5 great beer ads

Pop culture correspondent

Whether you’re partial to a pint or not, British beer ads can be a thing of joy in themselves. We’ve popped down to the pub cellars to bring five that should bring a smile to your face.



Watney’s Pale – The Scaffold

If the Stones could record an ad for Rice Crispies and Jefferson Airplane promote Levis, who’s to blame The Scaffold  for exploiting the success of their Lily the Pink 1968 chart topper? Depends whether you’re a Campaign for Real Ale member or not, one might suppose.

‘We’ll drink a drink a drink
To make you think a think a think
Of Watney’s Pale,
The greatest a-a-ale,
So you can keep your medicinal compound
Now we’ve discovered Watney’s Pale.’


Mackeson - Bernard Miles

As much the voice as the face of Mackeson milk stout in the 1960s the wonderfully understated Sir Bernard Miles is, sadly, a name rarely conjured from the past. A bit like Mackeson itself, one could say.’ It looks good, tastes good and, by golly, it does you good’ was the maxim.  These days that last quality would probably fall foul of the Advertising Standard Authority as medically unproven.

Mackeson is still with us but not promoted by the makers. Some things simply transcend the vulgarities of modern commercial promotion, you know.


Heineken – Bryan Pringle

A delightful reversal of Pygmalian, as an upper class Sloane, all Princess Di collar and necklace tries to  speak ‘common’, spoofing the Lorraine Chase ‘Nah, Luton Airport’ ad for Campari. Bryan ‘The Dustbinmen’ Pringle is a terrific Henry Higgins foil.


John Smith’s bitter – Gordon Rollings

Before Jack Dee and Peter Kaye there was Gordon Rollings as John Smith’s frontman. As flat-capped Arkwright, with Tonto his faithful Smith’s-loving Jack Russell, the absurdly stereotypical  Yorkshireman (to Southerners, that is) roamed a Last of the Summer Wine village in search of liquid succour.

The gags were drier than a dry stone wall and at one per ad had a higher gag-ratio than LOTSW itself. By happy coincidence, the great Jane Freeman (Summer Wine’s no-nonsense café owner Ivy) played Arkwright’s distaff side. Have a round on us…


Look in at your local – Bobby Moore

A mid-1960s campaign to boost the profile of the Great British Pub featured England’s World Cup-winning captain and fellow England and West Ham player Martin Peters as, suited and booted for a Saturday night out, they meet for a post-match snifter with Tina Moore and Mrs P in their local. The campaign also featured pub natural Fred Trueman and the urbane broadcaster Jack de Manio.

With pubs currently closing at an alarming rate, a similar high profile celeb campaign wouldn’t go amiss today. Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard meeting up for a couple of pints and a game of shove ha’penny in the saloon bar of the Ferret and Handbag with Colleen and Alex. How could they turn that down?



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