Have you seen this ad? Most likely.

I noticed something was happening. The first time I saw it, I just softly “hmm”ed and moved on. The next time, I made sure to make a mental note.

We’re seeing old ads on TV. As in, pulled out of the vault, dusted-off 1980s ads.

I wish I could remember the first example of it happening but my brain mostly likely got rid of that memory in order to process the FreeCreditReport.com new band search. The most striking example that proves I’m not seeing things is a wonderfully nostalgic Era spot.

Note! IT’S NOT THIS SPOT. I googled endlessly but couldn’t find it. It’s a lot like this ad, except with this song.

Pretend you can envision this ad. It has a gravy boat overturning. It has wine glasses spilling. It has a Laura Ingalls Wilder-esque floor-length dress on a woman (no heads of people are ever visible). Then, like a beam of light breaking through the clouds, comes Era — spelled out for the viewer directly on the stain, E-R-A, the one thing that can save the clumsy, stain-prone population. Then two water jets criss-cross over one another, showing Era’s impressive spot-removing ability.

Part of what I love about this ad is that EVEN THE VERSION RUNNING NOW is unabashedly dated. The dress’ collar. The fuzzy graphics. The corny, frenzied orchestra piece it’s set to. There was little to no attempt to bring this ad up to modern speed.

And yet here it plays in 2010, when a middle-schooler with a MacBook and his iPhone could probably replicate the ad AND place it on Youtube in under a day.

My first reaction to this ad is, “Hey- I remember this!” which almost leads me to wonder if that’s what the Era team had in mind when they unfroze it from its cryogenic chamber. Were they banking on the fact that we may get a cheap thrill from recognizing an old ad? Or were they trying to remind us about how they’ve been around for a while, always helping us with our stubborn stains?

Maybe they’re running this ad because we’re in a tough economy and there are still many elements to this ad that ring true about the brand. I always particularly liked how they spell out the brand name in the detergent and a magic “E-R-A” is spray-washed clean through the built-up stains. It’s memorable and does, in a weird way, make me believe that Era can get the job done. Not to mention, if they’re saving money in the creation of the ad, they can focus more on placement.

In some ways, this is what Coca Cola does when it annually unpacks the polar bears and lovingly restores them to our TV screens. And there’s always that Christmas M&Ms commercial that I can recite by heart. “He really does exist!” “They really do exist!” THUD! Maybe Era is simply mimicking these brands. Unfortunately, these spots are perfectly paired holidays, when nostalgia is not only at a premium, but particularly effective. This Era spot has no season in the editorial calendar helping it out.

It’s interesting to see old spots run. I hope to see a few more trickle through so that I can yell “AHA!” at my screen, while feeling as if I just ran into an old friend on the street.

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2 Comments on “Have you seen this ad? Most likely.”

  1. Peggy Keefe says:

    I agree–I love old ads. (Well, except the super old, offensive to women ones.) And now that I’m thinking about coke & m&ms it’s time for lunch.

  2. kellystonebock says:

    Hey Peggy! Yea, old ads are kinda great. Check out iloveoldmagazines.tumblr.com (by the same guys who bring you ilovecharts) to see some great print ads. 🙂 Thanks for commenting.


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