The Best I’ve Ever ‘Ad with Jonathan Waecker, Chief Customer Officer, The Warehouse Group

Which ad do you remember most from your childhood? What made it so memorable?

I will never forget the famous “Got Milk?” campaign. It was such a simple idea that was so incredibly well executed across every single touchpoint.

They managed to take an arguably boring, unbranded, commodity product (milk) and they made it a brand. The ads did the hard work of infusing a plain, everyday product with heaps of meaning and emotion.

It’s still one of the best examples of a deprivation marketing strategy, and the creative teams created some hilarious scenarios that used dark humour to show when only milk would do.

My favourite involved an Alexander Hamilton history buff who, just prior to hearing about a radio contest where someone could win $10,000 if they knew the answer to an Alexander Hamilton question, puts peanut butter on a piece of bread.


Just as he reaches for the milk to wash it down and win his prize money, you realise he’s out of milk.

As the final “Got Milk?” frame appears, you realise it’s the perfect tagline when nothing except milk would work. Genius.

What is your all-time favourite ad (or ad campaign) and why?

It would have to be the Absolut Vodka campaign.

The work succeeded in making the brand, the packaging, and the experience culturally relevant. It helped consumers to “see” the product in just about every single part of their lives. And when it comes to creative platforms, very few brands can come close. In fact, the last stat I read is that there have been over 1,500 variations of the work over 25 years!

The campaign also put diversity front and centre in a way that very few mass-market campaigns had done previously. To this day I remember how seeing what support for the LGBTQ+ community in a magazine ad could look like, and it really did make an entire community feel seen in a big, proud way.

Reflecting diversity in our communications is so critical to enabling minority voices, and as a gay man this one was personal for me at the time. And most importantly, it has successfully stood the test of time.

Which individual ad has brought you to tears, or had the biggest emotional impact on you, and why?

There is some fantastic work happening around the world, but when I think about the ads that have really stayed with me, Google’s Dear Sophie ad from 2011 still makes me cry over ten years later.

As a husband, uncle, brother, and son, how can you not cry at the story of a father chronicling his child’s milestone moments in a way that is in every sense selfless? In that ad we all see the father we either want to be, the father we want to have, the husband we want to be partnered with, or all three.

And the ending with the incredibly emotional “Love, Dad” moment with a piano-driven musical score that would make you cry even if you closed your eyes.

Creating all of that emotion via something that is effectively a utility is pretty fantastic.

What’s the funniest ad you’ve ever seen?

I think someone already mentioned the Australia Lamb ad from 2019. As a relatively new New Zealander I really appreciate the humour. It was an awesome part of my induction into the southern hemisphere for sure.

One of the ads that had been howling the first time I saw it was Tide’s Talking Stain ad with Saatchi & Saatchi in 2008.

It was a great example of insight – that a stain can overpower any conversation – intelligently brought to life.

And the cleverest ad you’ve seen? 

Walmart’s movie cars ad from 2019 that announced their pickup service was one that I thought was so well done.

They’re marketing a utility – store pick up – but they did it through such a fantastical lens that you almost forget you’re watching an ad.

And while we are talking advertising, tell us what you are most looking forward to about Advertising Week APAC/Live Events in 2021?

I’m particularly looking forward to The Innovation Factory, and seeing how some of our most innovative brands are harnessing and adapting to a culture that’s moving faster than it’s ever moved before.