Throwback Thursday: this 1985 commercial for Alka Seltzer Plus!

This commercial came up in a conversation today with a friend of mine. I’m honestly not sure why I remember it after 35 years. Part of it is the last guy interviewed in the 30-second ad, and his unusual sentence construction — it’s a linguistic idiosyncrasy I’ve occasionally heard in movies or on TV, but never in real life. It’s just gotta come from a regional dialect somewhere. (The man’s name was Linwood Workman, which unconsciously suggested to others throughout his life that he was a reliable man to hire, I’m sure.)

But I might remember this ad well just because it seemed so weird and campy to me at age 13, when it aired constantly. Ads aimed at my age group made products seem cool and exciting, or maybe just farcically zany. (Consider the Spuds MacKenzie ad campaign, for example.) Ads aimed at adults were strangely cornball stuff. What was the angle here? Were adults meant to trust these people because they were relatable or special? My town had only one professional fisherman (who, coincidentally, was also my science teacher, my part-time employer and a really cool guy. SHOUT OUT TO MR. TSCHIEMBER!) But were small-town New England fisherman especially trustworthy about which cold medicines should we buy? Why?

You could argue that this was a very effective ad, because I remember it after 35 years. You know what, though? I’ve never purchased Alka Seltzer Plus in my life. Maybe I’m just a cynic where fishermen are concerned.


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