Being an age when I can remember TWW, the predecessor of Harlech, which became known as HTV, which was subsumed into the monochrome ITV network, I can remember decades of television advertising. Worse than remembering the ads, I can also remember the slogans and the jingles. Perhaps it is a measure of the success of the advertisement makers that their work is remembered five decades after it was aired.
When the same programme was being screened across the ITV network, it was the ads which could tell us whether we were watching HTV or Westward. Local businesses would have simple slots, often just an image with a voiceover, if it was an outlet in Plymouth, it was Westward; if it was in Bristol, it was HTV.
The local ads were generally instantly forgettable, those which linger in the memory are those which had a quirkiness about them.
In times when Corona was a fizzy drink that came in a bottle with a large capital C on the label, the drink was promoted by large bouncing cartoon bubble figures. But they are not nearly so memorable as the R. White’s Lemonade advertisement with its song, “I’m a secret lemonade drinker.” The song was written and performed by Ross McManus, and his son Declan, an unlikely start for young Declan’s recording career.
Chocolate companies seemed to spend a lot on advertising. Milk Tray would be delivered to the lady by a James Bond-like figure. Black Magic had a secret that no-one knew. Others were more prosaic in their claims. Treets would melt in your mouth, not in your hand, making them a wise choice for the cinema. Milky Way was the sweet you could eat between meals without ruining your appetite (my perception was that this was possible because they were so small). A Mars a day would help you work rest and play, although how it achieved these things was unclear. Then there was the strong and tough Milky Bar kid, who seemed a bit of a wimp.
Sweets were marketed heavily. Opal Fruits, went the jingle, “made to make your mouth water.” Polos were sold on the basis of having a hole in the middle. Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum made you look sophisticated, or so I thought.
Going to the Co-op, I never go through the door without reciting, in my head, “your sharing, caring Co-op” or “it’s all at the Co-op – Now!”
Perhaps the ads remain because there was only one commercial channel, because there were years of exposure to them. Perhaps they were made with big budgets for the time. Perhaps the memory lingers because everything then was something new.
I was singing along as I read. Did we really believe the claims at the time?
It’s strange how those jingles linger. Perhaps because we knew nothing else.
The most annoying one from the Seventies was the Shake and Vac song! But a businessman I used to know used to say that even if an advert annoyed you, it lodged a product in your mind.
After a few years living near Taunton, in 1973 my family moved to Plymouth, just up the road from the Wrigley’s factory. School friends, whose parents worked there, obtained a couple of the oversize gum ‘packs’ used in the adverts (These pretend ‘packs’ were actually inflatables). Much fun was had copying the ads when getting on the school bus!
Ha, ha! I used to think I was “cool” because I chewed Doublemint rather than Spearmint