Probably the best Not So Perfect Ten in the world? We hope so.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, no television ad break was complete without a beer advert or two. We remember those heady days of Dambusters spoofs, the Guinness surfers or Melanie Sykes selling us The Cream of Manchester. Or the excellent Heineken adverts with Victor Borge.
As well as the above was a collection of forgotten classic beer advertisements. Some of which may have only been seen in a handful of ITV regions.
Our Not So Perfect Ten Forgotten Beer Adverts:
- Boddingtons: ‘That Gladys Althorpe…’ (1993);
- Carling Black Label: Get It Right (1981);
- Greenall Whitley: I Wish I Was In Greenall Whitley Land (1983);
- Moorhouses Pendle Witches Brew: Elf and Safety (2010);
- John Smith’s Bitter: A Tough Act To Follow (1981);
- Whitbread Trophy: He’s Only Happy When He’s Holding T’ Trophy (1980s);
- Ind Coope Double Diamond: I’m Only Here For The Beer (1975);
- Oranjeboom: It’s A Lager Not A Tune (1983);
- Lamot Pils: Seek Out The Lager of Lamot (1981);
- Younger’s Scotch Bitter: ‘There’s Nowt Clever About Walking’ (1983).
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1. Boddingtons: ‘That Gladys Althorpe…’ (1993)
Readers of a certain age may be familiar with the Walls Cornetto adverts of the early 1980s with O Sole Mio adapted to suit the premium priced ice cream. Instead of being set in Venice, Boddingtons’ parody was set in Manchester, with the mills taking over from its ornate bridges, one of which advertising the Manchester Evening News. After drawing the viewer into what seemed a straightforward parody, the cover is blown after the utterance of these very words:
‘That Gladys Althorpe, she never buys her own…’
Pure genius, and by far my favourite Boddies advert of their spectacular 1990s campaign, which would later see Melanie Sykes in an ice cream van.
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2. Carling Black Label: Get It Right (1981)
Prior to spoofing Dambusters, a Levis advert and The Krypton Factor, some early adverts of Bass’ favoured Canadian lager brand were more modest. A typical advert under the Get It Right campaign would see a Carling Black Label branded block of ice explode before cutting to a celebrity picking up a can of Carling. Then another block of ice appears before an ordinary drinker is seen in a pub with the said beer. Later versions would see the block ice shown once and Lennie Bennett saying he got it right.
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3. Greenall Whitley: ‘I Wish I Was In Greenall Whitley Land’ (1983)
The first scene of this advert sees a group of men breaking rocks and breaking into song with the advertising jingle (the title a play on I Wish I Was In Dixieland). In their dream, we see a typical Greenall Whitley pub serving a few pints of one of Warrington’s finest exports. We see shots of a snooker player (no doubt inspiring the Tony Knowles picture in a near-identical pose seen in the second series of Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights). Then the pert buttocks of a female bar person in full view (which wouldn’t be allowed in today’s adverts), before we see our dreamer saying he missed the beer most of all.
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4. Moorhouses Pendle Witches Brew: Elf and Safety (2010)
A more recent edition to our countdown, and definitely a ‘blink and you miss’ moment as the campaign wasn’t on for long. In a cheap and cheerful advert by the Burnley brewery which sees a group of drinkers, we see one of them cracking a joke about Health and Safety. He then says ‘Elf and Safety’ which a reference not only to the corruption of the phrase (voraciously used by Richard Littlejohn in derogatory terms), but also in reference to the diminutive size of a passing customer.
The advertisement probably only went out in the Granada region, but didn’t appear on our screens for long. Possibly because of how an off the cuff observation may have been near the knuckle for vertically challenged real ale drinkers.
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5. John Smith’s Bitter: A Tough Act To Follow (1981)
I’ve never been too much of a fan of John Smith’s Bitter, preferring the offerings of the Old Brewery (especially their Nut Brown Ale and Oatmeal Stout). However, this could be made up for by the glut of fantastic adverts used to promote this no-nonsense ale. Before Peter Kay, Jack Dee, or even the late great Simon Cadell’s voiceover on the amorous ladybirds, it was down to Gordon Rollings and Charlie Pemberton to provide the comic moments.
In this case, they were upstaged by Tonto, a Jack Russell Terrier who would respond to the words ‘fancy a drop of John Smiths?’ Cue our protruding chested short legged hero, seen balancing a stool, juggling and other circus tricks to Entry of the Gladiators. Comedy gold.
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6. Whitbread Trophy Best Bitter: He’s Only Happy When He’s Holding T’ Trophy (1980s)
After being ‘the pint that thinks it’s a quart’, a later campaign for Whitbread Trophy saw our drinkers in competitive situations, leading up to the punchline denoted above. One example chronicled the mid-1980s fad of domino rallies, often seen on Record Breakers or as an ‘…and finally’ item on ITN’s News at Ten. Often in Japan or anywhere else big enough to have a picture of St. Basil’s Cathedral in domino form.
Our advert sees a dominos championship segue into a domino rally, in a pub rather than Earl’s Court of course. As well as its punchline, we see the Whitbread Trophy logo revealed in domino form at the end.
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7. Ind Coope Double Diamond: I’m Only Here For The Beer (1975)
In the pre-CAMRA era, few pale ales tended to capture the imagination of drinkers on a national scale. There was Marston’s Pedigree and Ind Coope’s pale ales. One of them, thanks partly to the power of commercial television would go national: Double Diamond. The bottled form was launched in the late 1950s with a keg version in the early 1960s. It most famous punchline was ‘A Double Diamond Works Wonders’.
In one advertisement, dating from 1975, we see a wedding party. A guest is about to make a speech and utters the following words, ‘I’m only here for the beer’. His mother cries with his father reassuring her it was Double Diamond. We then see a shot of the glass and the ‘Double Diamond Works Wonders’ jingle to the tune of There’s A Hole In My Bucket.
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8. Oranjeboom: It’s A Lager Not A Tune (1983)
Shortly after lager’s rise in popularity since the 1970s, a lot of British brewers had adopted foreign brands for their tied houses. Most famously, Bass with Carling; Whitbread houses with Heineken; in Faversham, Shepherd Neame adopted the Dutch lager brand Oranjeboom for their public house. It is still brewed under licence from Oranjeboom in Kent today.
Their 1983 advert show an animated tiled background with stereotypical Dutch men singing to the Van Der Valk signature tune. For persons of a certain age, Simon Park’s Eye Level would always mean ‘Oranjeboom, Oranjeboom/It’s a lager not a tune…’
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9. Lamot Pils: Seek Out The Lager of Lamot (1980)
Today, Lamot Pils is no longer sold on these shores, after seeing its UK strength fall from 6% to 5% in 1993. The Belgian beer brewed in Mechelen inspired one of the most creative beer ads of the early 1980s. In the UK, it was promoted by Bass Breweries and sold as a premium priced strong ale. As part of their sponsorship of the North West Counties Football League, their league cup competition was known as The Lamot Pils Trophy.
It was an intricately animated advert with a bombastic soundtrack which won friends with art students the world over. On launch, it was showcased at an expo in New York and seen in the Cannes Film Festival. This advert would continue to be seen till the late 1980s. Needless to say, I loved the detail and the soundtrack when I saw the advert first time around.
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10. Younger’s Scotch Bitter: ‘There’s Nowt Clever About Walking’ (1983)
For our final one, we have further proof of how humour and singalong qualities were part and parcel of a good early 1980s beer advert. We see our drinker trying to do death-defying stunts for the sake of a pint of keg bitter. In the case of one advert, swimming the English Channel with concrete blocks then carrying an eight ton weight over the Alps with nothing on. Before walking on both his feet to a bar outside a gas holder with a few other drinkers playing the jingle.
One pipes up by saying ‘there’s nowt clever about walking’, effectively ending the advert.
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Time Gentlemen, Please…
Feel free to add to the above ten or elaborate on the above advertisements. Do you remember the Greenall Whitley adverts, or can you still whistle along to the Younger’s Scotch Bitter tune. Comment freely with great articulation.
S.V., 09 April 2014.