Probably the most famous home entertainment advertisement of all time was for Maxell cassette tape. The image of the guy sitting in the easy chair being literally blown away by the sound from the speaker in front of him is indelibly planted in the mind of so many.
It's an iconic image. Part of it has to do with it being in black and white. Black and white images tend to remain classic and timeless. Roger Ebert talks of how much better black and white is compared to color in his recent autobiography. "Take a picture of your grandparents, probably taken in black and white, and put it next to a picture of your parents probably taken in color. The picture of your grandparents will probably seem timeless, the one of your parents will probably seem goofy."
Here's what wikipedia has to say about the ad.
In the 1980s, Maxell became an icon of pop culture when it produced advertisements popularly known as "Blown Away Guy" for its line of audio cassettes. The original campaign began as a trade ad in 1980 and was made into TV spots in 1979 which ran throughout the 1980s. Steve Steigman was the photographer and Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" was used for music. In the UK the music used was "Night on Bald Mountain" by Modest Mussorgsky.
The ads depict a man sitting low in a (Le Corbusier) high armed chair (on the right side of the screen) in front of, and facing, a JBL L100 speaker (the left side of the screen). His hair and necktie, along with the lampshade to the man's right and the martini glass on the low table to the man's left, are being blown back by the tremendous sound from speakers in front of him — supposedly due to the audio accuracy of Maxell's product. He is shown desperately clinging to the armrests but defiantly looking ahead at the source of the music through sunglasses, though calmly catching his drink before it slides off the end table. Television commercials showed the chair, a drink and nearby lamp, being pushed away from the stereo by the strong force of the sound waves. The image became the de facto standard of those who believed their stereo equipment had sufficient power or accuracy to move the mind and the soul. The model for the UK (not US) ad campaign was musician Peter Murphy of the group Bauhaus. The model for the US campaign, however, was the makeup artist hired for the shoot by photographer Steve Steigman. The impact of the advertising campaign on popular culture still resonates today: "Blown Away Guy" was recently parodied on the popular animated television show Family Guy in the episode "Model Misbehavior". This is only the most recent in countless parodies over the years, which includes a parody in the John Ritter film Stay Tuned, (which featured a character's head being blown off by a "Max-Hell" tape). In the 2010 movie Jackass 3D, the commercial is parodied with Ryan Dunn sitting in the chair, while the blast from a jet engine sends the set blowing away.
The original soundtrack of the first TV ad read, "After 500 plays, Maxell still delivers high fidelity." This durability and quality message did not have the staying power of the "blow away" image, which still lives today.
On December 12, 2005, Maxell decided to bring "Blown Away Guy" back due to its popularity. As Maxell now makes blank DVDs and CDs, headphones, speakers, and blank audio and video tape, the ads have been updated with photos of iPods and accessories underneath the image. "Get blown away" is the headline while copy urges consumers to use Maxell accessories to "make your small iPod sound like a huge audio system."
I never knew the model for the UK version was Peter Murphy. I didn't even know there were two different versions. Here's that version which is not nearly as dramtatic as the American ad.
Here's the more familiar US version.
A framed copy of it hangs on the back wall of my office and can be seen in webcam shots of me, like my Facebook profile. Another copy is tacked up to the wall of my son's room. So, yeah, I can relate to the image.
Here we have the print ad for it.
Here's the TV spot.
And, finally, there are countless homages to the iconic picture. Here's a few of them.
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