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Advert memories from 1997

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  • Advert memories from 1997

    Seeing as you most of you enjoyed my Advert Memories from 1992 thread, I have decided to do another one of these by going forwards five years in time to 1997 - the year that I lost my father, sadly; the Queen had lost a former daughter-in-law in a car crash; and John Major had lost the General Election. However, what we didn't lose that year was the Eurovision Song Contest thanks to Katrina and the Waves.

    A lot of the adverts are not as classic as they were five years previously, but looking around, I have made the following choices:

    1) WHISKAS (Teach Me Tiger) - A relatively unknown song ( that never gets played on the radio) was used in a Whiskas advert in around June and July of 1997 - it was April Stevens' early 1960s hit Teach Me Tiger (Stevens' birthday was also in April, hence her name we assume). A white "Arthur"-alike (female?) cat could be seen seductively walking from inside a theatre curtain on a stage in time to the music. We only heard 30 seconds of the song, but it did whet my appetite to want to hear a lot more of it, although 1997 was still pre-YouTube territory back then. Sometimes the advert was in two parts and the second part of ten seconds played at the end of the break, which was the start of the trend of some adverts back then.

    2) TESCO - Around the start of its ironic "Every Little Helps" and Clubcard era of the mid 1990s, we had Prunella Scales and Jane Horrocks as mother and daughter exploring the benefits of shopping there courtesy of the aforementioned Clubcard and other offers - "Mother" almost looks like Agnes Brown to be honest. I am referring to the series of adverts around this time and not specifically one advert as such. One advert that springs to mind is Scales on the bus next to another Tesco customer, noticing the receipt just inside her carrier bag, and making comments about how much she has saved as a result of shopping at Tesco. Another one was where she gatecrashed her daughter's anti-natal clinic: "it's like a walk in the Peak District", she said, hobbling over the women doing exercises on the floor.

    3) WALKERS CRISPS - Gary Lineker was in full flow in these series of adverts by 1997, but the advert I am referring to is one where the Spice Girls make a cameo (Geri Halliwell included), and the advert ends with the tagline "No More Mr Spice Guy", a pun on "No More Mr Nice Guy" that Lineker had patented himself for his advertising of the crisps. Of course, the Spice Girls advertised almost everything back then including Pepsi, and I think even Asda as well.

    4) CHANEL NO. 5 - Quite an ordinary advert for a perfume, although it had a claim to fame, probably because of its near namesake - it was the first advert to be screened on the brand new Channel 5.

    5) TETLEY TEA BAGS (Reach out I'll Be There) - Sadly we lost Gaffer's voiceover Brian Glover in 1997 which meant that his voice would change an octave or three thanks to Bobby Knutt taking over the duties. However, Glover might have retired from the doing the cartoon voiceovers by then anyway, as the advert I am focussing on was one where no characters speak and we only hear the Four Tops' Reach Out I'll Be There while we see a Tea Folk character melancholily returning home after his team loses at football and makes himself a cup of Tetley. Advert ends: "that's better - that's Tetley". One which had Bill Withers' Lovely Day in the advert featured in that series probably the year before.

    6) KELLOGG'S CORN FLAKES (Gospel singing) - Cue a lot of Gospel singers blurting out "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" at high volume (so make sure that you had turned your TV set down when it was on), while having a bowl of Corn Flakes. It also made an appearance as part of a retrospective Kellogg's Corn Flakes advert in the very first advert break on Channel 5.

    7) FELIX CAT FOOD - The monochrome adverts featuring the black and white cat of the same name waiting for his even meal in a bowl, mostly to the tune of Joplin's The Entertainer (The Sting). They were newspaper adverts originally but converted to television after a while. Cats like Felix like Felix like Felix like...

    8) FLORA MARGARINE - Not "I don't believe it's not butter!" Richard "Victor Meldrew" Wilson was still taking part in the adverts, reminding us that people think all fats are bad - rubbish! I don't think that Wilson was actually in character as Meldrew, but it wasn't far off. "I grew up on a council estate in Greenock", vouched Wilson. This was around the time when the London Marathon was sponsored by Flora because of its low cholesterol levels it had in its margarine.

    9) CHURCHILL STARLIFTS - Daytime territory this one, and so therefore any Countdown viewers would have seen it at the time. Dame Thora Hird appeared in the adverts, vouching that "none of us are getting any younger". She tries the "ride" for size, going up the stairs as fast as she can. No wonder bungalows are the best option for our retired early population. This piece of cliché bound advertising also reminded me of Frank Windsor's long association with the Sun Life over 50 plan which he couldn't do anymore as soon as he reached the age of 80.

    10) DAZ AUTOMATIC - Shane Ritchie seemed to be gatecrashing various housewives and mothers during the day, and they coincidently use Daz to use with their daily washing against the dozens of other washing powders on the market. Ritchie joined those other C-list celebrities who also advertised the powder such as Danny Baker, Julian Clary and Michael Barrymore.

    11) ANCHOR BUTTER - The advert which sees a calf hatching from an egg to tune of "Born Free", in which some viewers had contacted the ITC at the time complaining that it would mislead children, although the regulator did not uphold the complaints saying that any such thing would be short-lived, and therefore any zoology studying that they would do when they were older would not be affected.

    12) ROBINSONS APPLE JUICE (Who killed Bob Holness?) - Only a year after he retired from hosting Blockbusters for the last time, Bob Holness appeared in a more or less forgotten advert for Robinsons Apple Juice (although other flavours were probably represented as well in these series of adverts). Around 15 years before Holness passed away for real, he was seen on a chair in a garden, while a Cluedo-type thing was going on. Cue a detective in a beige trenchcoat drink apple juice, a woman lifting her dress to reveal that she is wearing stockings, etc. Holness was alive and well at that point as he was to host Call My Bluff on the other side.

    Other adverts going strong was I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, still using those human-alike cows in the adverts, while Kotex had the "cutting eyeholes out of brown paper" in order to advertise its "keeps you dry once a month" pads. Royal Mail's "what would you send?" campaign with some unidentifiable piece of 1950s music and a handwritten: "I saw this..." "...and thought of you", with some implausible items trying to be sent in the post. M&Ms had the red and yellow characters in a bowling alley accompanied by none other than Mr Bean who used one of the characters in lieu of a bowling ball - two years after his final sitcom ended, Bean was still hot property with a film being released in the same year. Persil Liquid oversaw a garage mechanic from a nearby bus shelter, wiping his hands on his brightly-coloured trousers as he couldn't quite reach the oil cloth to wipe his hands with. And Joe Pasquale could be heard voicing Milky Way Magic Stars.

    I suppose that most TV viewers was watching the BBC because of the General Election and the Diana coverage, but doing my YouTube research just now, it was fascinating to see which ones that I remember from over 20 years ago and which ones that I don't. It was a memorable year for me as well. Do you remember any of those adverts, by any chance?
    I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
    There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
    I'm having so much fun
    My lucky number's one
    Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

  • #2
    Re: Advert memories from 1997

    I love your recaps. my man!

    1997 was a grand year. I was in my second year at university. Britpop and girl power were everywhere. Lara Croft was becoming the face of a new generation. I had recently blown a chunk of my student loan on a PlayStation. Tony Blair came in as the fresh new face of Britsh politics (before becoming a second-rate Thatcher and war criminal). We got The Fifth Element, L.A. Confidential, Titanic, Staship Troopers...and Batman and Robin.

    But, we're here for the adverts. As a student back then, I had a lot of time for sitting in front of the television. Here are some of my highlights...

    SNICKERS - injured American football player sustains serious head trauma and becomes convinced that he is Batman. The final moment of him laying his hand on the knee of another player and asking 'Would you like to ride with Batman?' became an obsessive in joke with me and my friends for weeks.

    ZANUSSI - playing very much on the mania for The X-Files, the Zanussi advert I remember had a Geordie trucker being interviewed about a UFO experience, which happened instead to be a Zanussi dishwasher. Playing up the 'appliance of science' tagline the had. Bonus points for the advert having the trucker in a greasy cafe, with a huge plate of bangers and mash.

    CADBURY'S TIME OUT - terrifying claymation advert. A group of deformed and badly animate teachers are dismayed at an empty biscuit tin in the staff room (as opposed to education conditions and the other stresses teachers have to face). Luckily, out of the clock on the wall bursts and equally sinister motown trio, singing a catchy number about the Time Out. Staff room then transforms to an elaborate musical stage. Because chocolate bars can do that, evidently. As the advert tells us: 'Put a flake in your break'. Otherwise the creepy motown trio will haunt you for the rest of your days. Time Out was nice, but it was no Drifter.

    SEAFRANCE - this is one I doubt they would get away with today. The whole advert was a comedy French Napoleon figure, with a ridiculous moustache, sat in a bath. With a preposterously exaggerated French accent, he told us about all of the virtues of the Seafrance ferries. Whilst jarring accordion music played in the background, as France only has one instrument to represent it. To really finish it off, the accented Napoleon tries to make 'difference' rhyme with 'Seafrance'. He fails. I thought we had left these kind of cultural stereotypes back with Mind Your Language, but I was wrong.

    BRITISH ARMY - the UK army had some really thoughtful adverts at this time, emphasising the more mental nature of their operations. The one I remember was almost silent and in black and white. The text said that you had found the enemy, which weapon would you use...mortars, tanks, assualt rifles...or the night. I had no desire to join the armed forces, but it was a clever and striking advert that I think were actually quite effective. 'Army soldier - be the best' the end of the advert told me. I am quite happy with mediocrity.

    MAGNUM - the late '90s saw the rise of gourmet ice creams here in the UK, and the Magnum was ready to cash in on it. The advert was a sly riff on the first Mission Impossible film, from the previous year. This time, it was not deranged scientologist making a break in, but a svelte and beautiful woman. She lowered herself on a hoist to steal a priceless gold coin and was then tempted to put it into the vending machine and buy a Magnum with it instead. Which is flagrantly stupid as vending machines have a hard time with regular coins, let alone misshaped dubloons. As karma for her greed, a piece of chocolate falls from the Magnum and sets the alarm off.

    FAIRY LIQUID - remembered by me for the annoying kid who was building a model rocket and needed his mum's Fairy Liquid bottle to complete the nose section. The whining kid was frustrated as Fairy lasted so long. No sign of dad helping with the washing up, just mum doing it by herself.

    REMEMBER: cream first, jam second...



    • #3
      Re: Advert memories from 1997

      I know that Cadbury's Time Out was being advertised in 1992-1993 as our detention room at school was called Time Out where pupils were sent there to take "Time Out" from lessons - many kids made jokes about it because of the chocolate bar, although I thought that by 1997 the advertising would have a bit of a low profile.

      Zanussi seemed to also have a low profile by as they often relied on cross-promotion with washing powders such as Ariel Automatic - indeed some new washing machines used to include a pack of Ariel literally inside the machine.

      Fairy Liquid had an advert around Christmas 1997 where a young girl was supposedly watching Blue Peter (a parody of the Trace and Noakes era it seemed), and wanted to make either a rocket or a fairy (natch) for on top of the Christmas tree, but as the washing up liquid was lasting longer and longer, she had ti wait ages before it was empty and could be used for her project.
      I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
      There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
      I'm having so much fun
      My lucky number's one
      Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!