The 1980s were a pretty weird decade and our advertising was no exception. Creatively titled YouTube channel ‘UK TV Adverts / Promos’ has unearthed this deeply odd Time Out commercial – there’s no dialogue and a lot of robots, climaxing in a robot saying ‘TIME OUT’ in a robot voice. And that’s pretty much it! Take that, Don Draper.
Time Out’s founder Tony Elliott recalls:
‘We must have been planning or scheduled a campaign in cinemas, failed to get anything great from our ad agency, and then thought “fuck it, let’s use this bright young new talent.”
Who we remembered is Pete Bishop!
‘I remember we gave [him] a lot a latitude provided the magazine/brand got promoted. It was deliberately left quite abstract and we saw it as a great piece of work rather than a naked commercial push. And it fitted the general policy of supporting new talent; they then went on to become something of a name in animation for commercials.’
But was it a success?
‘This was very innovative at the time. It had a huge impact. People went to the cinema in those days, and cinema advertising then was relatively cheap and we could make a small budget go a long way.’
And by way of illustrating our far-out creativity, here’s a contemporaneous ad for despised quasi-rival TV Times – it doesn’t even have a single robot in it! Unbelievable.
That said, some other advertisers probably took things too far…