it’s a commercial racket

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.



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?


14 thoughts on “it’s a commercial racket

  1. I remember that add! Always thought it was odd they had different accents.

    For me, the commercials that really stuck in my head were ones with catchy jingles. These are ones I particularly remember:

    Hochtaler: (So kitschy!)
    Blue Startus: (Holy 80’s side burns!!!)
    Life Savers: (Used to sing this with friends at school.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This blog is such brilliance. “It’s Patrick! He took out life insurance!” I haven’t laughed this hard in such a long time. I actually have tears.


    • Casino Taxi! That jingle is still on the radio – I just heard it the other day. The kids were all “how do you know the words??” and that’s actually what triggered this post idea. And the Sobeys’ Christmas is still just lovely. They should do a reboot.


  3. I have to say both my parents quote that damn insurance commerical to this day.
    For me it is The Maple Leaf Bolenga commerical that I can quote every single word with no mistakes. “Pie, Seaweed Pie”


  4. I always watched that commercial and thought “so she was his teacher! So what? It’s wartime or something – DO IT ANYWAY”. Damn, she was hot. “Juicy Fruit -the taste is gonna move ya”. And the one with Baby Alive, where the little girl shows the babysitter what the creepy doll can do and the babysitter goes all gooey-eyed and said “Do it again!”


    • Right?? Rewatching it, I am also thinking “damn, HIT THAT, son!” Although I am also pleased by how the lady totally makes him lust for her and then cuts that shit off at the knees because his name used to be Bugsy.

      And now the Juicy Fruit jingle will be in my head for days.


  5. Oh Peter and his insurance. Totally forgot about that one! Here are a few more golden oldies.

    Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful!:
    One of the weirdest Kool-Aid ones. I always thought the Kool-Aid guy wasn’t cool because he kept crashing through walls and making such a mess:
    Raisins anyone?


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