Back in the 1980s, many people said the best thing on British television was the adverts. It was a tribute to the work of adland legend David Abbott, who died this week.
Abbott created some of the most memorable, wittiest ads ever conceived. It ranged from the clever – the brilliantly simple Economist ads quoting the 42 year old management trainee who never reads the paper – to the tender “Good Old Yellow Pages” TV commercial featuring elderly author J R Hartley using the directory to track down a copy of his book about fly fishing. He also overturned the assumption that only sex and sexism sold cars by brilliantly selling safety to as a benefit of buying a Volvo.
Abbott was one of the giants who made Britain a world advertising powerhouse. He had principles too: he refused to promote tobacco companies after seeing his father die of cancer, and as a father himself took a similar stance about the toy industry.
Here’s the famous Economist ad recreated as an epitaph.