As I explained in a recent, similar post, I love commercials. There, I said it. Oh, that felt so liberating.
This latest bout of Pointless Ad Nostalgia comes courtesy of the episode of 120 Minutes from 1991 that contained a lengthy, uncomfortable interview with The Pixies. What’s different about these ads vis a vis the Steampipe Alley-era ads I just posted? Well, there’s the three years difference, a small eternity in ad-time.
More importantly, since these ads aired on MTV late at night, they’re pitched at a much older audience. A fashion-conscious audience that would be receptive to a commercial like this one for Cavaricci. That brand has all but disappeared, but when I was in junior high, everyone had to wear Cavaricci. If you had enough money to buy it, that is. If you were me, you wore generic jeans and whatever was on sale at Caldor’s that season.
Why was Cavaricci so popular? Why is anything so popular at any give time? But if this ad is to be believed, they made you very limber and a snazzy dancer.
This spot for Bugle Boy is either the most homophobic or most sneakily homoerotic ad ever. It starts with footage of hot chicks being naughty, with a crawl that says (not in so many words) “Hey, we didn’t wanna show you guys in this ad, ’cause that’s gay!” Then, at the very end of the ad, they hit the viewer with a bunch of hunky dudes in colored denim shorts and overalls.
1991 was smack in the middle of the sneaker technology wars. In the wake of the Reebok Pump, each sneaker manufacturer scrambled to find some way of jazzing up their kicks. For British Knights, it was DymaCell technology! Where the power of diamonds enabled you to, um…well, the never quite got around to explaining that.
Apparently MTV had its own line of clothing, which could only be purchased at J.C. Penny. Of course!
In 1991, the next generation of gaming systems were duking it out: Super Nintendo vs. Sega Genesis. In this commercial, Sega exposes the blind prejudice that caused far too many unsuspecting consumers to buy a Super Nintendo console. Yes, we’ve come a long way since then, but we have so much farther to go…
On the Nintendo side, there was the Dr. Mario game, which was a lot like Tetris (blatantly exactly like Tetris, actually), except full of deadly viruses. Perfect for kids who want to make their siblings violently ill.
I’m not exactly sure what challenge is being thrown down in this Pepsi/Nintendo ad, but it does feature a small child yelling at Bo Jackson (who was still kind of relevant at the time).
Perhaps you remember Smash T.V., a great arcade game that took some inspiration from Running Man and Robocop. Even if you do, it’s doubtful that you remember the Nintendo port of the game, because it was pretty bad. Almost as bad as the graphics on display in the commercial for said port.
So you think you’ve conquered every Mario game there is, huh? Well, it just so happens there’s a new Mario game, called Super Mario World. You haven’t beaten that one yet, have you? Yeah, that’s what I thought. You make me sick, you little punk.
Before Miracle Whip came along to liberate us all, Sprite was the chosen food product of rebels. It made you do crazy stuff, like mock your teacher behind his back, and knock over flower pots with a garden hose. THE REVOLUTION WILL BE CARBONATED!
1991 was also the height of the cassette era. CDs were still on the rise, records were dying and cassettes were the music medium of choice, thanks in large part to the Walkman. Therefore, this time also marked the height of blank tapes so you could listen to those records and CDs in the car, on the bus, etc. TDK wanted you to know that their brand of blank tape made your favorite album sound slightly less hissy than other brands.
“Led Zeppelin is back! Get this 2-CD set, which is really a truncated version of the 4-CD boxed set you can buy in stores. But hey, can that set offer exorbitant shipping and handling charges? I think not!”
We close with two anomalies I discovered on this tape. The first is supposed to be an ad for a pay per view special starring The Judds. That’s what you’ll see. But what you’ll hear is audio from a Sy Sperling Hair Club for Men ad. I swear on the holy book of your choice that this is exactly how it aired on the VHS tape I have, no overdubbing whatsoever. Very odd/fitting to hear men proclaim their triumph over baldness while The Judds rock out with some of stiffest, most unnatural hair ever.
The only thing odder than this AV oopsie is the fact that it happened again later on the same tape. In the second insatnce, the visuals came from another pay per view ad; in this case, one of the WWF’s 8000 annual summerslam/royal rumble/chair smashin’ festivals. But the audio comes from a subscription ad for Playboy. It makes for an odd juxtaposition, to say the least.