TV CAR advertisements have come a long way since the halcyon days of the 1960s and ‘70s, when almost nothing was off-limits.
The blatant sexism, gender stereotyping and political incorrectness featured in a raft of infamous ads from the past are part of the Australian cultural lexicon.
In those heady days, inappropriate humour was more likely to have produced a wink and a suggestive smile than a complaint to the Advertising Standards Board.
Leading the charge was Ford’s “size it up” campaign, which graced Australian screens in the early 1970s with the line: “You’ve still got an eye for a good figure – even if it is your wife’s.”
On cue, good old wifey trots outdoors in a skimpy bikini carrying a tray bursting with overflowing glasses of beer. Thoughtful and a good sort. Just lucky that bloke wasn’t checking out what the other models looked like!
Or there was the extra cheese, cheap laughs and relentless sexual references of Chrysler’s “Hey Charger” Campaign.
One ad sees actor Graeme Blundell, whose character Alvin Purple is a waterbed salesman and irresistible to women, ask a group of women at a bus stop: “Would anyone like a lift?”
Naturally, as he nervously grabs the keys to his Charger from his pocket, the women fall over each other to jump in first as we hear the voice-over man announce: “Charger isn’t expensive. But that’s not the only attraction.”
Can I have corn with that cheese please!
What about the iconic Aussie “football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars” commercial that caught the imagination of our nation? A brilliant piece of Aussie creativity, right?
Sorry to burst your bubble, but the concept was a straight steal from the General Motors campaign hatched in the United States, where the jingle went: “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.”
Aussie car ads are not alone when it comes to stretching the boundaries of humour. And not all of the most eyebrow raising examples are confined to the annals of history.
In a recent Renault ad, a goofy-looking man gets stuck to his frozen car in an uncomfortable position as he tries to unlock the door with his key. No dialogue is necessary as another man approaches the car parked right next to his and opens the door without even putting his hand in his pocket.
In complete silence, the following words pop up and close off the ad: “HANDS-FREE CARD OPENS AND STARTS WITHOUT A KEY”
But words don’t do justice to an American ad for Honda Accord that finishes with the voice-over: “Isn’t it nice, when things just work.”
You have to see it to believe it . . .