 2021.  

Every member of LBB is entitled to up to five entries, depending on their membership tier. This year, Bronze members receive one entry, Silver members will receive two entries and Gold members will receive five entries. The full list of rules, including eligibility dates, can be found here.

If you’d like to enter the Immortal Awards but you’re not yet a member of LBB, sign up here today. If you’re already a member and would like to increase your number of entries, you can upgrade your membership here.


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The Immortal Awards, Mon, 16 Aug 2021 16:30:00 GMT