• Cate Blanchett appeared in a classic Tim Tam commercial. (YouTube)
Whether they were spruiking chocolate biscuits, international flights or toilet paper, these commercials are hard to forget (no matter how hard you’ve tried).
By
Gavin Scott

30 Oct 2017 - 12:30 PM  UPDATED 30 Oct 2017 - 12:30 PM

If you lived through the ’90s, chances are you watched a lot of television commercials. Yes, most people had VCRs by then, allowing you to fast forward through the ads, but time-shifting and catch-up TV weren’t as all-pervasive as they are now (and those terms didn’t even exist). More often, you’d sit down to watch shows as and when they aired – ads and all.

To cut through the barrage of commercials you were subjected to on commercial TV, an ad had to be memorable. Catchphrases and catchy jingles were more important than ever, and you’re more likely to remember the Chicken Tonight song than anything you learnt at school or work that decade. Indeed, chances are, every single one of these promos will be firmly ingrained in your memory…

 

Spelling it out

Eventually surpassed by 2000’s “Not happy, Jan” commercial, this 1992 Yellow Pages ad gave Australia the catchphrase it never knew it needed in “G-O-G-G-O”. Actor Tommy Dysart also appeared in the “Is Don is good” ads and a commercial for Shannons Insurance in which he raved about his goggomobil.

 

You’re welcome

Just when you thought you’d relegated the Roses jingle to the deepest recesses of your brain, one watch of the chocolate commercial and you’ll be humming “thank you very much, thank you very, very, very, very much” all day – key change and all. Speaking of earworms, I defy you to not sing along to the “Make Your Bodies Sing” ad for bananas.

 

Introducing Natalie Imbruglia

Everybody’s got to start somewhere and like so many other future stars, a pre-Neighbours, pre-“Torn” Natalie Imbruglia first came to fame in a TV ad. She played the waitress, who, despite being whisked away from her mundane existence by a parachuting hunk, could not bring herself to put the damn Twisties down.

 

The biggest waste of three wishes ever

Featuring another soon-to-be star, the original Tim Tam genie in a bottle ad saw a young Cate Blanchett come up with one of the best ideas ever: a packet of Tim Tams that never runs out. Her lunk-headed offsider squandered the other wishes by asking for two more packets in a time when there was only one variety (and not 217 different ones) of the chocolate biscuits.

 

Kmart’s throwback tune

More recently, Kmart has used C+C Music Factory’s ’90s dance classic “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” as the musical backdrop to its TV spots, but in the late ’90s, the department store chain resurrected another smash hit: The Swingers’ chart-topper, “Counting The Beat”.

 

Kiddy choir alert

This stirring, globe-trotting ad featuring the angelic voices of the Australian Girls Choir and the National Boys Choir still brings a lump to the throat all these years later.

 

Being in hospital is awesome!

After seeing this Medibank Private ad, who didn’t want to rush out and get in an accident just so they could have this much fun in hospital? Fact: the “I Feel Better Now” jingle was written and performed by former The Sports frontman Stephen Cummings.  

 

Takes real men to haul a lorry

Quite why the workmen were pulling a massive truck up a hill by a rope was unclear, but there was no mistaking the Hard Yakka campaign's message: our clothes are tough. The jingle was also no fuss but effective.

 

The rains are here!

It also didn’t quite make sense for the kids in this McCain ad to be eating their corn cobs while hanging out the window. Maybe it’s outback etiquette.

 

David is a d***

“Laura Harris isn’t just anybody!” explains drongo David, who'd been forced to eat vegetarian on his date with the unseen object of his affection because she's “into health food”. The joke was, of course, that his favourite cereal, Sultana Bran, is also healthy. Oh, how we laughed.

Also a d***: the “short skirts are back” husband in the Special K ad.

 

Sweet relief

There were more morning hijinks in this Sorbent commercial featuring the kid from Hey Dad..!, who had to hold it in while his selfish family monopolised the bathroom.

 

Then there was:

 

Watch The Nineties on Sunday 5 November at 8:30pm on SBS.

More On The Guide
An ode to Daria: the eye-rolling, sarcasm-spouting hero of '90s teens, both then and now
Did entering the the cynical high schooler's sick, sad world feel like finding your home? You weren't alone.
A tour of Western Europe via dance hits of the 1990s
Just like a Contiki bus trip, but with more bass.