1988 Countdown: Commercial Break #13

(If you’re new to the countdown, you can click here to catch up.)


We kick off this commercial break with the spot for MTV’s “Big Bang ’89” broadcast that we’ve seen three times before. A lot of big hair among the featured acts: Poison, Winger, Daryl Hall, Escape Club, Vixen. But even at age 40, Robert Plant has the mightiest hair of all and his tresses lay waste to all pretenders.


Next up: the third airing of the Coca-Cola Classic commercial where the suburban parents go out for the evening, warning “no parties,” and come home to find their teenage daughters have thrown them a surprise anniversary party. Some period indicators in this ad: the haircuts, a VCR, teenagers using a landline telephone.


A new ad (woohoo!) for a Toyota pickup truck. The ad shows a big black truck going over sand dunes and other rough terrain, and notably lacks the “professional driver” screen disclaimer. The background music is icy synths: very Giorgio Moroder. The agency’s odd choice in voiceover artist is somebody raspy and vaguely British. At the end, we get a testimonial from a guy with a white sweater and a receding hairline; he looks like a low-rent John Tesh. “It’s everything I ever wanted,” he says, leaning against the hood of the truck. Then he jumps in the air, pumping his fist, and we see a freezeframe of him at the apex of his leap, because that’s what happened in Toyota ads in the ’80s. “Toyota Quality: Who Could Ask for Anything More?” the tag reads.


Again, a short spot for the videocassette of Willow. The fire-breathing dragon looks particularly fake.


Another variation of the “What Dry Is” series for Michelob Dry: we still see lots of crashing waves, but this time, instead of sexy girls, we get lingering shots of empty glass beer steins. “No Aftertaste,” the ad promises–was a nasty aftertaste supposed to be one of the problems with regular Michelob?


“Can one shampoo and conditioner give more body?” asks Victoria Principal, reclining on a couch in a sun-dappled room. Oh, I want to believe it can, Victoria, but I’ve been burned so many times before. Please, please, give me hope again. “When women with fine hair compared Jhirmack Nutri-Body to their regular brand, they preferred it by more than two to one for body and fullness.” Victoria touches her own hair, which suddenly looks like the platonic ideal of brunette, and smiles. (Improbably enough, this ad is available on YouTube; you can watch it here.)


We close out with an MTV spot hyping the videos they’re playing: we see short clips of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” (white suit!), Bon Jovi’s “Bad Medicine” (shaky cameras!), U2’s “Desire” (cowboy hat!), Guns N’ Roses “Welcome to the Jungle” (shock therapy!), INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart (moody cinematography!). “Your Favorite Music and More,” the ad concludes. We’ll be seeing all those videos later in the countdown, so I’ll reserve detailed commentary until then, but I will note one odd choice: while four out of five are late-1988 releases, the GN’R pick is from the very beginning of the year. Did the editor misplace his copy of “Paradise City”?

posted 10 June 2009 in 1988 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . 1 comment

One Comment Thus Far on 1988 Countdown: Commercial Break #13

  1. Chris M. Says:

    “Bad Medicine” was also a little out of date by 12/31/88, too — the followup, “Born to Be My Baby,” was already closing in on the Top 10 by then.

Leave a Reply

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