Tuesday, January 30, 2007

great moments in 1980s television advertising




It's a body-shakin', "man!"-overloaded, horrifyingly stereotypical ad for all those songs that radio programmers never let flower children, or their descendants, forget!

That, or a record executive's fingers were itchy from deciding how to repackage White Rabbit and A Horse With No Name that week.

As the 1980s drew to a close, it was hard to ignore the constant reminders of what happened in popular culture 20 years earlier. The emergence of classic rock radio stations, TV retrospectives on the summer of '67, the return of hippie imagery, etc. The wheels in the heads of executives at companies specializing in albums sold on television began spun, hoping to capitalize on boomers entering their forties. Cue one late 60s/early 70s after another, many similar, most available as four records or three cassettes.

In the race for the cheesiest ad, Freedom Rock stood above the rest. Watch and believe! Soak up the authentic acid-drenched dialogue delivered by ultra-convincing hippies!

This ad left impressions that lingered on for years. Anytime something stereotypically hippie came to our attention, it was a safe bet my sister or somebody at school would ask "is that Freedom Rock? TURN IT UP!"

Seeing this for the first time in years, what strikes me, beyond the bad acting, is that the album was available on the newly-emerging compact disc. TV albums were still available on 8-track at the time, a format which would have better suited the pitchman's van.

Unless 8-track sales were reserved for the likes of Red Sovine...



No question, this was my father's least-favourite TV record ad, though Max Bygraves was a close second. The mere mention of the name "Red Sovine" was enough to induce groaning, disproving the ad's claim that everyone loved Red. I'm just miffed they don't play a clip of the ultra-maudlin Little Rosa. - JB

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