If I were to say to you, “Emerson High, 1975. You were in my class” how many of you would immediately reply “I was your teacher”?
Bonus points if you remember that dork’s name!
(It was Bugsy Brown. BUGSY. Anyone who still had the nickname “Bugsy” in high school was getting exactly zero play with the ladies, even in 1975. I feel confident in making this statement.)
Let’s deconstruct this for a minute, shall we?
First of all, the movie Top Gun was three years in the past when this commercial first aired, but clearly it was still a part of the zeitgeist, because for some reason it seems to take place in an Air Force hangar. A gorgeous woman is walking through holding a clipboard. She is clearly a civilian, so that dates the whole thing, because in a post-9/11 world no unaccompanied civilians wander at will through Air Force hangars.
A uniformed flyboy approaches her and I think he’s Australian? Maybe? The accent is a bit muddy but this commercial is also three years after Crocodile Dundee and only one year after Crocodile Dundee 2, so clearly someone was trying to capitalize on what the The Simpsons called “a short-lived fascination with Australian culture”. He tries be all smooth, with his “hey, we were totally in high school together so we should get jiggy with it” and then BAM! Nope! The lady with the British (??) accent reveals that she was not his classmate! She was his teacher! So she’s at least 10 years older than he is! GETCHOO, SUCKA.
Let’s think about this for a minute, shall we?
The commercial aired in 1989. He says he was at Emerson High in 1975. Assuming that was his senior year, Ol’ Bugsy is now 32 years old. Again assuming that Miss Teacher is ten years older than he is, that makes her 42.
FORTY-TWO THAT MISERABLE OLD HAG HOW DARE SHE TRY TO TRICK INNOCENT TOP GUN TYPES WITH HER OIL OF OLAY SKIN.
What I find interesting about this – aside from how delightfully 80s it is – is that this commercial dates back to a pre-500 channel universe. People of a certain age ALL remember this commercial. It’s like the Tasters’ Choice coffee people ads (here one of my favourite authors / bloggers, Jenny Trout, gives us a complete recap on the series and it’s brilliant), or the old lady who wailed piteously “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”, or in Canada, “it’s Patrick, he took out life insurance!” We were all watching the same three channels and the same shows, and so we all saw the same commercials over and over again.
That doesn’t really happen anymore. Occasionally an ad will go viral, some multi-million dollar production designed for the Superbowl that hits social media and is the flavour of the minute for all of a week, never to be seen again.
The most persistently memorable commercials of the 80s had shitty production values, no celebrities, nothing to make them bury themselves in our brains… and yet there they sit, reminding us every time we got to the grocery store that Oil of Olay, twice a day is the secret to looking younger.
Which commercials from the 80s do you remember?