What learned about liquor from 70’s porn.

This first thing I learned was that Miss January was hot.  Especially the one with her in the hot tub. Wow.

This first thing I learned was that Miss January was hot. Especially the one with her in the hot tub. Wow.

What learned about liquor from 70’s porn .

It is said when Dom Perignon first tasted champagne he said, “Come quickly, I am drinking the stars!” That is a divine quote, it makes me feel the way that good champagne should make you feel, like god wants you to drink it. In reality, it was British wine makers that likely began to develop sparkling white wine well before Dom P. Even more, Dom Perignon died in 1715 and the famous quote wasn’t in print until the 1800’s, at which time it was in, “ye ol’ liquor and spirits advertisement.”

Ads lie. Liquor ads, doubly so. And that is why I’m fascinated by liquor ads, I rail against booze of ill repute often, and the lies they put upon the public and then of course the requests put upon me. Well, we can’t look into a crystal ball and find out who will out. But we can look back 30 years and see who was a liar then. First off, congrats to Tanq, Jameson, and Bombay Dry, your ads were too classy and boring to bother talking about, and thusly effective.

Liquor ad time capsule: January 1980
Liquor ad time capsule: January 1980
After Timothy Dalton beat him out for Bond; he drank Myer’s til his pancreas burst.  This slow death took almost 2 hours.
After Timothy Dalton beat him out for Bond; he drank Myer’s til his pancreas burst. This slow death took almost 2 hours.

I used to work a reggae night in college and we sold a ton of Myer’s rum, but never to this guy. But, I will say, 30 years after this ad I still sell Myer’s rum to men that think this was cool. I can appreciate that what is trying to happen here is the idea that dark rum is more complex and thus manlier than light rum. However, we know now that dark rum like Myer’s is better on pancakes than in a drink. It also perpetuates, “because it costs more, its better,” which is a flag that advertisers still fly every day.

When an ad draws imagary from the Romanov's I do think "Gunned down in a cellar."

If you have ever worked in a bar you might be surprised that Wolfschmidt would even have ever advertised. But I think the phrase at the bottom says it all: “Genuine Vodka.” As if to say, yes, it is vodka, for real, seriously, it is a thing. I want to make jokes about how Wolfschmidt will kill you but instead I’ll quote Anthony Bourdain from Kitchen Confidential when he refers to the quality of Wolfschmidt.: “[Adam has] been snorting coke and smoking weed and drinking vodka from a half gallon jug of Wolfschmidt, if he is drinking a better brand

he probably stole it.” But what really is happening here is simple you are to believe that this is a fabulous royal, proud Russian product of the finest quality. In reality, it is currently regarded as rot gut brand that even then was made in America and the ad admits the latter in small print at the bottom of the page. So people used to think it was great vodka and now its called the worst, HINT, HINT, MODERN CORELATION?

When an ad draws imagary from the Romanov’s I do think “Gunned down in a cellar.”
Seagram’s Gin, or not, whatever, I mean its open already might as well.
Seagram’s Gin, or not, whatever, I mean its open already might as well.

Seagram’s Gin: Because mediocre gin doesn’t need a mixer. Wait, what? Again, Seagram’s is pretty ok, I’ve used it in the well at several places I’ve worked, but its not a halter dress and tux kind of product. Note that the fact that it has a screw top is prominently featured. Also note, a perfect martini is a drink, not a gin on the rocks. But what is true about the ad is the general level of adequacy on the face of the mildly pleased people.

I live in a cave with a tribe of Raccoons
I live in a cave with a tribe of Raccoons

What I love about this Yukon Jack ad is so simple: Yukon Jack, it’ll make you homeless. Ah, sweet sweet Yukon Jack, obviously, using the imagery of Rasputin as a foil to that of the Wolfschmidt’s Romanovs.

Maybe Laredo is actually a mustache wax and not a liquor.  I could have this whole thing backwards.
Maybe Laredo is actually a mustache wax and not a liquor. I could have this whole thing backwards.

All I know about Laredo is that it is a liqueur for homosexual cowboys. Seriously, nobody I’ve spoken to including my friend the internet has any idea what Laredo Liqueur was. The ad itself give no clues either. So it comes in a denim bag, offers that if you use it in Pina Coladas, Manhattans or Screwdriver (what?) and is marketed towards Burt Reynolds enthusesist. I could clown on this all day, really all day but then I couldn’t make the very relevant point about the very transient tastes of the liquor world. Think about it, full page ad in PLAYBOY and now no one has even heard of it. This is how I think of any liquor that comes my way, will it even exist in 5 years? I might be being too tough on a Smoky and the Bandit Liqueur but really, it this any stupider than X rated or Hpnotiq or Tyku? Will you be able to drink either in 5 years? I hope not. And if you look closely and you will also see that this fabulous ad is actually a painting.

Ballantine’s is using great ice, and in an ok ad, but the problem is putting a price on it. Ballantine’s still costs $9 a bottle and I have never seen a 30 year bottle of it (priced at $75 in 1980). I might suggust this is just a marketing failure of equating the shit stuff you have with the champagne. Modern distilleries don’t do this anymore. There is no shame in calling your scwag booze a completely different label, the best distilleries do it. But to continue the theme of many of these ads, Ballantines is quite, OK. I’d drink it before Dewar’s or Johnny Red but now we are splitting hairs.

Zane Grey writes about drinking Ballantine’s, if you don’t know what that means you are under 50 years of age.
Zane Grey writes about drinking Ballantine’s, if you don’t know what that means you are under 50 years of age.
Dreaming of Mrs. Butterworth
Dreaming of Mrs. Butterworth
Bill's off Broadway uses their Galliano bottle as a paper towel holder
Bill’s off Broadway uses their Galliano bottle as a paper towel holder

Italian Liqueurs are the one of the finest pleasures in life. Italian liqueurs are my favorite things about French restaurants. I hope to never learn the truly learn the dirty marketing secret of my favorites. But I just have to point out the irony of these two “Italian” liqueurs’ ads. First off Frangelico is again, OK but they do not hide the fact that the whole product was invented to be a souvenir. The whole marketing sham was based around the idea of monks making liquor whereas Frangelico is made in a factory by machines. Galliano is a different irony. First off, the Harvey Wallbanger is amazing; let me speak no ill of Galliano (now that you can buy it in a 375), one of my greatest successes as a bartender was when I sold 2 dozen Wallbangers to a lesbian softball team. It was a party. The irony here is that Galliano is actually made all over the world, in many countries; none of them are Italy though. Look at the bottle; it will like say “made in Holland,” next to the Lego factory.

Big fat greek crap
Big fat greek crap

I was being generous before, most of that stuff is OK, Metaxa is not. I HATE METAXA SO MUCH! Share your Metaxa with her? And underline “her?” Why bother, I’m reading PLAYBOY, I’m already all about “her,” PLAYBOY is all about showing “her, “ parts. I don’t need to be reminded that I’m into girls and at no point in my life have I said, “hey bro, lets go get a carbonated Metaxa drink with a cherry and an orange wedge.” From research, I understand that there was a point in history where Metaxa was a common drink for men, but not this way of things now. But you know what does work? Trying to sell women a fancy lady drink that makes them feel fancy. Frankly I think Metaxa tastes like the inside of a moldy pup tent. But I still always, all of the time sell Metaxa side cars to the ladies, I try to discourage them but I fail.

It is very rare for racism to be funny, but here it is.
It is very rare for racism to be funny, but here it is.

“WE PUERTO RICANS KNOW LIGHT RUM.”

By far my favorite ad. I am an 8th generation (or so) American mutt, so take my word for it, I know a lot about Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. What is going on here? Perhaps I’m reading in to this too much, I mean the man in the ad does look like my father did in 1980. Is this an ad for the pride of the Puerto Rican people or is this a way to say its OK to drink what Puerto Ricans drink? This ad is maddening, what the hell does it mean? I know it at least means if Wolfschmidt is the best vodka and all of the gin is London dry, then yes of course Rum is smoother. The only thing that comes close to a modern parallel to this ad would be ads for Red Stripe beer. I know that Jamaicans hate ads for this stuff, but their exports are owned by not Jamaicans so there is no one to complain to. Conversely, I would love it if any European country would place an ad in a national magazine reading “We’re Europe, so we know that you are drinking shitty beer America.”

I guess what we’ve leaned is:

1. Market towards woman, they are half the planet

2. I you have to say how great of a value it is, it isn’t.  And disassociate yourself from your crappy products.

3. Saying “this is better because it costs more,” has been working for years.

4.  If you want to be affiliated with a country just say you are from there, nobody will ever ask.

5. One day you have a spirit company, the next everyone is asking “what the fuck was that Laredo/Hpnotiq thing anyway?”

6. If you want some one to see your ad over and over for thirty years, put it in a porno mag, not a house keeping or news  magazine.

7. Something better is going to come along, most of these brands don’t stay at the top and even less are willing to charge fair market price for a quality product.  -Respect Beefeater

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3 Responses to What learned about liquor from 70’s porn.

  1. pony says:

    ha, miss january…she is hot in a way that naked Lynnwood moms are. Just don’t look at her hair or bad early 80’s makeup. If she wasn’t naked, slathered in sexy oily bubbles she’d be slathered in shoulder pads & (camel toe) acid wash to be sure. But I guess this can be said for alot of ladies (80’s or not give or take a bad pants & squareness of shoulders) with hot bodies and average-ness above the neck. (Can go for men too in a pinch i.e. beer goggles, bulge and/or wallet) The shot of Miss January playing with her feet like a toddler who just discovered their toes in the tub is a little weird. But then all “sexy” posing is pretty funny when you look at it for too long.

  2. wasabi prime says:

    Holy hell, this is hilarious. I remember sneaking a peek at my dad’s Playboys and recall the Steve Martin cover, thinking, oh, he’s the funny guy and I loved his arrow-thru-the-head bit. I was flipping thru the pages and was like oh, this isn’t like Saturday Night Live at *all.* That Laredo ad is going to haunt my nightmares for a while — my subconscious is busy working up a deviant plot to feature a fabulous painted cowboy swagged in denim, offering me shots of miserable booze and mustache rides. Grand.

  3. Pingback: Vintage liquor ads — A Dash of Bitters

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