1988 Countdown: Commercial Break #10


We see the “Big Bang ’89” promo for the third time, with close-ups on explosions and spinning clocks building up excitement for the fact that 1989 will start in only a few hours, a transition that can be enjoyed in the company of Robert Plant, Poison, Winger, Cameo, Hall and Oates, the Escape Club, Bobby Brown, Vixen, Sam Kinison, and Sandra Bernhard. It’s a little jarring to see both Plant and Bret Michaels looking unhaggard. (By the way, I saw the first ten minutes of Rock of Love: Charm School this week before screaming “What am I doing with my life?” and fleeing the room. But I did have the small epiphany that at this point, Sharon Osbourne is more famous than Bret Michaels.) The background music for most of the ad is the riff from Brown’s “My Prerogative,” which sounds really good.


A repeat of a Coca-Cola ad: the parents go out for the evening, admonishing “no parties,” but return to find a bacchanal in full swing, fueled by caffeinated beverages: their daughters have thrown them a surprise anniversary party. This is actually a “Coca-Cola Classic” ad; the New Coke debacle was in 1985, and I was a little surprised to realize the “Classic” brand was still around in 1988. I just went online trying to figure out when they dropped “Classic” and deemed it to be regular Coke again. (1992, it turns out, when the new formula became Coke II–much later than I expected. I haven’t seen a Coke II in a long time, but apparently it was never officially discontinued and is still popular in Samoa.) I also discovered other Coke variations: you can currently buy a Coca-Cola Orange in England, and for a brief time, New Zealanders could enjoy a Coca-Cola Raspberry.

Another Rain Man spot (this one, not this one), where a montage of clips receive a soundtrack of “Iko Iko” and a voiceover. “Newsweek magazine calls Rain Man the best acting of Tom Cruise’s career.” (Apparently, they weren’t paying attention to his marriage to Mimi Rogers.) “People magazine says it’s the acting triumph of the year by Dustin Hoffman. And Rex Reed of At the Movies calls it one of the most entrancing films of the year. Dustin Hoffman. Tom Cruise. Rain Man. Rated R. Now playing at a theater near you.”


The WWF’s Royal Rumble ad plays again. “Don’t get shut out, order now,” says the announcer, as if there were a finite number of pay-per-view packages to go around.

Ad from the local cable provider: “Season’s Greetings from the Staff at UA-Columbia.” Much like before; a different set of employees sit at their desks and wave for the camera.


We finish our commercial break with an MTV promo. Gray screen, with a small white S and a large black cross. We hear an operatic soprano. Bang, bang, bang: we hear aggressive channel-flipping, and the soundtrack keeps changing along with the symbols: a dollar sign, a smiley face, a skull, the anarchy sign, the square root of 3. Then a title card reading “ONE SIGN / UN SIGNE / UNA SENA” plus kanji or hanzi that I assume translate as the same thing (but that I hope actually mean “Screw you, Coke-swilling Westerners”). “ONE TIME” follows (with translations), and then “ONE VISION” (etc.), capped off by the MTV logo. It’s supposed to be well-intentioned tolerant pap, I think, but it feels like a declaration of war: the whole world belongs to MTV.

posted 16 October 2008 in 1988 and tagged , , , , , , . 1 comment

One Comment Thus Far on 1988 Countdown: Commercial Break #10

  1. Chris M. Says:

    “Newsweek magazine calls Rain Man the best acting of Tom Cruise’s career.” (Apparently, they weren’t paying attention to his marriage to Mimi Rogers.)

    Oh, SNAP!

Leave a Reply

Keep up to date with new comments on this post via RSS.