Perhaps it’s part of the aging process, but every now and again I find myself returning to the classics. In music, it’s the Stones, the Who and Seger. In literature, it’s Hemingway, Fitzgerald, even John Irving. But for television commercials, it’s this minute and a half long beauty for a soda brand I’ve never tried that’s long since disappeared from grocers’ shelves in the UK: “St. George” for Blackcurrant Tango.
When this commercial debuted back in 1996, I was leading Budweiser’s US advertising. Our creative group sat in slack-jawed wonder, replaying it over and over after discovering it on an award show’s ¾” tape. The pitch-perfect jingoistic hysteria of the dialogue, the carefully-calibrated clumsiness masking the precision craftsmanship of its seemingly single-take, and the audacious journey of spokesman Ray Gardner from downtown Croydon out to the White Cliffs of Dover created a palpable envy in every one of our creative egos. This was hyperbole on the grandest scale, a magnificent accomplishment of deeply engrossing and engaging absurdity.
For some reason, after showering this morning, whole passages of this nearly fifteen year old commercial popped into my head and I regaled my extraordinarily patient wife with a clumsy synopsis until grabbing the laptop and finding it online.
So click on the link and enjoy a classic that stands the test of time. Thanks to the seemingly infinite server capacity of YouTube, the joy created by such fanciful, unrepentant silliness can live on for generations.
Even if the product couldn’t.