Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dreck + Time = A Weird Kind Of Cool

This is a legendary Australian retail TV commercial, from 1974. I used it as a reference in my recent Manners for the Modern Brand presentation. I'd been looking for an example of loud obnoxious retail advertising from my early days in Australia - I recall long tedious summer nights of watching TV, the re-runs punctuated every five minutes with barrages of screaming hucksters, pushing everything from cars to swimming pools. One memorable series featured refrigerator salesman waving frozen chickens at the camera, yelling that with every fridge sold "Ya get a free chook!!!"

And who else remembers the early, magical days of Chyron supers, and the ability to flash large prices on and off in a strobing, rainbow-colored fashion?

Anyway, I thought it might be of interest to look at the history of the "Where do you get it" spot. It was written byJohn Singleton, apparently from concept to finish in one day. Here's a bit of background on Singleton:

"...Singleton opened his SPASM agency in 1968. His accounts were largely local Sydney retailers but Singo's understanding of his audience enabled him to reach out to the entire nation. Rather than using prim presenters, Singo celebrated the voice and image of the average bloke from western Sydney. One of his most successful advertisements was for David Holdings wholesalers. It simply outlined the retailer's prices before repeatedly chanting the catch-phrase 'Where do you get it?"

Though I intended the spot to be an illustration of the bad old days, I have some concessions to make:

One - the spot was enormously successful. Pinheads like me can moan all we want, but we can't argue with success.
Two - there's a clear limit to the idea of 'manners' within the clamor of free enterprise.
Three - after all these years, it has an oddly refreshing quality to it. I wonder if it would be more loved than hated today.
Four - therefore, it didn't make my point all that well. But I just had to share it. Thanks to my super secret contacts in Australia who uncovered a copy for me.

By the way, John Singleton is considered one of the most influential figures in Australian advertising and media. Whether you like his work or not, he's well worth reading up on. For example, there's a really good interview with him here, in which he talks about such supposedly avant garde concepts as creating your own products and marketing them, something his advertising agency did forty years ago.

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