Irish television has been fertile ground for some of the most creative and ingenious television commercials of all time. What these ads lack in budget, they more than make up for in comedy and character.
These iconic ads may come from unlikely sources. From advertisements on mortgage dates to marketing the Irish territory, there really is no limit to what Irish marketing teams can produce.
Without further ado, here are some of our favorite Irish commercials.
Featuring an odd assortment of Irish phrases you’d likely hear in a primary school classroom, this Carlsberg ad hilariously showcases the beauty of the Irish language even when the words don’t make sense.
Some of the most notable lines uttered in this 2007 classic include “tabhair dom an cáca milis” (give me the cake) and “ciúnas bóthar cailín bainne” (quiet road girl milk).
The Financial Regulator – 2007
While this ad, with its immortalized line of “I don’t know what a follow-up mortgage is”, was undoubtedly funny, it also contained a prescient warning of Ireland’s impending economic crash. The ad is emblematic of Ireland’s jaded attitude towards banks in the mid-2000s.
Located on the top deck of a Dublin bus, the advert is etched in the memory of all who lived through the Celtic Tiger’s final years.
EBS – 2014
A modern classic, this EBS Mortgage Appointment advert is one of the most quoted adverts ever to air on Irish television.
If you say the line “two weeks in Torremolinos” to an Irishman, chances are you’ll hear the phrase “it’s going to be tropical” and all because of that glorious advertisement.
The ad, which advertises after-hours mortgage dates from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., features a host of brilliant one-liners, including the aforementioned “gonna be tropic” and the equally brilliant “there to dance.” “. (from the phrase up there to think, there to dance)
Barry’s Tea Party – 2007
This advertisement, titled “Strangest”, lives up to its name. Barry’s Tea is one of Ireland’s most prominent tea companies and launched this unusual campaign in 2007.
The ad documents a blossoming romance between childhood friends while making tea in the office and the closing line “I don’t know, do I?” is one of the most iconic lines of Irish advertising.
Guinness – 1995
Guinness never fails to hit the mark with its marketing and this mid-90s ad is as good as it gets.
The ad chronicles one man’s struggles as he waits for his Guinness to stabilize. He spends the seconds dancing around the glass until the pint is finally ready to drink.
The ad helped perpetuate the myth that two pours are needed for the perfect pint of Guinness.
Lucozade – 2005
This energy drink commercial was so traumatic that it was banned before the 9 p.m. watershed, but it’s one of the greatest television commercials ever seen on the Emerald Isle.
Instantly recognizable, it features a group of zombies entering a mall and participating in a game of basketball.
Cadbury – 2007
Although not technically an Irish-only advert, this 2007 effort by Cadbury’s is one of the best adverts ever made and therefore deserves its inclusion.
2007 was a banner year for TV commercials and this one might just be the best.
It doesn’t make any sense, but that’s fine. What better way to market a chocolate bar, after all, than to have a rocking gorilla on drums on “In the Air Tonight?”
Gas networks Ireland – 2016
For those not in the know, Daniel O’Donnell is a country singer who has amassed a massive following in Ireland. Most of his fans are older women, like the woman in this ad, and there would be no greater honor for him than to call them for a cup of tea and a chat.
Then seeing the change in the face of this woman, especially when Daniel, who is not a certified gas fitter, offers her to take a look at his boiler is a pure moment of comedy.
What better way to lift your spirits than having two-time Eurovision winner Johnny Logan walk through the wall and sing the 1987 Eurovision-winning song “Hold Me Now”?
The answer is that there is no better way.
This 2006 McDonald’s effort was the first in a series of ads to use the famous Irish singer to promote its “Eurosaver menu” and it’s by far the best.
Edge Na Mona – 1986
The oldest and most enduring entry on the list, this Bord Na Mona classic is about as comfortable as it gets.
It features a crackling fire accompanied by the Valse Marino des Dublinois. This commercial was so popular that the traditional Irish melody became synonymous with merry fire.
World News – 2010
To understand the context of this ad, one would have to imagine former President George W Bush appearing in someone’s closet to market a tabloid just two years after contributing to the biggest economic crash in a generation.
Because that’s exactly what happened in this commercial.
Bertie Ahern, the former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, was widely ridiculed by the public for this appearance when Ireland was in the midst of a financial crisis.
However, it made advertising even more successful through advertising. This, however, did little good for News of the World, which went out of business soon after.
EBS – 1988
A plethora of Irish adverts deal with the theme of emigration and the joys of home, but none capture it quite like this heartbreaking EBS advert from the late 1980s, when mass emigration was commonplace across Ireland. Emerald Isle.
The ad perfectly chronicles a young man’s return to his home and is a truly poignant effort.
Originally published in 2020. Updated in 2021.