As Calvin Harris once famously said, ‘it was acceptable in the 80s’. This, dear friends, is what we must continually remind ourselves of as we bravely wade through the thick hairspray fumes of 80s adverts. You’ll be pleased to hear that the sexism is far less apparent than in previous decades, as is any sense of style. Let’s hear it for the decade that brought us personal computers, pop music and more cringe-inducing jingles than you can shake a glow stick at. Strap yourselves in and prepare for some synth in our round-up of the finest ads of the 80s.
Don’t worry: this American Coors Light ad has nothing to do with the independent music venue opposite Finsbury Park tube station. It has everything to do with a very cheesy ‘local’ bar in which basically nothing happens. A girl might have got rejected, but it’s not very clear.
This advert is so weird. While you’re watching fake rabbits hop up and down, you’re told by a Cockney voice over: ‘If you want poetry, stand and stare. If you want great lager, follow the bear.’ If it does anything, it makes you really want to not follow the bear. Almost certainly unsafe.
Imagine if Madness mated with Bugsy Malone: this is the output. It’s a bit sinister, to be honest. The eight-second silence at the end, during which the gaggle of minty fresh children lunge off the screen, must be some of the most excruciating footage ever made.
Context is everything here. Take away the Levi’s connection and you get: attractive man goes into laundrette, strips apart from his undies, puts a wash on and sits down. Two naked men on the other side presume he can’t be a ‘Carling Black Label’ man because he doesn’t wash his pants. Insane.
Back when it was still cool to advertise smoking-related things, Hamlet made this ad. Gregor Fisher of Naked Video fame plays a (pretty much) bald man trying – and failing – to use a photo booth. The comic timing is genius.
We’d bet good money that the people who wrote this jingle were flying pretty darn high. Picture the situation: deadline day is looming, everyone’s in a bad way, it’s three o’ clock in the morning, someone starts incessantly rhyming and it’s the only idea they have so they submit it and BAM! This mindless song is born.
Here’s a couple of faintly dark adverts about cream cakes, featuring a chanting monk and two cross-dressing men clutching their breasts and chowing down on eclairs. Neither naughty nor nice, in reality – just a bit creepy.
Let’s all celebrate that pivotal moment when Cornetto stole O Sole Mio for itself, with a dubiously Italian man at the helm of a gondola, serenading an ice cream-eating woman who looks a bit like she wants to destroy him. Ah, romance.
This is quite a stressful thing to watch, but worth it. Imagine the number of takes.
Goodness gracious: is this the most 80s thing that’s ever happened? High-waisted, acid wash jeans, big hair, wearing extremely tight leotards in bathrooms, jamming on a piano in the middle of a field – this advert has all the good things.
Next week? The 90s. We’re pretty excited about it.