Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Remember when you knew what ads were advertising?

So one of my current favorite ads is the Volkswagen ad with the two guys going on a road trip where one of the guys decides it would be fun to learn Spanish, instead of listening to music.

[This ad cracks me up every time -- probably because I've been brushing up on my French and wish all it took was a long car ride to sound fluent.]

The problem is that despite seeing the ad several times, I had no idea which car Volkswagen was advertising (turns out, the Passat). And I was more inspired to buy a language-learning CD than I was a car. Which, if the purpose of the ad was to sell me a car, means the ad failed. (Though, to borrow a phrase from my daughter, it was not an "epic fail.")

Now not that I buy stuff based on ads, but back in the day, at least ya knew what was being advertised. Today? Not so much. While there are lots of witty/clever ads out there, how many of you when you see a commercial remember what was being advertised a few hours -- heck, a few minutes -- later?

Call me an old fart, but I still remember Star-Kist and Charlie the Tuna.

["Sorry Charlie. Star-Kist doesn't want tunas with good taste. Star-Kist wants tunas that tastes good!"]

And I can still sing "Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don't upset us," the old Burger King song. (Though I preferred McDonald's burgers and fries.)

Also, all anyone has to do is sing "meow meow meow meow, meow meow meow meow," and I immediately think Meow Mix!

And I have a sneaking feeling these ads for Dr. Pepper, featuring David Naughton, may have been partially responsible for my Dr. Pepper addiction.

Anyone else a Pepper?

I could go on and on, but I'd like to open the floor to all of you. Which classic ads do you miss? And do you think advertisers do a better job today of selling stuff on TV or not so much? Leave me a comment.


Sugar Daze said...

I can say with absolute certainty that I am glad I left the advertising industry behind when I left my last job! So much has changed and it seems like it would be impossible to break through with all the new media.

I was just leafing through the Thanksgiving Food Network Magazine last night and was shocked to see Wendy's print campaign included the line "Where's the Beef?" It may have actually been before my time but one of my fondest ad memories is the Christmas "I'd like to buy the world a Coke..." The hubby and I often joke about the Budweiser "Wassup?" spots - especially the "Wasabi" one. And the ad that initially launched me down the path to a career in advertising -- Apple's 1984 ad -- shown only once on TV but made me stop and think, "Wow! It should would be cool to work on something like that!"

I did go on to work on many mostly unmemorable ad campaigns though I still have a soft spot for all the songs we used in our Burger King food & music campaign such as Patsy Cline's "Crazy" for a .99 cent Whopper and "Smoke on the Water" for a smoked bacon sandwich promo.

Edward P. Schwartz said...

When I was in business school for my PhD, we had to take a marketing class, regardless of our actual field of study. I remember the professor showing us the famous Diet Pepsi ad of the beautiful woman walking up a beach in a tiny bikini, carrying a can of Diet Pepsi. The video he showed us included a moving green dot that indicated where subjects had been looking while watching the ad in test viewings. Needless to say, the green dot floated around her boobs, occasionally straying lower or settling on her face for a second or two. The one place the green dot never went was to the soda can. Test viewers (men of course) loved the ad. They gave it great marks across the board. Only one problem. Most of them couldn't remember what product was being advertised. Seriously. They had no idea. I think this is why so many ads now end with a giant logo on the screen, along with a tag line including the product's name.

J. said...

@Edward, I hate to say it, but the commercial was for Tab. Which I guess goes to your point. (I'm still mad at Tab for making me think if I drank it I'd look like her. Must be why I switched to Diet Coke. Or it could have been that Tab tasted awful.)

@Sugar Daze, yeah, "Where's the beef?" has made a big comeback here, though it's a pale, pale imitation of the original. And the spouse and I still quote the "Wassup?" ads (including "How are you doing?"), though we wouldn't touch a Bud.

Dave S. said...

Naturally I had to click through and watch the VW Darth Vader ad. There is also this one.

Because I am much older than the blog hostess I remember the "can't believe I ate the whole thing" ad, AND had a Charlie Tuna alarm clock to boot.

The Meow Mix jingle bears an odd resemblance to a brief passage in one of Rachmaninoff's piano concertos, but that is probably my own mind at work ("Rhapsody on a Theme by Tender Vittles").

J. said...

@Dave S., love both the Mini Darth Vader and Mr. Roboto ads, but I couldn't tell you which VWs they were advertising (am I the only one who can't remember?), though I guess the fact that I know they are for Volkswagen is enough. (I'm actually featuring a VW print ad in a big presentation I'm giving in a couple of weeks, as an example of how to use humor in print ads.)

Kendor said...

@Dave, the Alka Seltzer commercials were indeed well done... I always remember the "Prison Protest," http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq_DUHObE6M And of course since they were chanting "Alka Seltzer," you always knew what product it was for...

P.S. @Edward as much as I hate to admit it, the original run of "Go Daddy" commercials, did get my attention enough to use them as a domain registrar and webhost..

J. said...

@Kendor, now I know what you were doing (watching) in your office late at night. ;-)

Speaking of hot chicks in bikinis, remember this ad for Dentyne? ("Brush your breath. Brush your breath. Brush your breath with Dentyne!")

Another David S. said...

Well, the soda commercial I look back on most fondly is the Diet Sprite one starring Paulina Porizkova in a white bikini:


The first time I saw this ad I was in college, and I remember feeling tingly all over and like the world--or at least my definition of perfection--had changed forever.

Oh, and note that the ad guys seemed to have learned their lessons at this point--if the placement of the Sprite can (level with her boobs) is any indication!