top of page

Carlton - The Big Ad: Breakdown

In the words of Ant Keogh, “What can happen when you write some stuff on a piece of paper?”

Released in 2005, this one-minute spot for Carlton Draught is our all-time favourite, and it is difficult to beat. It’s a big ad, and no other ad can be bigger than this – unless Carlton Draught comes up with another ad with this title. If you don’t believe us, then watch it for yourself and don’t hesitate to tell us if you liked it as much as we did.

Here! Here!

Also, the making of this ad is equally exciting

Before we go ahead here is a little background on Carlton Draught:

Carlton Draught is more than just a beverage; it has established itself as an advertising legend known for their witty and comical campaigns. Their remarkable advertisements range from the famous “Big Ad” (which we will discuss) to the amusing “Beer Chase” ad where a group of men chase after a runway beer barrel. Carlton Draught’s clever marketing and inventive advertising have created an enduring impression and placed it among the most cherished beer brands in Australia.

Now, let’s break this ad into a few segments to understand this film better.

Of course, the lyrics come first!

“It's a big ad. Very big ad. It's a big ad we're in. It's a big ad. My God it's big! Can't believe how big it is! It's a big ad! For Carlton Draught! It's just so freaking HUGE! It's a big ad! Expensive ad! This ad better sell some bloo-oo-oo-oody beer!”

When thinking about how to create a new ad for Carlton Draught, Ant Keogh and his creative partner Grant Rutherford came up with the line “The Big Ad” on a train ride. They later tuned it to the original score Carmina Burana “O Fortuna” by Carl Orff, and the creative wizards worked their magic to bring the idea to life.

Few words that Ant Keogh wrote on a page of paper worked like magic for this ad: simple, easy, humorous, and to the point. We love how the brand directly stated what they want viewers to know and act upon without subtly selling the product, lifting the veil on advertising marketing in a way that took us by surprise.

Direction and Choreography: One thing that can be said about this entire act is how well it has been choreographed. Two clans are shown marching towards each other, and the entire drama in between keeps the audience engaged, wondering what’s coming next. The creative team behind this production includes director Paul Middleditch, widely recognised as one of the world's top TV commercial directors, and Andrew Lesnie, who served as both cinematographer for The Lord of the Rings and a key contributor to this project's stunning visuals.

As the tempo progresses and the clans surge towards each other, an aerial shot reveals a Carlton Draught beer glass and a skeleton-like figure made solely from human formations. The yellow teams are the soft bubbles floating around aimlessly and falling from the fences, creating a bizarre yet eye-catching display.

Emotion: For brands, it can be a risky move to poke fun at themselves. It requires a delicate balance of precision and timing. In this ad, the dramatic execution is perfectly synchronised with the music, while the lyrics inject a humorous energy to the overall mood.

Casting/Location/Post-Production: Despite facing challenging weather conditions in Queenstown, New Zealand, an outstanding group of 300 individuals collaborated to create the cast for this ad. Interestingly, this spot was also chosen for the filming of The Lord of the Rings. The shooting went on for 3 days and later 3 months dedicated solely to the post-production!

Colour Grading: The colour grading has been meticulously executed to enhance the focused elements, highlighting the figures while retaining the signature hues that go with a beverage brand.

The impact?

The ultimate goal of any advertisement is to fulfil the brand's purpose, and this is precisely what the Carlton Draught ad achieved. Not only did it become a nationwide favourite, but it also boosted sales by an impressive 17%, propelling the brand to the top spot. The ad's success can be attributed to its use of viral marketing, leveraging existing social media networks to reach a wider audience. When an ad becomes the talk of the town, it has gone viral, and this is precisely what happened with the Carlton Draught ad, which was viewed by millions of people in over 130 countries. The brand responded by reducing its TV commercial budget to avoid overexposure, recognising the ad's viral success.

This ad is one of the most beloved and acclaimed ads in Australia and in the advertising industry as well. So much so that it has a dedicated Wikipedia page in its name. It has garnered over 30 global awards, including the esteemed Gold Lion at the 53rd Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2006.



(Georpe Patterson Y&R, Maboume)

Creative Director - James McGrath

Writer - Ant Keogh Art Director - Grant Rutherford

Producer - Pip Homing

Senior Account Director - Paul McMillan

Account Director - Sally Chapman

Account Manager - Sarah Gabralth

(Plaza Films)

Director - Paul Middleditch

Executive Producer - Potor Masterson

Director of Photography - Andrew Lesnie

(Animal Logic)

VFX Producer - Carcline Ronshaw

VFX Supervisor - Andrew Jackson

Loud Compositor - Angus Mckenna and Mark Robinson

3D Team leader - Andrew Jackson


Music - Cezary Skabiszewski

Original Music Carl Orff

(Winning Post)

Peter Whitmore - Editor

Clients: Matt, Cameron and Annabelle

bottom of page