They’re the 30-second segments you fast-forwarded through, ignored, or used for a bathroom break, but when you think about it, you know them better than you realize. They are commercials. In this episode, I talk about advertising and commercials that I remember, both fondly and not so fondly. I begin by going over what makes a good and a bad commercial and then make my way through a bunch of commercials that I can’t get out of my head. From cereal to fast food to toys to local car dealerships, it’s so much advertising that it’s … INSANE!
If I were to say “Dr. Pepper commercial,” your first thought would probably be of David Naughton (star of American Werewolf in London and the horribly underrated Midnight Madness) singing “Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?” And that’s understandable because that ad campaign is right up there with the Big Mac ingredients commercial as one of the most memorable of the last 40 years.
But in the early 1990s, Dr. Pepper decided to revamp its image and by creating a sequel of sorts to its iconic “Be a Pepper” campaign. I guess in an age of MTV, the old commercial was too friendly and not aggressive or cool enough, maybe even hokey. So, we got “Just What the Dr. Ordered,” a series of commercials that like most sequels, pales in comparison to the original and has more or less been forgotten by everyone in my generation (except me, of course).
This was in an era where the soda being advertised in commercials seemed to bring about unbridled awesomeness and happiness, and the people who developed “Just What the Dr. Ordered” decided to find someone cool and awesome to lead us to the caffeinated promised land. The guy they hired was some random dude wearing a white T-shirt and jeans who sang about the ills of the world and how Dr. Pepper cures them. He was basic, he had common sense, and he knew exactly what to do. His name is Terry Gatens (thanks to Patty, who commented below and is Terry’s sister), and over the course of four commercials from about 1990-1992, Dr. Pepper made him go out of his way to get more cool points than Fonzie ever dreamed of having. If I had to name the guy he’s playing in the commercials, it would be Nick (because Nick’s a real name. Nick’s your buddy. Nick’s the kind of guy you can trust, the kind of guy you can drink a beer with, the kind of guy who doesn’t mind if you puke in his car, Nick! … Oh, vomit. I’m sorry. Vomit.) but I don’t want to confuse the two people reading this, so I’ll call him Dr. Pepper Guy II, or DPII (out of respect for David Naughton, the original recipe Dr. Pepper Guy). I don’t know the order in which these commercials aired, either, so I’m listing them in rank of DPII’s awesome effect on the world.