“You can tell the ideas of a nation by its advertisements.”
George Norman Douglas
Early 1990’s were a really confusing period in history of Poland and other Central European countries, because that was the time when on one hand people were taking taste of freedom after collapse of Communist regime, but on the other hand they were badly hit by mundane problems of socio-economical-political transformation: unemployment, poverty, inflation, disappointing politics and fear over future.
Anxiety about the future were mixing together with blind relish with Western popular culture and consumerism. The fall of totalitarian ideology combined itself with chaotic and bizarre notions of “freedom”. Clueless people were trying to understand new reality of capitalism. And early TV commercials were a reflection of those times. Let’s see this by ourselves:
Brief explanation what’s going on on specific timestamps:
0:00 – 0:45 – That one is boring, and is about the toothpaste produced by major global corporation
0:46 – 1:16 – A all-male choir is praising the chocolate without showing the actual chocolate
1:17 – 1:50 – An cartoon rabbit is bringing happiness to the children in orphanage by handing out some salty, unhealthy snacks. No explanation is needed.
1:51 – 2:22 – That one is the best! An elderly woman (played by cross-dressed male actor) is praising the “Japanese miracle technology”, the electronic scales and cash registers, that are “fascinating the modern women”, and are “the next best thing for aspiring businesswomen” that “outsmarts competition”.
2:23 – 2:56 – A sexy woman is falling in love with a giant bar of soap. And this is exactly what you think.
2:57 – 3:10 – A menstrual pad advert, that tries hard to be “sexy”.
3:11 – 3:40 – A guy is futily chasing a money blown by the wind, and is finds refuge in the bank, that payed for that advert. Nice methaphor of daily anxieties back then.
3:41 -3:56 – Pepsi advert. Move along.
3:57 – 4:16 – A dumpster divier finds dirty rag in trash, washes it with washing agent (made in Germany), and gets nice clean dress. That implies some unfortunate implications (read: Poles are too poor for new clothes).
4:17 – 4:47 – Got a problem with washing your dress? Postwoman to the rescue!
4:48 – 5:15 – Advert for Ruffels potato chips. Move along.
5:16 – 5:47 – Another advert for artificially flavoured, salty, English – named snacks made from potatoes and corn, that are making kids crazy over them… And parents upset about calories intake.
Exhibit #2: Psychic cat is messing with your appliances:
Hard to believe, that those things were produced here, now every supermarket is full of heaters made in China…
Exhibit #3: Our plastic windows are keeping creepy voyeuristic middle-aged men at bay!
Exhibit #4: Keep your telephone bills low with our gizmo, that is blocking certain numbers with the turn of the brass key!
I guess that overdrawn phone budget was a huge deal back then…
Exhibit #5: Buy our VHS cassettes, and see “the world of adventure, action and sexxxxx”!
Watching trashy movies on VHS was prime national entertainment back then!