Thinkboxes March/April 2012 Winner: Audi’s 'The Swan', by BBH London

Car manufacturer Audi has always had a strong focus on innovation and technology, a concept that was brought to life in this ad, titled ‘The Swan’.

The spot represents how its cutting-edge concept cars of the 20s have led to today’s aerodynamically efficient models. A witty take on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling, it features the Danny Kaye song of the same name.

The black-and-white creative features shots of an early concept car driving through a village, shunned by disapproving locals. The ‘ugly duckling’ then transforms into the Audi A5.

“The model-maker built it from scratch in just six weeks. Everywhere we went during filming, it drew a crowd and many people asked how old it was.”

Dean believes the ad’s success lies in the fact that most people are familiar with The Ugly Duckling fairy tale, ensuring that it has a wide appeal.

Audi research shows the ad performed very strongly – evidence, says Dean, that a simple story, well-told, goes a long way. 


We had to recreate the car with only a few grainy old photos as reference.

Kristian Dean National Communications Manager, Audi

Client Audi UK; Ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty; Creative team Matt Doman, Ian Heartfield, Nick Kidney, Kevin Stark; Production Park Pictures; Director Joachim Back

Other ads on the podium

Procter & Gamble Best Job In The World  (2nd)

  • Creative agency Wieden & Kennedy
  • Creative team Susan Hoffman, Mark Fitzloff, Danielle Flagg, Karl Lieberman, Kevin Jones, Ollie Watson
  • Client Nathan Homer
  • Production company Anonymous Content
  • Director Alejandro González Iñárritu

Weetabix Dad’s Day Out  (3rd)

  • Creative agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty London
  • Creative team Dominic Goldman, David Kolbusz, Graham Cappi, James Gillham
  • Client Hannah Blackburn
  • Production company Moxie Pictures
  • Director Frank Todaro

Also shortlisted

The National Lottery Hero’s Return

  • Creative agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
  • Creative team Alex Grieve, Adrian Rossi
  • Client Paula Withell
  • Production company Stink
  • Director John Hillcoat

Visa Europe Bolt Versus London

  • Creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi
  • Creative team Mark Norcutt, Laurence Quinn, David Goss, Oliver Wolf
  • Client Mariano Dima
  • Production company Partizan
  • Director Traktor 

A view from a Thinkbox Academy member on this month's picks


To my small and lizard-like mind, there is no disposable medium so powerful when it comes to provoking an emotional response – a good television commercial can be as memorable and affecting as a good pop song. And there are, indeed, a couple of very lovely spots here.

Jonathan Burley Executive Creative Director, CHI & Partners


Click here to see who won the previous award

You might also like

Breaking ads

We update this gallery weekly with a collection of the latest and best ads breaking on TV.


The best ads from the Super Bowl 2022

The biggest moment in the annual global sports calendar, our gallery showcases the best TV ad creativity from the big day.


Great TV creative from around the world in 2021

The best in TV advertising creative from around the world according to Thinkbox's Associate members.