5 of the Best: Sir John Hegarty

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Over the years Sir John and his team created some truly memorable spots, one of which jumped right out of the screen and into their offices.

After the hugely successful “Black Sheep” campaign in 1982 Levi’s gave BBH a life-size model of a black sheep. It was sewn into BBH culture through the tagline “When The World Zigs, Zag.”

That black sheep is about cultivating different skills, points of view, as well as wanting to produce – in the words of Hegarty himself – the kind of “fresh” and creative work that helped shape the agency into what it has become today.

Levi’s – Black Sheep (1982)

Same client. Different ad. The year may be 1985, though Hegarty transports us to 1950’s small town America.

A young man walks into a laundrette with a bag full of rocks, empties them into the washer and proceeds to take all of his clothes off.

The spot was set to Marvin Gaye’s “Heard it through the grapevine”.

For Levi’s the ad was an instant hit, clearly recreating 50’s America with a healthy does of sex appeal and wit. It’s been said that in the weeks following, school kids up and down the UK ubiquitously sported slicked back her and a pair of Levi’s 501. Imagine an entire country dressed by John Hegarty.

Levi’s – Laundrette (1985)

Another client that helped Hegarty and BBH gain a foothold on the global stage was Audi. In 1982, Sir John visited its factory and stumbled across a line brandished on the walls: ‘Vorsprung Durch Technik’ which means ‘Progress through technology’. The line served as a reminder for Audi’s German authority, and the tagline is still in use by Audi today.

Audi – Vorsprung Durch Technik (1982)

What do you do when you have an extremely limited budget? Blow most of your £100,000 on a recognisable face to bridge the gap. That’s what BBH did when they were commissioned to make a film to showcase the history of the Johnnie Walker whiskey brand to visitors of their distillery. Of course for Hegarty, a traditional explainer film was never going to be enough. His team created The Man Who Walked Around The World, starring Robert Carlyle from hit films like Trainspotting.

Johnnie Walker – The Man Who Walked Around The World  (2009)

A personal favourite of mine is an ad created by BBH for The Guardian in 2012. Called Three Little Pigs, its tagline “The Whole Picture” tells the story of a journalistic landscape heavily impacted by the introduction of social media. Anyone can have a platform to share their views, for better or worse. But what BBH did in this ground breaking ad was masterfully mix everyday and fantasy to create something extremely powerful.

The Guardian – Three Little Pigs (2012)


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