Tony Williams Directs Brilliant TV Ads

Tony Williams is a New Zealand film and commercial director responsible for many of my teenage and young adulthood cultural moments in TV advertising.

Crunchie Train Robbery

There’s Cadbury‘s Crunchie Train Robbery of 1975 which featured a number of would be train robbers, including a minister. The train is stopped and the treasure chests spill over – crunchie bars for everyone! It came out the year I started high school. I was in Tawa, Wellington when the ad was revived with a north to south tour of a Crunchie Bar steam train. The photo here comes from Brian Greenwood from his train site.

The ad comes with the song:

Life’s a whole long journey, boy, before you grow too old,
Don’t miss the opportunity to strike a little gold.
Out West the folks are crossing you.
The way to make them stop, is to quick draw your Crunchie bar…
-And fill them full of choc.
Have a Crunchie Hokey pokey bar, Golden Crunchie Hokey pokey bar.

Click on the image below to play the video.

BASF Play it Again Sam

I was in my first year at university in Dunedin, 1980, when the BASF Dear John ad came out. The ad, set in army camp, features a soldier receiving a letter which goes to the tune of “Dear John”, the country song written by Lewis Talley, Fuzzy Owen and Billy Barton and made popular by Jean Shepard during the Korean war.

Dear John, Oh how I hate to write.
Dear John, Oh how I miss you so, tonight.
But my love for you has gone,
So I’m sending you this song.
Tonight I’m with another.
You’ll like him John,
He’s your brother.
So adieu to you forever.
Dear John.

As the song finishes the sergeant adapts the classic line from Humphrey Bogart, “Play it again John”.

Click on the image below to play the video.

Download Jean Shepard’s version at iTunes.

Jean Shepard at iTunes

Toyota Hilux Bugger

Dog says bugger in Toyota Hilux TV Ad

In 1998 Williams directed the classic Toyota Hilux ‘Bugger’ ad for Saatchi and Saatchi NZ. The whole idea was that this 4 wheel drive vehicle was more powerful than anyone could expect. The farmer and his ute have a number of mishaps – knocking over the fence, pulling the front wheels off the tractor, flattening the dunny with a stump, doing some (unseen) damage to a swamped cow, dirtying the washing, and leaving the dog behind. The word ‘bugger’ is used by the Wal (of Footrot Flats) like character, his wife and his dog.

Click on the image below to play the video.

The ad would have been discussed in every home in NZ – was it OK to use the word ‘bugger’? Despite the resulting complaints the ad continued. Australia picked up the ad with hardly any problems. “Bugger” entered the NZ vocabulary like never before. I remember visiting Dunedin the weekend of the Super 12 Rugby Final between the Otago Highlanders and Canterbury Crusaders. On the way in from the airport I passed a shed with ‘Go the Highlanders!” painted on the roof. On the way back to the airport this was crossed out and underneath was the word, “Bugger!”

Ads directed by Tony Williams

Tony WilliamsSydney Film Company represent Tony Williams in New Zealand and Australia.

Cadbury Crunchie – Train Robbery
Toyota Hilux – Bugger
Toyota Hilux – Bugger 2
BASF – Dear John
Coke – Sky Surfer – 1992
Telecom – Spot the Dog*
Air New Zealand – Being There – 2002
Cherry Coke – Drummer Audition
Air NZ – Band
Air NZ – Fishing
Air New Zealand – Grandfather
Instant Kiwi – Exam
Cadbury Roses – Goldilocks* (Ambience Entertainment)
Westpac Trust Helicopter
Levis Red Tab
Uncle Toby’s Le Snak – Monkey Business
Hyundai Baby Restless

Tony Williams is one of the senior figures in New Zealand film. Hopefully he’s got a few more artful ads up his sleeve yet. I like his quote in OnFilm in July 2004:

“TVCs don’t give the satisfaction of personal vision in an auteur movie sense but there’s more satisfaction in creating cultural icons that the whole country talks about and loves, than a movie that flops and no-one sees.”

Thanks to John Curnow and Sydney Film Company for the photograph of Tony Williams.

See the Tony Williams YouTube channel.