1988 Countdown: Commercial Break #12

If you’re new to the countdown: I’m plowing my way through actual videotapes of MTV’s year-end countdown broadcast on 12/31/1988. If you want to catch up from the beginning, you should probably start here.


On a plate, there’s a piece of white bread in the shape of an M. It’s soon covered with a dollop of mustard, two tomatoes, a slice of olive loaf (also in the shape of an M), a piece of lettuce, and another piece of M bread. Then a T and a V are attached to the sandwich with toothpicks, and a pickle placed underneath it bears the “music television” slogan.


For the sixth time on the countdown, we get a minute-long ad for The January Man. I saw the excellent Atlantic City earlier this week, so I’m naturally focused on Susan Sarandon this time around. She was in the prime of her career when TJM was released–how many 42-year-old actresses can say that? Unfortunately, her character here seems unpleasant and is saddled with a bad, squarish haircut. Oh well–I don’t think this movie was a career highlight for anyone involved.


Energizer Bunny ad. In fact, this appears to be the very first Energizer Bunny spot, before the rabbit went viral and started invading various fake ads (I still fondly remember a commercial for a fake art-house film, Dance with Your Feet). There’s an array of stuffed rabbits playing toy drums. “Have you ever seen those commercials where one battery outlasts the rest?” asks the announcer, as most of the rabbits run out of steam. “We’d just like you to know Energizer batteries were never invited to their playoffs.” The stuffed rabbit’s eyes widen at the arrival of the Energizer Bunny, who is “cool” in much the way that Spuds McKenzie or Poochie was: big drum, neon pink fur, blue sandals sunglasses. (I suppose he was an upgrade on the previous Energizer spokesbeing, the loud Australian called Jacko.) “A word to the wise: energize,” concludes the announcer. Incidentally, some sources (including Wikipedia, at this writing), say the Energizer Bunny debuted in 1989; that is clearly incorrect, given this 1988 broadcast, although more flattering to ad agency Chiat-Day, who turned this one-shot commercial by DDB Needham into a long-running campaign.


Next up: an ad for the video release of the prototypical Coreys film, License to Drive. Haim and Feldman were both 17 when this ad aired, but they look approximately 11 in this ad. It’s just a fifteen-second spot, so there’s a rush of images while Billy Ocean plays on the soundtrack: various people hanging onto moving vehicles, Feldman in an ugly white jacket, a drunk girl in a pink dress who might be Heather Graham, a car spinning through a Shakey’s parking lot.


For the third time, we see the promo for the WWF Royal Rumble. Happily, there are no stapleguns in sight.

And once more, we receive season’s greetings from the staff at UA-Columbia, this time with jauntier music accompanying the images of cable-company employees.


We conclude with another MTV promo, this one done in a zippy 1950s style. “What would you pay for a product so simple?” asks an announcer talking at triple speed. “It slices, it dices, it juliennes.” We see images of happy housewives, clean-shaven scientists, and nuclear families. A list of songs scrolls down: “Mazing Grace,” “Concerto in M Minor,” “I Want to Hold Your M.” “Your favorite music at home!” says the announcer as his voice becomes garbled and advertising decals cover the screen.

posted 11 February 2009 in 1988 and tagged , , , , , , , . no comments yet

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