Belfast Telegraph

Nostalgic viewers rewind to golden age of TV ads

By Don Anderson

It's back-to-school week, but few streaming through the school gates care to reflect that once upon a time ads on television were a novelty for Northern Ireland.

Everyone knew the catchphrases and jingles and used them in common parlance.

Now children - and indeed their parents - have been brought up on television and belong to generations for whom TV ads were often an opportunity to go to the loo and/or put the kettle on.

But there's been an outbreak of TV advertising nostalgia on YouTube as perhaps people hark back to more simple times.

People have begun posting old UTV advertisements on the video channel, probably contravening some copyright, but who cares, because remarkably, they're attracting a new audience.

The late Gerry Anderson advertising Cawood's coal, for example, has been viewed more than 3,000 times. But over three times that number has viewed the 1992 Crazy Prices ad fronted by salesman Jim Megaw, who made himself a household name. The grocery discounters like Lidl are not a new idea.

Many will remember the Crazy Prices stores, which were the original no-frills chain in which I first saw cereals and sugar displayed on a pallet.

The ads are a reminder that Northern Ireland once had a unique retail structure, particularly in supermarkets.

Those aforementioned YouTube audience figures are dwarfed by those for the stunning anti-terror advertisements of the early '90s commissioned by the NIO. No fewer than 85,000 have viewed the Cat's in the Cradle production.

The mini-dramas, for that's what they were, almost didn't appear because they could have been construed as breaking a ban on political advertising. This ad used the 1974 Cat's in the Cradle folk/rock song by Harry Chapin. The quality and originality of these uniquely Northern Ireland television ads have been acknowledged internationally.

No doubt on YouTube some have been viewing these advertisements for the first time.

As we endure yet another political storm here's hoping 10 times more new eyes see Cat's in the Cradle.

Lest we forget.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph