5 Years Later, the Guardian’s ‘Three Little Pigs’ Still Blows the House Down

Hill Holliday's Kevin Daley picks his favorite ads ever

Headshot of Tim Nudd

It’s been a good year for ads from newspapers and magazines, from The New York Times to the Atlantic. But you have to go back five years for a truly transcendent piece of advertising from a journalistic publication—the Guardian’s “Three Little Pigs” spot by BBH London.

Adweek chose “Three Little Pigs” as the single best ad of 2012. And now, Hill Holliday creative director Kevin Daley has included it among his favorite work of all time in Adweek’s latest “Best Ads Ever” video (see above).

In light of the 2016 election and the era of fake news that has rocked journalism, the two-minute Guardian spot does feel dated in its unflinching optimism about how ordinary citizens can contribute positively to the journalistic process. Still, it remains a marvelous piece of craft that brought an inspired, inventive idea to life.

In reimagining the Three Little Pigs as a modern news story, the spot merged the fantastical and the real, vividly demonstrating the British newspaper’s concept of “open journalism,” which urged readers to collaborate in the news process by sharing commentary, images, even original reporting.

See the spot here:

BBH’s then-creative director David Kolbusz (now chief creative officer of Droga5 London) told Adweek back in 2012 that the choice to use a fairy tale was meant to guard against the ad becoming dated too quickly. Speaking with Adweek this week, he conceded it is a relic of its time in some ways, and that the role of quality journalism in people’s daily lives has changed dramatically since 2012.

“While it’s never been more essential, it has also never been more under attack, with the credibility of once-authoritative voices being called into question by a small yet increasingly vocal subset of the population,” he said.

“Three Little Pigs” heralded then-Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger’s vision of open journalism, which Kolbusz described as “a new approach to how the public experienced news predicated on the idea that inclusion made for a better, more nuanced dissemination of information—that there was no one authoritative voice on any given subject.”

What open journalism failed to account for, Kolbusz says, were “movements based on the subjective interpretation of facts, and the creation of alternative truths perpetrated by spreaders of misinformation—mostly for profit—designed as a knee-jerk reaction to progressivism.”

Kolbusz believes the ad does still hold up “as a narrative representation of how a story can grow, evolve and change based on the collective effort of a society.” He adds: “With any luck, in due course the Western world will recalibrate and we won’t find ourselves having to accommodate a separate reality for much longer.”

Check out the full “Best Ads Ever” video with Kevin Daley above, which he also singles out work from Gatorade and Google as his other favorites. See those ads below, and check out all of our “Best Ads Ever” videos here.

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.