During an episode of the Harry Hill show on Channel 4 in 1998, something rather remarkable happened. The first part of the show ended, and the advert break began. Except it was an advert break with a bit of a difference.
As reported on 23 July 1998 on the BBC News Site:
The Fast Show’s unique brand of comedy has been tapped by a brewery.
In what is believed to be the first deal of its kind, the rights to all 60 characters of the BBC Two comedy series have been secured for a £6m advertising campaign for Holsten Pils lager.
The advertising agency TBWA GGT Simons Palmer struck the deal for Holsten UK.BBC News
The campaign is set to run until March next year.
The campaign began with a roster of 20 different TV commercials, and a separate one for cinema ads too (a 40 second spot, promising to be more risque, featuring the tailors). It began on the 1st August 1998. At the time, TBWA Creative Director Trevor Beattie said:
People expect Holsten Pils to be edgy. We wanted to get people talking about the campaign in the pub and the key to that was getting all the characters. Just one or two wouldn’t have worked. We could even go on and develop characters of our own.
The arrogance of that last statement is hilarious.
The adverts were written by Jim Thornton and Christine Jones, working alongside Whitehouse and Higson, and like the other Holsten Pils ads we’ve looked at, were directed by Daniel Kleinman.
Come the 9th July 2000, the campaign was bought to an end.
Marketing Weekly claimed at the time that a source close to Holsten said the campaign was bought to an early end, because the brewer was unhappy with it. But as we can see from the above BBC article, it went on a year longer than originally planned.