York on Ads / At last] Smelly carpets get their freshness back: No 41: Shake'n'Vac

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The Independent Culture
THE ORIGINAL Seventies Shake'n'Vac commercial was a collected item for years. We savoured it, treasured it, held to our secret hearts the memory of the mad housewife who broke out into a little dance while tipping an absorbent deodorant powder on her smelly carpets. The joy of it was that it seemed like a bit of innocent madness - a naive, low-budget ad, probably originated in America, which accidentally achieved that anachronistic Doris- Day-sings-Chubby-Checker-Songbook quality. It was very dated when it came out. Could it have been deliberate - a pre- packaged cult item, a spoof, or in any way clever? I very much doubt it. That sort of thing was unusual then, particularly in the

marketing department output of Johnson Wax of Racine, Illinois.

The memory was spoilt in the Eighties by endless exposure on what can only be described as the Jonathan Ross circuit. As with Fifties sci-fi B-movies, the pleasure became coarsened, corrupted . . . lost.

Now there's a new series of Shake'n'Vac commercials. Their makers have to deal with following on from a minor-league national joke. Poor things, they've tried to be funny; they've tried to be slightly hip; they've tried to construct a running gag - that Shake'n'Vac makes people think the outdoors is indoors - but they've also played it straight down the line as a Johnson Bros' home-cleaning product with every copy point clearly articulated ('comes in a new range of fragrances'; pastel green container in clear pack shot; product demonstration, etc). So the little story of the dog and his Tommy Cooper- ish owner with the woolly hat who runs around the house to 'do the dog' is a mess. Forget being hip: give us the complete Johnson in-house Shake'n'Vac Procedures Manual, and we might laugh ourselves sick again.

Videos supplied by Tellex Commercials.

(Photographs omitted)

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