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They made it sticky: happiness is a cigar called Hamlet

Hey, kids! Hey, people-under-let's-say-30! Here's something you can try with a middle-aged or beyond middle-aged person. Sit them down in a comfy chair, hook their ear-trumpet up to a smartphone, and play them the Jacques Loussier version of Bach's Air on a G String. Here you go:

Here's what will happen.

After about 40 seconds, they will say, "Ah, that's the Hamlet ad."

Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet was an ad campaign that ran from 1966 until TV cigar advertising was banned in 1991. It's easily one of the most memorable campaigns of its era. All the ads feature the same simple theme: a man finds himself beset by troubles, and takes solace by lighting up his Hamlet cigar.

(And yes, that is Gregor Fisher).

The campaign was created by the Collett Dickensen Pearce agency, who were responsible for many iconic adverts of the 60s and 70s. Some of the luminaries of British cinema cut their teeth there, including David Puttnam, Sir Alan Parker, and Sir Ridley Scott.

There is so much to admire about the Hamlet ads. There's the careful selection of comic situations— many, like the photo-booth example, are slice-of-life scenarios. They're relatable; they make us say, "that's the sort of thing that happens to me!" There's the attractive idea of someone shrugging at life's vicissitudes. And then there's the music. Choosing Bach's famously contemplative piece was brilliant enough. Using a super-chilled jazz version was a stroke of genius.

Tobacco ads are now a historical relic, and probably rightly so, but there's no denying the creativity of these ads. Or how well they're remembered. Don't believe us? Then find someone over 40 and try our simple Air on a G String experiment.

Want to see more ads that inspire? Take a look at Apple's iPod Silhouettes or easyJet's Puns.

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