Growing up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan during the 80’s meant that I was subjected to a lot of dodgy TV advertising from affiliate stations in Spokane and Fargo. Most of it was about used cars, furniture, or pancake restaurants, none of which were particularly interesting to my Flashdancified little imagination.
I remember that my parents bought a brand new TV (without a remote) for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. I think this might be when my love affair with commercials began. My younger sister and I would recite or sing them word for word at bedtime. Those days led to a lifelong fascination and appreciation for the medium. Imagine my excitement at 16 when our local campus theatre would run The World’s Greatest Commercials, which were largely comprised of extremely witty and clever award-winning campaigns from European and especially British agencies. No making out ensued during such screenings. I was rapt.
Iconic commercials are part of our cultural fabric, serving as a complementary soundtrack to our phases and ages. That’s why when Jimmy, being British, brought this 1989 Maxell campaign to my attention, I pretty much said “ooooooh!”, stopped all activity and watched in a glow of nostalgia envy. The British make the best ads. I wish we’d had these:
The Maxell ads brilliantly capture a completely relatable phenomenon – the misheard lyric. Combined with the recognizable and undeniably cool flipping card technique made famous in Bob Dylan’s video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, and excellent songs, these ads are everything successful marketing should be. Simple. Memorable. Emotional. You’ll never hear these songs the same again, and you certainly won’t forget that Maxell gave you 30 seconds of pure enjoyment. And they sold you a lot of blank tapes, too.
The campaign was created by defunct British agency Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury, and won lots of fancy awards at Cannes, as one does.
It’s time to go and bring out my collection. Who wants a mix tape?