Ashley Walters sat next to another version of himself at a table with a teapot and PG Tips box on top, taken from the brand's new advert

PG Tips returns with an ad by Steve McQueen

The artist and Oscar-winning filmmaker has directed the brand’s first spot since 2016, which stars Top Boy’s Ashley Walters giving himself a pep talk over a brew

After an eight-year hiatus from the nation’s TV screens, PG Tips is back with a campaign for its latest tea blend, which is designed to deliver a good cuppa in just 60 seconds (a need that is based on research showing that the average Brit doesn’t have four or five minutes to spare brewing a tea).

It’s a telling sign of the rushed pace of life today – something its new campaign by London-based agency Calling aims to offer respite from. Built around the brand line ‘It’s Not Just Tea. It’s Progress’, the campaign positions PG Tips as the helping hand needed to get each of us through daily challenges, big or small. It’s a world away from Johnny Vegas and the famous Monkey mascot, as the brand moves towards a more introspective tone.

The ad’s name, Rock Solid, is a knowing nod to its star, Ashley Walters, who before starring in dramas like Top Boy was a member of British garage group So Solid Crew. In the ad, Walters stars twice over as he gives a pep talk to himself before addressing the nation, all set to the sounds of Mercury Prize-winning group Ezra Collective.

The 70-second spot has been directed by Steve McQueen – a rare foray into commercial work for the artist and Oscar-winning filmmaker, who has only worked on a small clutch of fashion films in the past. “I was very happy to be able to tell this story by collaborating with such a heritage brand, which has been in the bloodstream of the nation for nearly 100 years,” McQueen says.

On top of the spot, the campaign will roll out across outdoor ads, digital activity, as well as merchandise, including the charming Rock Solid mug that appears in the film.

“PG Tips is a legend that’s lost relevance in recent times,” says Josh Tenser, ECD and co-founder of Calling. “Bringing it back with the scale it deserves has been a privilege and the best possible challenge. The promise of the brand is a moment of fresh perspective inside the noise of life. Our progress begins with these humble moments of recovery and reflection. We’re more resilient than we think. It’s a message we need – and deserve – more than ever.”

Agency: Calling
Director: Steve McQueen
Production Company: Lammas Park Advertising
DOP: Rob Hardy
Post Production: Freefolk
Music Supervision: Leland Music