Way Back When – Phillips TV Advert 1992

Following Manchester hosting the Davis Cup for the first time since 1994, we’ve been looking back at some of the great adverts that put tennis back on centre court.

From Sony’s Tennis Balls campaign in 2011 which featured thousands of tennis balls bouncing their way across the country on a journey to Wimbledon, to Robinson’s gripping Imagine advert in 2009 that brought the nation together in the hopes of a British winner, there have been some absolute stunners focusing on tennis throughout the history of television adverts.

But out of all the great tennis adverts that we’ve been reminiscing on, our favourite isn’t a TV ad – well, not really. In 1992, Phillips released an advert in print for their 41” Super screen TV, with some of the most creative use of spacing and copy that we can remember.


The team at Ogilvy & Mather used spacing to their advantage, forcing the reader’s eyes side-to-side to evoke the feeling of watching a game of tennis. Without having to spend big on hiring centre court to film a TV advert, the agency managed to bring a sense of movement to the page.

The creativity involved in selling a TV without using a TV advert – and in fact, never even showing a TV! – shows just how powerful copy can be when it’s used effectively.

Wherever you watched this years’ Davis Cup – whether in the arena in Manchester or from the comfort of your home – give a thought to the 1992 advert as your eyes dart back and forth, and make sure to remember that copy doesn’t have to mean words on a page.

For more creative ways to use copywriting, get in touch with Workshop Marketing.

By Conor Perls