These Memorable Taglines from the 1980s Will Make You So Nostalgic
You'll never forget these jingles and catchphrases, no matter how hard you try.
When you think of earworms, your first thought is probably an infectiously catchy pop song. But it's not just radio hits that stay with us long after they're done playing. In fact, one could argue that there is a type of tune that's even catchier than a Top 40 hit: commercial jingles.
In a 2003 study from the University of Cincinnati, researchers found that a 1988 Kit-Kat commercial was one of the most common earworms out there. And if you were a TV fan during this glorious decade, we know you're currently singing, "Gimme a break, gimme a break. Break me off a piece of that Kit-Kat bar."
But Kit-Kat's iconic '80s commercial was just one of many. Here are 13 more 1980s taglines and jingles that we'll never be able to forget, no matter how hard we try.
"The choice of a new generation" (Pepsi)
The Cola Wars of the '80s, during which Pepsi and Coke battled it out for carbonated beverage supremacy, still resonates with any child of the '80s. And no tagline had quite as much cultural significance as Pepsi's grandiose declaration that their recipe for sugar water defined an entire generation. (Go easy on the Pepsi, Pepsi!) The " new generation" ads even featured the decade's biggest stars like Michael J. Fox and Michael Jackson, who crooned a Pepsi version of "Billie Jean" for one particular spot.
"We will sell no wine before its time" (Paul Masson California Wine)
How brilliant an actor was the late Orson Welles? Brilliant enough to utter this infamous wine sales pitch for Paul Masson California wine in 1980 with so much gravitas, you'd be forgiven for mistaking the discount wine sold at box stores for the beverage of choice of sophisticated vino snobs.
"Where's the beef?" (Wendy's)
Fast food (and pop culture) was changed forever the moment 4-foot-10 Clara Peller opened her mouth and shouted, "Where's the beef?" in a 1984 Wendy's commercial. It made Peller a star, and introduced the world to a rhetorical question that served as the perfect insult for just about anything.
"I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys R Us kid" (Toys R Us)
This 1980s commercial jingle spoke to the child in all of us—the part that would rather be playing with toys than going to work or studying. The Toys R Us company may have closed their doors for good last year, but the spirit of their iconic '80s commercial (featuring Jenny Lewis, pictured here) lives on. Any time we'd rather be goofing off than acting like responsible adults, that familiar refrain echoes through our heads yet again: "I don't want to grow up…"
"So kiss a little longer. Hold hands a little longer. Hold tight a little longer" (Big Red Gum)
If those Big Red commercials from the '80s were to be believed, the only thing keeping you from an endless kiss with your betrothed was choosing the right brand of chewing gum. And once you procured a pack of the good stuff, you'd "stay close a little longer" and "hold tight a little longer" thanks to your longer-lasting fresh breath. Every '80s teen was basically like, "Pass the gum pronto!" (including A Christmas Story's Peter Billingsley, who's playing the tuba in this iconic ad).
"Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?" (Grey Poupon Mustard)
If you were rich in the '80s and liked eating sandwiches in limos, the only mustard for you was Grey Poupon. This tagline featured in the ritzy condiment commercial became shorthand for, "I want people to think that I'm very, very wealthy."
"By Mennen!" (Afta Aftershave)
That catchy jingle that came at the end of Afta aftershave and Speed Stick ads in the '80s hardly gave anyone a subconscious desire to buy more grooming products. However, it did get stuck in everyone's heads, making for many an awkward moment when you couldn't help but burst out into song with, "Byyyyy Mennen!"
"I've fallen and I can't get up" (Life Alert)
The original 1980s Life Alert commercials were meant for senior citizens who needed help during medical emergencies. But that didn't stop the whole world from using the commercial's catchphrase ("I've fallen and I can't get up") in jest. The phrase became so famous that Edith Fore, the 74-year-old retired school nurse who appeared in the original commercials, was headlining New York celebrity events by the end of the decade.
"When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight" (FedEx)
We've all become accustomed to mail being unreliable at best, so when FedEx made this promise in an ad campaign during the '80s, it left quite the impression. It was the "Read my lips: No new taxes" of mail delivery guarantees—which is to say, it sure did sound convincing, even if you were a fool to believe that it was true.
"800-588-2300, Em-pire!" (Empire Flooring)
How in the world did the phone number for a Chicago flooring and home improvement company become the most famous digits committed to memory by an entire nation since 867-5309? It's all in the melody, and this flooring company commercial's was catchier than some of the greatest pop hits of the 20th century. It's so good, it's almost a mnemonic device. It's a shame jingles like this don't exist for numbers we actually NEED to remember.
"If you dare wear short-shorts, Nair for shorts-shorts" (Nair Hair Removal)
Hair removal is one of those things that most people don't want to talk about, much less sing about. So kudos to Nair for coming up with a jingle that helped open up the conversation by having women in ridiculously short-shorts symbolize personal courage (and silky smooth legs).
"This is your brain on drugs" (Partnership for a Drug-Free America)
While former First Lady Nancy Reagan was telling children that avoiding drugs was as easy as saying no, this PSA from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America made the harsh realities of drug addiction seen both simple and very, very silly. "This is your brain," the narrator informed us, holding up an egg. Then, when the egg was cracked into a hot frying pan and left to sizzle, we were told, "This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?" Actually, yeah, we had a lot of questions, and most of them required explanations that didn't involve breakfast food.
"Be all that you can be" (The U.S. Army)
Not since a finger-pointing Uncle Sam said he wanted YOU had an Army recruitment ad been so effective. These '80s commercials made life in the military seem more like an adventure than something that required you to put your life on the line, especially with the U.S. Army's tagline, "Be all that you can be." In six simple words, the Army made people feel compelled to live up to their potential and strive for something better. And for more on this iconic decade, here are 25 Reasons We're Glad We Grew Up in the '80s.
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