This Hilarious Ad Busts the Idea That Life Was Better Without Smartphones

'Best avoid that. Go left,' says the Titanic captain

Perhaps a course change makes sense. Three
Headshot of Doug Zanger

If the millions (hyperbole alert) of insufferable think pieces and research on the topic are any indication, separating one’s self from a smartphone is a pretty good idea. But, like all things in life, it’s about moderation. After all, some technology can actually make life a little bit better (Hello, no more going to the bank to deposit checks. Then again, what’s a check anymore?)

To that end, British mobile carrier Three launched an ad for its #PhonesAreGood campaign that shows what history could have looked like with mobile phones. Created by Wieden + Kennedy London and directed by Ian Pons Jewell, the spot rubs it into the face of the Luddite crowd from the jump, posing the question “Life was better without phones?” From there, the fun two-and-a-half minute film answers the question by diving into penultimate moments that could have turned out much differently if a smartphone were available.

As the Titanic steams toward the iceberg that felled the ship, a crew member sees the hazard and races to the deck to inform the captain. In calm, understated British style, the captain says, “Oh, gosh, best avoid that. Go left,” as “My Heart Will Go On” plays in the background.

In the next scenes, a group of Neanderthals discover the magic of pizza delivery, a king tries to determine which way to swipe, Eve slides into a handsome man’s DMs as she rebuffs the taste of an apple and Rome is saved via LinkedIn. Wrapping up the fast-paced, densely packed ad, a man captures Moses parting the Red Sea in the ultimate “pics or it didn’t happen” moment.

See, history could have been better—or at least different—with a smartphone.

“The great thing about Phones Are Good is that we can all see a little bit of ourselves in this,” said Three’s chief marketing officer Shadi Halliwell. “And although we shouldn’t be on our phones 24/7, if it weren’t for our mobiles, how would you find love [while] lounging on the sofa? Buy new shoes while sitting on the toilet? Or get a chicken cooked, seasoned, garnished and delivered to your door at the drop of a hat?”

The point here is that, sure, there is such a thing as tech/life balance, but in the end, #PhonesAreGood. Take that, tech haters.


Client: Three
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London

Creative Director: Hollie Walker
Creatives: Tom Bender, Tom Corcoran
Executive Creative Directors: Iain Tait, Tony Davidson
Group Account Director: Paulo Salomao
Account Director: Lauren Ivory
Account Manager: Lara Wahab
Strategy Director: Andy Wright
Strategist: Rachel Hamburger
Comms Planner: Lee Ramsay
TV Producer: Richard Adkins
TV Production Assistant: Aran Patterson
Print Producers: Rowan Ferraz
Design Director: Ryan Teixeira
Artworker: Jhy Turley
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Alex Coomer

Production Company: Friend London
Director: Ian Pons Jewell
Executive Producer: Luke Jacobs
Producer: Jon Adams
Director of Photography: Mauro Chiarello
Production Designer: Mark Connell
Costume Designer: Ameena Callender
Service Company: Radioaktive Film

Edit Company: Cut & Run
Editor: Ben Campbell
Edit Assistant: Chris Hutchings
Edit Producer: Ruth Minkley

VFX Company: Time Based Arts
VFX Supervisor: James Allen
VFX Head of Production: Josh Robinson
VFX Production Assistant: Sean Ewins
Lead VFX Artist: Luke Todd
Colorist: Simone Grattarola
Flame Artists: Matt Jackson, Leo Weston, David Birkhill, Stephen Grasso, Jamie Crofts
Nuke Artists: Leandro Vazquez, Matt Shires, Bernardo Varela, Sarah Breakwell, George Cressey, Ralph Briscoe, Manolo Perez
CG Artists: Oscar Diez, James Spillman, Mike Battcock, Jon Park, James Mann, Nigel Timms, Daniel Davie, Gareth Bell, Cesar Eiji Nunes, David Loh, Michael Hunault, Federico Guzzardo, Florian Mounie, Dan Hope: Matte Painters
Lisa Ayla, Sylvie Minois
AFX: Jess Gorick (TBA), Stu Greenwood (W+K), Andrei Veriotti (W+K), Laurence Mence (W+K)

Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell, Jake Ashwell
Sound Producer: Mary-Ann D’Cruz
Music Supervisor: John Connon @ Mr. Pape

Don't miss the Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit and Upfronts, a live virtual experience Nov. 16-19. Gain insights from leading sports figures on how they navigated a year of upsets and transformation and what's in store for the coming year. Register

@zanger Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.