Ad of the Day: Hovis Pays Tribute to Its Classic 1973 Spot With a Fun, Energetic Sequel

Kids race on their bikes, but what are they fleeing?

A classic ad concept rides again in Mother London's first work for Hovis bread.

"Stuck," a 40-second effects-driven spot, follows three youngsters on bicycles as they race to escape from a house that literally chases them outside—its brick walls constantly re-forming around them, threatening to quash their adventures.

The final voiceover explains the message, and it's a fun one indeed.

The spot is an impressive reimagining of themes from a 1973 ad, directed by a young Ridley Scott, that ranks among the most beloved British commercials of all time. The original focused on a boy peddling up a steep cobblestone hill in Dorset to deliver loaves of bread.

Hovis has revisited the "Boy on a Bike" idea several times since, including two years ago, when Carl Barlow, who portrayed the youngster in the original, peddled uphill once more. (At 54, he was really struggling. Dude needs to ease up on the bread.)

For Mother, referencing the 42-year-old classic was a no-brainer. "You say 'Hovis,' and nine times out of 10, people will reference that ad," creative director Tim McNaughton tells Adweek. "It's so iconic, one of those rare spots that has transcended advertising and become a real part of British culture."

Here is the original spot:

While the new ad works as a tribute to the earlier one, it succeeds equally well on its own by telling an imaginative tale from a fresh perspective. "That was important to us, that the lack-of-freedom story get told as a child would see it," Academy Films director Johnny Hardstaff says.

"There's just this feeling that it's all too easy to get stuck inside in front of a screen and forget that there's a different kind of fun to be had outside your house," says McNaughton. "Probably because there are so many cool bits of tech in kids' lives these days, they need help from parents, and us, to remember to get outside and have physical adventures. The kind you need a crushed sandwich wrapped in tinfoil for, and that probably involve climbing trees and using sticks. Sticks are always important."

Casting kids who could peddle furiously over rough ground, however, proved challenging. "Maybe because they aren't going out so much, kids' bicycle skills aren't what you'd expect," Hardstaff says. "It was chaos, but amidst the carnage we found three great kids."

In tune with the times, the new spot features a girl leading her two male chums away from danger. "At the age the kids are in this spot, we all know the truth: Girls are taller, smarter and generally more capable than boys," McNaughton says. "So, the reality is, she's the leader."

Equally in tune with the times, the young performers proved to be tech savvy. "Being lectured to about the importance of finding a balance between in-camera and digital VFX by an 11-year-old was a new one on me," says McNaughton. "But apart from that, it was mainly avoiding rain and cow pats."


Client: Hovis

Agency: Mother, London

Production Company: Academy Films

Director: Johnny Hardstaff

Director of Photography: Carl Nilsson

Production Company Producer: Annabel Ridley

Editor: Joe Guest, Final Cut

Visual Effects Artists: Adam Crocker, Anthony Bloor

Postproduction House: MPC

Postproduction Producer: Dionne Archibald

Sound Design: Sam Ashwell, 750mph

Music Composer: Tom Player, Wake The Town

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.