'Silver Lady' by Isobel for National Express

Thinkboxes May/June Winner 2014

Regarded by many as old-fashioned and uncomfortable, coach travel gets an unexpected boost in National Express' "Silver Lady" ad, created by Isobel, which has won the May/June 2014 Thinkboxes Award for TV ad creativity.

National Express positions itself as a good-time brand, and the ad, featuring actor/singer David Soul, brings that to life. The one-time Starsky & Hutch star plays a happy-go-lucky coach driver singing his 1977 number-one hit as he drives passengers across Britain.

Susanna Holdsworth, marketing director at National Express, said: "The campaign is built around reasons for travel. Our strategy was to focus on different groups that travel with us and their reasons for doing so.”

"We're really taking the opportunity to showcase our product - the vehicle - with high-quality, soft-focus photography and the ad has a dreamy, film-like quality. We're targeting people who would benefit from travelling with us, but who may not consider us, by opening their eyes to coach travel in a memorable way.

This is a world away from our previous campaigns, which have been playful and cartoonish. It also reflects a new-found confidence in the business, which has seen a revival in its fortunes since 2012, one of the toughest years in the company's history. So we are thrilled to have won this acknowledgement of what everyone involved agrees has been an excellent campaign to work on.

Susanna Holdsworth Marketing Director, National Express

Client National Express; Ad agency Isobel; Creative team David Alexander, Rob Fletcher; Production HSI; Director Olly Williams

Other ads on the podium

Royal London: Ye olde pensions (2nd)

  • Creative agency VCCP
  • Creative team Chris Birch, Jonny Parker
  • Client Emma Hill
  • Production company Park Pictures
  • Director Nathan Price

McDonald's: Hunter gatherer (3rd)

  • Creative agency Leo Burnett
  • Creative team Steve Robertson, Laurie Smith
  • Client Stephen Hill
  • Production company Outsider
  • Director James Rouse

Also shortlisted

Pets at Home: My pet moments

  • Creative agency Krow Communications
  • Creative team Nick Hastings, Jon Mitchell, Darryl George
  • Client Scott Jefferson
  • Production company Red Bee Media
  • Director Joan Hillary

Wilko: Keeping up with the Rogers

  • Creative agency TBWA\ Manchester
  • Creative team Zoe Harris, Ant Harris
  • Client Fiona Gun
  • Production companies Blink
  • Director Zak Emerson

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

David Soul the coach driver? On every level it’s wrong – but so right. It manages to be funny, beautiful and make you get a little emotional all at once. It’s brilliantly, illogically daft and, of course, it defies analysis. Like all the best things do.”

John Townshend Founder, Now

Click here to see who won the previous award

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