(New to the countdown? Catch up here.)
Robert Plant’s exploding lightbulb segues elegantly into a clip of a rocket taking off, heralding the sixth appearance of the promo spot for MTV’s “Big Bang ’89.” This time through, I’m admiring the work of the network’s graphics department: crosshairs moving across maps, an animated explosives detonator, grids of spinning clocks.
A spot for Michelob Dry. It turns out that “dry” beer (“dry” meaning “less sweet”) was a Japanese mania–in 1987, the dry share of the Japanese beer market had rocketed from zero to 39 percent. (Obviously, it never really took off in the States.) I’ve written before about the setup of these ads: “What Dry Was” has images like dusty construction workers, a policeman in a small southwestern town during a dust storm, and a tumbleweed blowing across the desert, while “What Dry Is” has spurting water, a kayak in the ocean, and a guy soaking his hair before whipping it back and forth. What makes it work is the soundtrack backing up the announcer: a single drummer, pounding out a relentless beat, faster and faster.
For the eleventh time, the commercial for The January Man, chockablock with artifacts of a New York City that doesn’t quite exist anymore, including outdated police cars and Kevin Kline’s mustache.
A spot for the Willow VHS tape, with swordsmen, fantasy armies, and little people. It all lasts as long as it takes for the announcer to say, “Heroes come in all sizes, but adventure doesn’t come any bigger than this. Willow. Available now on videocassette.”
Again, the first ad ever for the Energizer Bunny. Since the soundtrack comes from battery-powered rabbits playing the drums, this marks the second percussion-heavy ad in this commercial break.
Then we get the omnipresent cable-company spots for the WWF Royal Rumble (logo presented against a purple background to give it that regal feeling) and “Season’s Greetings from the Staff at UA-Columbia.”
For the MTV bumper, a cartoon red car lurches its way down a city street while a woman sings “get on up” and a DJ scratches. Letters in the left margin spell out “MORN,” then “NOON,” then “NITE.” It’s a prime example of the “random animation sliced up to a hip-hop beat” genre that the MTV promo department liked–much more than the programming department liked actual hip-hop videos.