Barbara Nokes is a British advertising legend. The work she created in the 1980s changed the course of incredibly famous brands and of the advertising industry.

This is a thread about her brilliant career.
1) “Gather your facts and get under the skin of your target. Talk to them in their language.” Barbara Nokes
2) Barbara’s creative career started in a day where all copywriters were out with the flu. The traffic manager asked Nokes, an agency secretary back then, if she could write an ad.

She said yes.
3) She wrote the copy, found an art director to finish the visual and sent it to the client, which bought it. After that day, she was invited to write more copy.
4) Barbara’s career changed when she met a Creative Director working at DDB London through her husband. Nokes would stay at the agency for a decade.
5) At DDB, Nokes’ main client was Volkswagen. In 1979, she wrote an ad highlighting the safety features of the VW Polo: “It was no accident that nobody died.”

The ad gained traction and helped establish VW’s engineering features in a fierce competition against the Ford Fiesta.
6) A year later, the client wanted to refresh the campaign. Nokes wrote a new headline as seen below.

The client liked the copy but wanted the ad to look different. “Why don’t you turn it upside down? Put the car on its roof.” he said. And a classic British campaign was born.
7) Barbara Nokes career changed again in 1982 when she was reading the Campaign.

She saw that Nigel Bogle was starting a new agency with John Hegarty and John Bartle.
8) Nokes had been on an IPA committee with Nigel and thought he was impressive. “If he was starting an agency, I wanted to work there,” confessed Nokes.

She met with them and became BBH’s eight founding partner.
9) At BBH, Nokes transformed two brands with her creative brilliance: Levi’s and Audi.

Levi’s came to BBH to promote their 501s jeans; and also to make the brand cool again.
10) Barbara was inspired by a guy at her local laundrette that used to get down to his underwear while his clothes were washing.

She thought that was comical, but somehow interesting.
11) Together with John Hegarty, they created “Laundrette” which premiered on Boxing Day in 1985.

The ad was so successful and it drove so much demand that the commercial had to be taking off air while the retailers restocked the product.
12) When BBH received their first brief on Audi, Nokes and Hegarty went to the factory in Germany to get to know the cars.

During the visit, Barbara saw some old ads in the factory with the words “Vorsprung durch Technik”.
13) Nokes had in her mind the research that the British public didn’t see Audi as a German car, but as an ‘Euro car’.

She thought the line could give them a sense of innovative technology and remind the public of Audi’s German pedigree.
14) When John Hegarty & Barbara were pitching the line to the BBH team, Hegarty was reading from a script and finished the ad with ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’, and then Barbara added ‘as they say in Germany’.
15) The ‘Vorsprung’ line would help establish Audi’s creds in the UK while becoming one of the most memorable brand taglines ever.
16) In 1986, Barbara would create another brilliant piece of advertising. Dr White was a sanitary pads brand looking for ways to stand out in a category where all ads looked the same; artificial and mundane.
17) Nokes decided to use humour to stand out, something not done before in the category.

With the new positioning in mind, Nokes wrote the headline “Have you ever wondered how men would carry on if they had periods?”
18) After leaving BBH, Nokes became Executive Creative Director at CME.KHBB, part of Saatchi & Saatchi.

Afterwards, she became an International Creative Director at Grey.

After retiring from ad agencies, Nokes finished her impressive career as a creative consultant.
19) Barbara Nokes created brilliant advertising that was based in product facts, but delivered in a memorable and entertaining way. It’s all we can hope for adverts that truly makes a difference.

The work she created still holds a special place in our industry and in culture.
20) I’ll finish this thread with a quote from an interesting conversation between Barbara and Nigel Bogle

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Uncle Bernbach

Uncle Bernbach Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @unclebernbach

19 Feb
** THREAD **

The 25 best British print ads of 1982.
1) Agency: AMV
Client: Volvo
2) Agency: Lowe & Howard-Spink
Client: Parker
Read 28 tweets
5 Feb
** THREAD **

The story of Apple’s “1984”, the most influential Super Bowl commercial of all time.
1) "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984.'"

That’s the line that signed off Apple’s groundbreaking “1984” Super Bowl ad, which left the audience overwhelmed with its visuals and message.
2) "1984" aired during the 18th Super Bowl, on Jan 22nd, 1984, when the Los Angeles Raiders defeated the Washington Redskins 38-9.

The advert successfully put the Apple brand in the minds of the mainstream American audience.
Read 30 tweets
27 Jan

‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ - The story of one of the best judgment calls in advertising history.
1) Towards the end of the 1970s, Audi was nowhere near as relevant as today. It was only known by some as an obscure sub-brand of Volkswagen. This reality would change over the next decade in part because of advertising.
2) The Audi Quattro, launched in 1980, was the turning point. It’s four-wheel drive system was a dramatic innovation and made it possible for Audi to be in the same conversation as the other luxury performance car brands.
Read 28 tweets
30 Dec 20
A meta thread with all of threads I've done so far on influential work and people in advertising history. 👇👇👇
1) A thread with beautiful ads from the 1993 D&AD advertising annual.
2) A thread with highlights of the seminal 'Ogilvy in Advertising' book.
Read 14 tweets
23 Dec 20
A HUGE thread of Bill Bernbach’s incredible advertising wisdom.
Bill Bernbach is the father of modern advertising. Much of the current structure of the ad industry and the values we try to instill in our work were greatly influenced by him. Most of us wouldn’t be here if not for Bernbach.
1) “I warn you against believing that advertising is a science.”
Read 52 tweets
2 Dec 20
How a delayed flight helped inspire one of the most popular advertising campaigns ever. A thread.
1) In 1971, Bill Backer was a Creative Director at McCann-Erickson working on the Coca-Cola account. He was on route to London to meet with the account’s music director Billy Davis. The two were to come up with a jingle for a Coke radio ad.
2) Backer got stranded in Shannon, Ireland, after his plane was forced to land due to a blanket of fog over London.
Read 25 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!