October 26, 2016

Got a headache?

On Saturday we learned about a school of thought that held that in order to be effective, commercials also had to be offensive. We also read that the most obnoxious commercials tended to be those that hawked pain medication - "like the one for a headache tablet that had hammers banging in the brain," said one expert.

It's likely that the expert in question, ad agency executive (and putative Mad Man) Robert Robb, had the following commercial in mind when making his comment.


Now, lest you think people exaggerate when they talk about how irritating viewers found these commercials, one need look no further than Allan Sherman, the Weird Al of his time, who, my wife reminded me, penned this immortal classic, "Headaches," to the tune of "Heartaches." Enjoy!

5 comments:

  1. It shows the hammer in the brain but you don't actually hear the impact. In one of today's commercials that hammer would be clanging like the Anvil Chorus, while the announcer tries to scream over the din. Viewers back then didn't know how good they had it.

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    1. How right you are - I hadn't considered it that way! Do you think many of today's commercials will wind up on some DVD collection in the future? A few, but I doubt they'll be remembered fondly by future generations.

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    2. Certainly not the prescription drug ads, which make my skin crawl. But even in the more traditional product categories they seem to share a desperation for attention that I find pathetic, as they race to capture a viewer's attention by the loudest and most obnoxious means necessary.

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    3. I noticed I didn't mind the Anacin commercial that much because it didn't include the sound of hammers.

      Sherman's song included a much-parodied line from another Anacin commercial, "Mother, I'd rather do it myself!". This line was even worked into an early BEWITCHED episode, with Endora mentioning aspirin after Sam says it. I can't find an unedited version of the commercial on YouTube, but it has to be there somewhere.

      I did find this interesting analysis about how advertising took over the cultural influence that religion used to have in the 19th century during the 20th century:

      http://www.adbuzz.com/ch1res_anacin.html

      You may find this article worthy of another column, Mitchell. :)

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  2. This Anacin commercial is a hoot and I remember it well. I think the husband needs more help than Anacin can provide.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtpuEDqFdmA

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And now for something completely different.