Tuesday, 8 November 2016

1980s television adverts

A look back this week at some television adverts featuring some sporting stars of the 1980s. Including a lot of milk, Ian Botham and Daley Thompson demonstrating their all-round manliness, and an insight into the eating habits of Frank Bruno and Steve Davis.

Milk Has Gotta Lotta Bottle

There were points in the 1980s where milk appeared to be everywhere, like Public Information Films or Timmy Mallet, but hopefully not as damaging to the senses. From giant milk bottles on football pitches before Milk Cup matches, to players drinking it after FA Cup finals, and a famous advert that will be discussed later, we seemingly couldn't get enough of the opaque white fluid. Take that Maggie Thatcher!

One method used by the Milk Marketing Board to ensure that we never, EVER forgot about their product, was this marvellous advert featuring 1980s sports stars Steve Davis, Alex Higgins, Eric Bristow, John Lowe, and Jonjo O'Neill.

Well, I say marvellous, but my wife may disagree, as Craig Johnston once stated. After watching this advert a few times for research purposes, the patience of those around you can wear thin if you walk into a room and sing "Milk has gotta lotta bottle" repeatedly. Especially after the 21st occasion.

So you have been warned. Watch the YouTube clip from the snooker hall to the milk bottle surrounded with psychedelic lighting, and see if you can resist the temptation of singing "Nice cold, ice cold milk" to your loved ones. Over and over and over again....

Ian Botham: Shredded Wheat 

"Shredded Wheat. Bet you can't eat three". An undoubtedly clever advertising campaign - a memorable slogan, encouraging consumers to take part in their very own eating contest - this cereal needed a big name to promote the brand, and in the 1980s they didn't come much bigger than Ian Terrence Botham.

The scene is set: Mike from the Young Ones is now working in a hotel, and informs the rest of the staff that some lunatic in room 146 has ordered three Shredded Wheat. Cue dramatic music and astonished looks from all and sundry, as a kind lady walks towards the room in question.

Curiouser and curiouser, the hotel employee edges towards the table, until she puts the tray down, gets an old-fashioned "thanks love", and realises who she is dealing with. Ian Botham, for some reason settling down for breakfast in his MCC jumper, is the British lion who is attempting THREE Shredded Wheat.

He might have had an Ashes series named after him, walked from John O'Groats to Land's End, and overtaken Dennis Lillee as the leading wicket taker in Test match cricket, but according to the advert, not even Beefy could manage three Shredded Wheat in the 1980s. Slipping the unwanted extra underneath a napkin, Beefy chucks us a wink, acknowledging that in truth he was trying to keep up appearances, whilst Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks and Geoff Capes are sat at home waiting for their phones to ring.

Daley Thompson: Lucozade

I really tried to like Lucozade, but to this day it is still a drink I cannot stomach. Because, in my eyes, if Daley Thompson was gluggling this strange orange drink, then I wanted in. The double Olympic champion had indirectly already caused the destruction of two of my joysticks, as I attempted to break world records on my Spectrum 48K whilst playing Daley Thompson's Decathlon, but as I sat sipping Lucozade in my front room, I knew that my love for Daley could only go so far.

Thompson's involvement with Lucozade from 1985 onwards was a marketing marriage made in heaven. With the product slogan changing from "Lucozade aids recovery" to "Lucozade replaces lost energy", who better to demonstrate the benefits of the drink. The public certainly bought into it, with sales increasing by 40% within the first year of the new campaign. No wonder Gareth Keenan viewed Daley as his ideal companion on a desert island.

It did help that the advert was a belter. We see Daley training in hot climes, traffic lights on red as he wipes sweat from his face. The lights flick to amber and Daley starts a very early version of the bottle flip. Then Iron Maiden's Phantom of the Opera really kicks in as the lights turn to green and Daley explodes from the blocks.

To top it all, the unmistakable voice of Des Lynam concludes the advert, informing us that Lucozade is a refreshing glucose drink. After a classic Thompson/Iron Maiden/Lynam cocktail, it's not hard to spot why this campaign was such a success. 

Frank Bruno: HP Sauce

It's hardly surprising that Frank Bruno makes an appearance in this list, after all, he emerged as a hugely popular sporting figure in this decade. He may have seemed like such a chirpy chap in post-fight interviews with Harry Carpenter, but little did we know that Frank could be quite so tetchy if his meat, chips and veg was not served to his liking.

This advert for HP Sauce sees our Frank sitting down for a meal in an apparently soulless venue, yet soon our attentions are soon drawn to the fact that Bruno is far from happy. "Frankly, I'm not HP," declares Bruno, after punching the table petulantly and sending his food upwards. It might not have been wise to get on the wrong side of Frank Bruno, but at least his food landed safely on the plate to save any further aggro.

Luckily there is a bottle of HP Sauce available to sort the messy situation out, although some buffoon almost brings us back to square one by later trying to steal Bruno's bottle. Thankfully, Frank shows his satisfaction by merrily whistling Happy Days are Here Again, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Frankly we were well HP after this rather tense episode.

Steve Davis: Heinz Baked Beans

"Millions of Britons have grown up great, knowing Beanz Meanz Heinz," if Ted Lowe is to be believed in relation to the second advert in this blog to feature Steve Davis. The story starts with what is supposed to be a young Davis settling down intently at his dining room table, waiting patiently for his beans on toast, as he stares thoughtfully at some fruit. As the food arrives, his mum looks on, both with concern and confusion, wondering what her little boy is up to.

The advert moves through another couple of phases of Davis' lifetime, until we see the World Snooker Champion in fully grown form, still looking at fruit in exactly the same position on the table as before. Fortunately, the Davis family have had the foresight to replace the apples and satsumas on a regular basis, otherwise there would have been a horrid mess on the green table cloth as Davis developed from boy to man.

"Really interesting," Lowe says, after Ma Davis cleans a salt cellar with a cloth, presumably to prevent Davis getting a kick when applying his salt. This is of course a reference to the fact that Davis was portrayed as some kind of robot during his heyday, but at least he had enough character for the good people of Heinz to come knocking at Barry Hearn's door.

Milk: Accrington Stanley

Now, this is what I call a famous advert. Two boys, looking for some liquid refreshment after a kick about, raid the fridge. One boy wants lemonade, and is confused when his mate reaches for some milk. "Milk? Uugh," cries the lemonade quaffing lad off screen, before being informed that this tipple is in fact enjoyed by Ian Rush. "Yeah, an' he says if I don't drink lots of milk, when I grow up I'm only gonna be good enough to play for Accrington Stanley!"

And then comes the killer line: "Accrington Stanley? Who are they?" Five words, that according to David 'Bumble' Lloyd made £10,000 for the club that had dropped out of the Football League in 1962. An advert that put the club back on the football map, and saw the star of the commercial, Carl Rice, invited as the guest of honour to Accrington's promotion party on the final day of the 2005/06 season.

Rice later revealed that originally the club to be mocked would be Tottenham Hotspur, but maybe not surprisingly they objected. As an Arsenal fan, I'm both amused and annoyed by this news, yet if I'm being honest, I don't think the advert would have worked quite so well if it was a big club that had been the subject of Ian Rush's harsh criticism.

Honourable mentions

I came across a few other adverts that featured sports stars from my childhood, but some of these were not aired during the 1980s. It would be remiss of me not to reference these, though, and if any others have slipped through the net, then feel free to let me know in the comments section.

Lawrie McMenemy promoting Barbican, an alcohol-free lager, which may have been great, man, but certainly hadn't been consumed by McMenemy on the day he was arrested for drink driving; the famous Brut adverts featuring Henry Cooper, Kevin Keegan and Barry Sheene; Pat Jennings dressed as an oil filter whilst promoting Unilever products; John Barnes reaching for a bottle of Lucozade Sport "after ninety minutes of sheer hell".

Saint and Greavsie in the R.Whites Lemonade advert; Brian Clough ticking off Peter Shilton for eating three Shredded Wheat; Gareth Southgate and that Pizza Hut advert.

And many more, I am sure.

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