British Gas, 1986

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British Gas
As Argentinian footballer, Diego Maradona handballed his way to become the most-hated man in the UK, a nation consoled themselves by buying lots of British Gas shares, reading a new newspaper called The Independent and watching a new Australian soap called Neighbours.

British Gas was one of the biggest advertising spenders this year in its attempt to persuade the British public to invest in its shares. The 1986 Gas Act led to British Gas’s flotation on 8 December. The offer was intensively advertised with the, “If you see Sid, tell him” campaign. The initial IPO of 135p per share valued British Gas at £9bn.

Meanwhile, the launch of The Independent ruffled the feathers of existing broadsheets, especially The Times and The Guardian, sparking a much-needed freshening of newspaper design as well as a costly price war. The Independent launched with the advertising slogan, “It is. Are you?” and reached a circulation of over 400,000 by 1989.

Another strand of award-winning advertising relied on the well-practiced combination of Australian men and lager. “Australians wouldn’t give a Castlemaine XXXX for anything else!”
Fuji introduced the first disposable cameras in 1986. And then there was the Casio SK1 Sampler Keyboard, a home keyboard with a basic sampler that is still used by some musicians like Blur and Fatboy Slim.

Snapshot 1986
Brand Value – $2,126m
Brand Value – Methodology
Books: Richard Ford writes The Sportswriter; Kingsley Amis writes The Old Devils
Events: The Wapping dispute; Prince Andrew marries Sarah Ferguson; Pope visits Mother Theresa; Branson beats Atlantic speed record; Argentina wins World Cup
Films: Top Gun; Crocodile Dundee
Music: Europe sings “The Final Countdown”; Berlin sings “Take my Breath Away