I like to talk about my favorite ad campaigns from the past that kinda slipped through the cracks of people’s memories on Retro Ad Tuesdays. The internet generally has a better memory than most people do because of the vast warehouse it has become of information from all subjects and all eras. But there are times when even the internet seems to have a bad case of dementia, and in particular YouTube… where you can find music clips from just about every video game ever made, episodes of TV shows that the networks would take down if they knew about them, and some of the stupidest videos you can ever imagine made by people who suffer from felony boredom.
I had long planned what my featured commercial for the NYE edition of Retro Ad Tuesday would be, the 1995 ad for Korbel
sparkling wine champagne in their famous “The Champagne’s Not Korbel!” campaign that featured the year-end countdown in Times Square. But I never actually checked YouTube to make sure the video for it was there… I mean, how could it not be? That delightful campaign was well loved and much parodied in the 90’s, and surely YT was littered with ads from its reign on the airwaves…
Imagine my utter shock when I not only didn’t find the New Years Eve Korbel ad, but really ANY ads from the heart of their ‘The Champagne’s Not Korbel!” era! I did find just one, which gives the basic formula behind each of the commercials Korbel aired in this campaign I loved so much…
At the beginning of each ad, you saw people celebrating with champagne… having a good old time… whether it be at a wedding, in Times Square, in the gutter, wherever people would normally drink champagne. In the midst of the good times, someone would note rather starkly that the champagne was not Korbel… and that’s when things would all totally go to hell. In the ad above, the best man goes from making a wonderful toast to the couple, to slandering them for being so cheap and tasteless in their choice of alcohol for the big day. There was even one spot where some guy about to get lucky drinks the champagne out of his girlfriend’s shoe, only to spit it out when he finds out the champagne wasn’t Korbel!
Shouting out that the champagne was not Korbel was the surefire way to
get your ass kicked be the life of the party back in the mid 90’s. With Bartles & Jaymes and Orson Welles out of the picture, Korbel undoubtedly had the best ads for non-beer alcohol sector on TV in the entire Clinton decade. But either not enough VCR’s were recording them, or there’s a conspiracy afoot to keep the cork on anyone ever thinking about this campaign again.
So back to the New Years Eve commercial… it starts with stock crowd shots from a past Times Square celebration. Everyone is counting down to the big ball drop… but when they get towards the end, someone shouts out the magic words!
And guess what happens…. instead of counting down, the crowd starts counting up!!! And the ball… it starts going back up the pole! Absolutely classic!!! An ingenious idea!!!
And I had thought of it first….
Back in the summer of 1994, with nothing to keep myself occupied since I was such a social outcast, I began writing a bunch of commercial parodies. I always wrote parodies of pop culture stuff when I was bored, but this time I was actually writing to film them. I grabbed the camcorder (one of those clunky models that were popular 20 years ago) and hired the only three actresses I could find (my three youngest sisters), and we had a ball recording all of these corny ads I came up with. It’s just possible that VHS tape still exists at my parents’ house too, and if it does, it is video proof that I thought up of the entire concept of that Korbel ad a full year and a half before they began airing it in 1995! Complete down to the count-up and the ball (A whiffle ball on a string with 1994 written on it in marker) being pulled back up the laundry line pole by an off camera sister.
Damn you Korbel!!!!
Oh well, that’s the way it goes. No matter how neat of an idea you think you may have, someone’s probably already thought of it as well, or will cash in on it while you sit on your ass and shoot commercials with your sisters. So on this lovely final day of 2013, The Nest would like to pop open the bubbly and give a hearty toast to the champagne of sparkling wines, Korbel. Thank you for your entertaining and hilarious commercials, and….
Errrrr, nevermind. There will be no toasting today! Good night everybody…
Evil Squirrel’s Nest signing off for 2013! Have a Happy New Year everyone!