Saturday, August 1, 2009


Originally Posted 12-26-08

Let's take a moment to forget about Joey Tribbiani, struggling actor, and look into the early works of Matt LeBlanc, struggling actor. He was actually in a lot of commercials before Friends. and wasn't just known as being the cover model for Spartacus, an annual international gay travel guide book.

I'm not here to out LeBlanc or anything. He denies being gay, and probably just did it for the money. I'm not really interested one way or another. I'm more concerned about this:

This commercial just confuses me. I say this as someone who grew up with VHS and still has a rarely used VCR in his living room. It appears that Le Clic is a form of VHS tape that comes in festive colors that promises high-quality picture. Actually, all it really seems to do is make your television emit bright colors causing the viewer to dance and join the mob that goes around town breaking into people's living rooms to spread the Le Clic curse.

The unwitting victims are minding their own business. If you notice, the dancing mob doesn't ever remove any tapes from the VCRs. The victims aren't even watching a regular VHS tape at the time of the attacks, so there's no basis for comparison for how superior Le Clic is.

What's really sad is that I have no recollection of this product. As a kid, I remember occasionally seeing videotapes that weren't black, but Le Clic doesn't really stick out. Wikipedia doesn't seem to find anything, and a Google search brings up an article that ran in the New York Times in 1987 saying the advertising firm was giving four million dollars for the ad campaign.

Four million dollars, and the best they could come up with is "Le Clic is hot, boring is not."

I don't know exactly what happened to Le Clic. Here's how I imagine it going down. Carl the Customer is at a store to buy blank tapes. There are regular video tapes, or he could buy the tapes whose high resolution is a "rev-rev-revolution." Carl says to himself, "Le Clic is hot. Why use what's not?" Then Carl realizes that Le Clic is actually more expensive, because it's higher quality, and he also realizes he doesn't need to shell out extra for high quality VHS because he's just using it to tape episodes of Who's the Boss and Wheel of Fortune.

Also, the commercial is ridiculous.

Yet, commercial casting directors from sea to shining sea noticed a diamond in the rough in that leather jacket-clad head-bopper in the background. Soon, he would star in his own commercials.

First off, I remember this commercial. I probably haven't seen it in 15 years, yet as I was watching I was saying, "Okay, you're going to slide down the banister at some point," and "a little bit of ketchup is going to come out, but it's going to, somehow, be enough for the hot dog on street level...and then the ketchup will magically stop." So, yes, even when I was a kid, I would pick commercials apart.

The best part of this commercial is the proto-"How you doin'?" wink he gives at the very end.

Imagine how much work went into him doing this. First, he had to time how long it takes ketchup to ooze out of the bottle, and how long it takes to drop x stories to the ground. Then he had to calculate how long it takes him to casually saunter down x flights of stairs.

Ooze time + x stories = Time it takes to sauntering down x flights of stairs + Time it takes to order and get served a hot dog

It gets even more complicated if you want to time it right to make sure a pretty girl is at the hot dog stand to see the trick.

He has to solve for x, find a building with x stories that has an adjacent hot dog stand and open access to the roof. I mean, right away, I'm thinking I wouldn't want to invest that much time.

There are way too many uncontrolled variables. There could be a mother slowly pulling a stroller up the stairs as he's on the way down. There could be a line at the hot dog stand. A strong wind could blow the ketchup bottle off the edge of the wall of the roof and totally bean some innocent pedestrian. That would actually be kind of funny—not in real life, of course—because where does the ketchup end and the blood begin?

Luckily, it works out. Not only that, a girl is there to witness the outcome. And it's not the last time he gets the girl.

Here's a typical weekend night for LeBlanc's character. He and his friends are driving around for whatever wholesome activity they have planned for the night. Of course, no night of fun is complete without a six-pack of Cherry 7Up, so the friends go to the local Fast*Stop, where the following exchange takes place.

DRIVER: Okay, LeBlanc, go in and pick us up a six-pack of Cherry 7Up.
LEBLANC: Why me? I'm in the backseat of a two-door car. Wouldn't it make sense if the passenger ran in? Passenger's going to have to get out of the car, let me out, get back in and then get back out to let me in again.
PASSENGER (gets out, pulls the seat forward to let LEBLANC out): Just do it. You know I have a fear of simple transactions.
LEBLANC (climbs out): I know that's B.S., because I saw you buy Chap Stik last week. Is there anything else you guys want?
PASSENGER (as he gets back in): No, just the Cherry 7Up.
LEBLANC: No chips or anything to snack on?
DRIVER: Would you go already?
LEBLANC (and this is where the commercial actually opens): Fine, I'll go.

LeBlanc enters the store and locks eyes with the girl behind the counter. He picks up the soda, pays and heads out the door. Apparently, LeBlanc's raw sexuality is too much for the girl to bear because she has to air herself off. LeBlanc, on the other hand, has a way to "How you doin'" himself into her heart, and he explains his plan to his friends.

LEBLANC: You know what, you guys? I think it's kind of shitty that you make me sit in the backseat, and then make me go for the soda run. I'm not hanging out with you guys tonight.
DRIVER: What are you going to do?
LEBLANC: I'm going to stand out here and wait for the girl behind the counter to get off from work so that I can give her one of these Cherry 7Ups.
PASSENGER: Like hell you are!
LEBLANC: Look, I'll keep one for myself, one for her, and here's the remaining four. (hands them the four-pack)
DRIVER: So you're hitting on a girl wearing Guess overalls?
LEBLANC: Hey, it's the early '90s. I'm wearing a denim jacket with a pink T-shirt. Who am I to judge?
PASSENGER: Isn't waiting for her like this kind of like stalking?
LEBLANC: Would you guys get out of here?

Somehow, LeBlanc's plan works and the counter girl is impressed with the guy who stood outside of the store for who knows how long to give her a soda that she—as an employee of Fast*Stop—could probably already get for free. It could have been warm by this time.

I don't know if you noticed, but the Fast*Stop sign isn't lit in pink when LeBlanc is seen walking out of the door.

I'm not sure if this is the only commercial that Cherry 7Up did at the time that was shot in all black and white with exception of the pink. I certainly remember the concept. In fact, I'm a little ashamed to admit that when I saw Schindler's List for the first time, and we saw the girl in the red coat, it reminded me of these commercials.

Meanwhile, LeBlanc became so adept at starring in soda commercials that he was given the big cheese of sodas.

I don't have too much to say about this commercial, except it operates on the same principle of Mr. Tyzik from The Kids in the Hall, better known as "The Headcrusher."

In the end, LeBlanc doesn't get the girl, but he does get the Coke. Isn't that better in a lot of ways. It's a pretty magical Coke. It actually cooled him off enough to completely dry his shirt from sweat and for him to warrant needing a jacket. Now, he was able to board the bus without being completely stinky. This is kind of a shame. My attitude is every bus has at least one stinky person, it might as well be me. I'm used to my stink, but I wouldn't want to have to endure someone else's.

I guess the fact that he's all cleaned up means that he has free reign of any females on the bus. Of course, without any neat ketchup tricks or Cherry 7Ups to offer out, he may be out of luck on that front.

Just a quick note of where this commercial appears in the Coca-Cola timeline, this was before they used the slogan "Always Coca-Cola." However, this was after it was being called Coca-Cola Classic—which was necessary after "The New Coke incident." It's very similar to "The Beaver Incident" in The Kids in the Hall sketch about the French fur trappers in the office. "What were we thinking?"

The jingle in this commercial used to go:
The feeling you get from a Coca-Cola Classic

But the jingle here cuts off "Classic." That's probably a branding trick. You can't change the product name back to the original, the jingle and the slogan all in one swoop. I'm not sure why. People too dumb to be able to find the soda they have been drinking nearly all of their life are probably the ones dumb enough to figure out a way to kill themselves using your product. Let RC Cola deal with the lawsuits.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, he was so hot in that Coke commercial!