Sweet taste of success for a bitter campaign and its comic anti-hero

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The Independent Online

Peter Kay's role as the sporting anti-hero in the John Smith's bitter television campaign has made such phrases as "'Ave It!" and "Top Bombing!" an essential part of lads' banter.

Now the series, which features the comedian as a clumsy park footballer and pot-bellied springboard diver, has been named as one of the best advertisements of the year.

The campaign, produced by TBWA, was ranked among the top 50 by the Advertising Producers Association (APA) and praised for combining humour with subtle use of a celebrity.

Stephen Davies, chief executive of the APA, said: "People don't like to be sold to too directly and they don't like to see products or other people taking themselves too seriously. Peter Kay is a good actor and he is used sparingly and fits in well with the script. The use of celebrities in a self-mocking way is becoming very popular."

The APA, which represents professionals involved in producing adverts, chose as another of the highlights of the year a campaign for Honda cars.

The £6m "Cog" campaign shows the component parts of Honda's new Accord model interacting with each other to set off a chain of events. A month after it was first screened the agency Wieden & Kennedy was accused of copying it from a two-minute Swiss film called Der Lauf Der Dinge (The Way Things Go), filmed in 1987.

Mr Davies said: "It is difficult to say it was plagiarised because we are all influenced by something else. This was chosen because of its ability to surprise the viewer. It took hundreds of rehearsals because there were no special effects used. It got a lot of free publicity because people were so interested in how it was made that in the end it paid for itself."

Others picked out from the past 12 months included an advert for Levi's featuring the heads of mice superimposed on humans, and Marmite's "lifeguard" commercial.

A panel of experts from the advertising world reviewed 450 commercials submitted by agencies, producers and directors in Britain.