It would have been much cooler if I wrote this blog post in 2010 for the whole “decade” effect but alas…I just thought of this blog post today.
This post will either make you feel really old (if you’re in that baby boomer generation – news flash: you ARE old! Just kidding, Mom and Dad) or very nostalgic (if you have fond memories of watching that incredible Nickelodeon line up of Rugrats, Doug, Salute your Shorts and Clarissa Explains it All while eating Captain Crunch in your footie pajamas). But hey, nostalgia is always fun!
As a proud member of the Spice Girls, Doc Martens, glitter eyeshadow era, today I reminisced on all of the things I used to love back in the 1990s. It should come as no surprise if you read my last post that one of the things I loved about the 1990s was advertising. I wasn’t lying when I said I used to memorize jingles as a child. While most kids my age were enjoying the great outdoors, I would sit in my living room surrounded by my larger than life beanie baby collection (I SERIOUSLY thought those would be worth a fortune someday…This is why I don’t buy stocks) and I would recite commercials. Out of adoration and pure love of the 1990s, here is my ode to the best advertising of the good ol’ days (or at least the commercials I remember most from my childhood).
1. Sears Air Conditioning
Ahh, the Sears air-conditioning commercial. Although most people would probably put this in the category of “worst commercial ever”, I have some very fond memories of sitting in the back seat of my suburban with my best friend Kara on our way to soccer practice as we each dramatically acted out this scene. I always got to be the sweaty woman who “CAN’T STAND ANOTHER DAY WITHOUT AIRCONDITIONING!”. How could you not love a commercial with lines like:
“Says tomorrow’s gonna be hotter.
Yesterday you said you’d call Sears!
I’ll call today!
No, you’ll call now!
I’ll call now!”
“So, what’s the paper say about tomorrow?
Now THAT is some quality copywriting*! Regardless of the cheesiness factor, I must say that I STILL to this day can recite those lines word for word. Successful advertising? You tell me.
2. Budweiser – Wazzaaaap
Admit it, you answered your landline phone like this for the entire year of 1999.
3. Taco Bell – Yo Quiero Taco Bell
I wanted a chihuahua very badly after this commercial. Later, I met a chihuahua for the first time and it bit my hand. Long story short, I should have approached the chihuahua with tacos. (Sidenote: chihuahua may be one of the most fun words to say).
4. Budweiser – Frogs
I used to have a mug that would play the sounds of these frogs when you tilted it. I miss that mug…
5. Daisy Sour Cream – Dollop
This is the sour cream ad that I referred to in my earlier post. I used to drive my parents crazy by singing this repeatedly while I put sour cream on my baked potatoes. This commercial is also the only reason why I even know what a “dollop” is. (sidenote: dollop is also a very fun word to say).
Don’t worry folks – this post has some educational value. From a more scholarly aspect, the changes that happened in ten years (eleven years…but ten sounds better) fascinate me. When I look back on these commercials, I can’t believe that they were successful. Aside from the obvious production advancements since these commercials first aired, one thing that stands out most to me is the cultural implications.
The “wazzap” commercial started an entire phenomenon. You couldn’t walk five steps on the playground without someone screaming “WAZZZAAAAAAAAAAAP” in your face. The Taco Bell ad has some subtle racism and stereotype generalizations that probably would not be accepted today, but at the time it was a huge hit. Don’t get me started on the Daisy and Sears ads — apparently the 90s were a big blur of straight sappiness. However, even though they were lame, I still could sing you the jingle or recite my lines flawlessly.
For me, these advertisements make me wonder. How will I look at advertising in the next ten years? To an outsider who watches these commercials, it would appear that the 90s were a carefree time of corny sensationalism, Boy Bands, and light-up shoes. How will the next generation of advertising shape our culture?
For creative strategists, we need to think about this. Do we really want to look back and have nothing to show but jingles and weird catchphrases? Or do we want to do something meaningful to shape the world?