Back in the day, before ad blockers or the option to skip ads were a thing, watching TV meant being forced to sit through the ads that came with our programmes. While many ads have come and gone, some were executed so well – or so poorly – that we still remember them fondly to this day.
Here are the five best nostalgic ads that still give us major feels today.
If you were a 90s kid, you’ll probably remember this one very well. A TV ad for the now defunct online classifieds platform Mocca.com, the video features Vietnamese ex-bodybuilder, Ben Ha, in nothing more than a pair of zebra-printed briefs as he promotes his house for sale.
Throughout the video, Ben flexes his muscles and strikes some macho poses as he gives the audience a house tour, complete with iconic lines like “check out my matching pipes”…referring to the pipes in his toilet, of course.
We got secondhand embarrassment from watching it, but it definitely got lodged deep in the recesses of our minds for all eternity. That being said, that certainly wasn’t the last we saw of him. Like all nostalgic movies where beloved characters return in future sequels for a cameo, Ben returned in 2021 for a YouTube ad with property platform 99.co.
This time, he’s posed as someone looking to buy a home, and goes on to list various attributes of the 99.co platform while still striking his iconic bodybuilder poses.
A decade ago, telco plans were all about talk time and free SMS limits, rather than unlimited data quotas that we know today. To help promote their free international direct dialling (IDD) calls, local telco M1 came up with a pretty witty and ingenious ad involving an Indian restaurant owner in Mumbai who receives a call for a food delivery to none other than our little red dot.
We have to say that this ad was quite memorable given the comical exchange between the caller and the restaurant owner. But perhaps the best part was the punchline at the end, with the owner’s “Mumbai dai…India!”
3. Anything and Whatever
Remember the canned drinks Anything and Whatever? They were drinks designed by a local beverage company, with their names inspired by the typical indecisive responses most of us give when asked what we want to drink.
The Anything range was a fizzy drink in six different flavours, and the Whatever range came in six non-carbonated flavours.
Playing on the pun, the company came up with a simple and funny TV ad featuring two gangster-looking men entering a convenience store and asking the cashier for said drinks. What happens subsequently is lost in translation, resulting in a hilarious reaction by the two men. Simple, to the point, and oh so punny!
4. Koko Krunch
Cereal was undoubtedly one of our breakfast staples growing up. As kids, we probably gunned for the ones that were sugar or chocolate-laden. And Koko Krunch, with their iconic Koala mascot, was one of them.
To wow kids, the Nestlé team came up with an animated video depicting exactly how Koko Krunch is made: by a tornado tearing through a chocolate factory, showering all that chocolatey goodness onto a wheat field. While there was 0 logic involved, it certainly worked wonders to motivate kids to nag their parents to buy the cereal.
The takeaway: Marketing to children is just as effective, if not more effective a tactic as any.
5. Nippon Paint
Rounding off our list of five nostalgic ads is the one by Nippon Paint. Paint fumes are a universal bane that any homeowner would struggle with. And this short ad was effective in pointing out all the issues homeowners face when attempting to add some life to their walls, positioning Nippon Paint as the odourless solution they never knew they needed in their lives…till now.
In addition, their use of the sumo wrestler as a constant in all their video ads worked in their favour as a trademark people remember to this day.
Nostalgic ads that we’ve seen in Singapore
Amongst the many ads that we come across on a daily basis, there’s bound to be a handful that we’ll resonate with and love. If there is a lesson to be learnt from these nostalgic ads, it’s that advertising need not be overly complicated or thought provoking. After all, they only had up to 30 seconds of TV time to cover the brief.
Instead, something as simple as a witty skit can go a long way in getting your brand’s message across – and bonus points if these ads generate conversations down the road! After all, in the world of advertising, brand recall and retention are key indicators of a successful ad.