Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The History of English Cricket Advertising Part 2 - The 1980s

Something I should have said in my introductory post yesterday is that I think these ads give an interesting kind of alternative visual history to cricket and the way it is consumed. They also provide an insight into the hierarchy of cricket stardom and  the trajectory of certain high-profile careers. 

As far as the English game is concerned, I love the way that ads, for instance, have so often sought to capitalise on and leverage off the honour of the English Test captaincy, which obviously passed from hand to hand with alarming regularity in certain eras. The 80s is no exception, as you'll see below.

1980 - Glenn Turner & Dennis Amiss for Arcass
I have a kind of incurable fetish for obscure and exotic cricket helmets of days gone by (see me at the twitter hashtag #helmettalk for more of this nonsense) so this one jumped out at me. If you were putting that thing on to face Michael Holding in 1980, were you not a little bit concerned that that perspex would shatter into blade-like pieces against your face? Looks NQR to me.

1980 - Bukta Sportswear featuring John Arlott
Bukta and John Arlott are two names we don't hear enough these days. If you're going for a text-based slogan, advertising stooges, this is the kind of gear we're after. It's a bit corny but there are no puns and it shows at least a modicum of cricket knowledge. 

1980 - County Cricket Equipment
There is no possible risk of being done for false advertising with this approach. Minimal to the point of mild autism.

1980 - Geoffrey Boycott for Slazenger
This is perhaps an exception to the "no Puns" rule; if the player featured in the ad is suitably iconic, go for your life. I had to stitch two scans together for this one, hence the crease. And anyway, if you can any complaints, seriously, you're even sadder than me.

1980 - Derek Randall for Gunn & Moore
If you have a printable story of "scoring with" Derek Randall, leave it in the comments section and I'll have my girlfriend make a lawyers call on whether it stays or goes. 

1980 - Graham Gooch for Cotton Oxford
Before there was the Nike Air Jordan there was the Graham Gooch Cotton Oxford. Are any of my readers still getting around in a pair of these? If so, photos to me or it never happened.

1980 - David Gower for Gray Nicolls
Gower Power! YES YES YES! In all seriousness, if a psychiatrist was to show a patient just that portrait of Dave in isolation, without the text, what are the chances that their word association would be "Power"? As a percentage, would it be higher or lower than Matt Prior's Ashes batting average?

1980 - The Jack Birkenshaw Cricket Shirt
I've genuinely got no idea how this didn't reach the iconic status of the Fred Perry polo or the Greg Chappell hat.

1980 - The John Edrich Bowling Machine
"Down at the John Edrich Bowling Machine factory, we're re-purposing all manner of medieval weaponry into cricket coaching aids. Call by and take a look at our range." Seriously, I swear I saw one of these in the background of a Game of Thrones episode.

1980 - Ian Botham for Lyle & Scott
The ideal polo shirt for standing around at one of Beefy's BBQ's and ceaselessly talking about yourself.

1980 - Viv Richards and Ian Botham for Nike
If you put Viv in your ad, I'm all in. Just a minor spoiler alert though; Viv does not stay loyal to Phil Knight, as you'll see later on.

1980 - Richard Ellison for Romida Sports
Everyone knows that a sound cricket business plan needs a couple of fundamental things: piles of willow and an awkwardly grinning English swing-bowler.

1980 - Ian Botham for SAAB
If Beefy was a car, would he really be a SAAB? I feel like this is an ill-fitting vehicle for Sir Ian Barbecue. But what would be more fitting? A Hummer? It would have to be fitted with an obscenely loud horn, whatever it was.

1981 - Ray Illingworth for County Turf
What an unfortunate gust of wind. Ray Illingworth would be gutted with that, I reckon.

1981 - Geoffrey Boycott and The Daily Mirror
This was surely a convivial high point of Boycott's relationship with Fleet Street, right? When newspapers are taking out ads of support for you, I think it's time to start taking stock of your karma points and expect the worst.

1981 - Floodlit Cricket
1981 doesn't sound like that long ago, but this is a good example of the kind of cricketing innovations we take for granted. Imagine a time when floodlights were a novelty...and when cricket was being played on Stamford Bridge. Mental.

1981 - Fosters Ashes
This is less a piece of advertising and more an accurate representation of Kim Hughes' best friend on the 1981 Ashes tour.

1981 - Gavaskar Cricket Boots
Perfect for walking all over people, kicking up a fuss or staging walk-offs.

Sorry, I'm shooting fish in a barrel here, I know.

1981 - Gunn & Moore Galaxy
The two main things I love about this ad: (1) The "Galaxy" allusion to interplanetary/space travel, and (2) that they've gone with the cross-section technical diagram. Completely unnecessary and naff, but awesome at the same time.

1981 - Holt Products Trophy 
Cricket history is a rich mine of brilliantly awful trophies. I really need to do a post just on them (remember that Elephant one Australia won for an ODI series in South Africa?). This fits into that category. I'm not even going to elaborate on what it looks like to me.

1981 - Graham Gooch for Essex/Jockey
Sometimes I'm completely stumped as to why non cricket fans have a view of the game as dowdy and boring. Then I look at images like this...

1981 - John Snow Travel
I genuinely believe that John Snow wrote this ad himself. If not, everyone involved needs to be fired. I think he missed a trick too: surely with a name like Snow you'd be angling at the lucrative skiing holiday market?

1981 - K cricket! game with Richard Hadlee and Bob Woolmer
This one didn't make it's way to Australian shores so I am going to have to trust the judgement of UK readers to confirm that it is inferior to cricket's Hall of Fame board game, 'Test Match'.

1981 - Kentalong Caricature Prints
The kid in this photo looks pretty stoked to be having his caricature signed by Bob Woolmer, but to be honest, I can't take my eyes off the majesty of that English cable-knit sweater. Of all the ills that have befallen cricket in the last decade; that abomination of an English Test pullover must be more galling. To me, anyway.

1981 - Prestel Cricket
Next time you're complaining about TV cricket coverage that is coming to you live via satellite, pause and think about a time when we were thrilled to just see a primitive scorecard on our screens. Actually, because I am a very sad individual, Ceefax features prominently in my good memories of my time living in England.

1981 - Prudential 
Most early 90s advertising is actually more 80s than the 80s was, and likewise, early 80s stuff can look very 70s in aesthetic. In this case, I think that's actually a good thing.

1981 - Bob Woolmer for Readersport
While it may challenge for the title of least sexy piece of advertising ever, this is actually a completely accurate representation of the life of Readersport's target market and thus brilliant. It reminds me of the mixture of groans and catch-up chatter that characterizes pre-season indoor training sessions.

1981 - David Gower for Sondico Sport
I really wasn't sure on the quality of these cricket balls until I saw one chopped in half.

1981 - Ted Dexter for James Hughes, Tailor of Sussex
Always admired Ted Dexter's peerless SWAG.

1982 - Ian Botham for SAAB
Okay, I'm breaking the "no puns" rule for a second time here, this is actually pretty brilliant. I have a photo somewhere of Botham having nearly written off one of these company cars. I wonder how many he went through.

1982 - David Gower for Colt Lancer
If this car actually still exists, I want to buy it. I'm not kidding. Imagine the literally tens of your acquaintances it would impress.

1982 - Geoffrey Boycott for GOLA
The further and further I got into my magazine collection, the more insane I found it that so many cricketers have had their own shoe line. These ones look quite uncomfortable though, don't they?

1982 - Gray Nicolls Scoop
Is there any one cricket brand of the last fifty years that's more iconic than the Gray Nicolls Scoop? I can't think of one. Keeping it simple with this ad and why wouldn't you when you were promoting the coolest bat on the market?

1982 - Godfrey Evans for Gordon's Gin
Another bizarre cricket trophy but also some of the best facial hair in cricket history. Gin does seem a fairly appropriate fit for a wicket-keeping award though, I cannot fault them on that.

1982 - The Husky Cricketer
A classic case of someone trying to reinvent the wheel and falling well short. I mean quilted nylon? Would any cricketer ever wear that thing? It's clearly the inventor in the ad too, bless him; no-one else wanted a bar of this one.

1982 - John Arlott LPs and Cassettes
Charity shops throw up some interesting finds in the records section from time to time, but it would make the day of any cricket fan to come across this one. I'd find it hard not to give it a spin at parties.

1982 - John Player League
Just going back to helmet-talk for a minute, I like the Robocop chic of this one. I think it's just the photo making it look opaque but I find it hard not to imagine that this is a batting robot, born to destroy bowling attacks.

1982 - Litesome Cricket Clothing
Saturday Afternoon Fever.

1982 - Bob Taylor for Mitre
The thought that the equipment shown here could give you an unfair advantage is a classic case of a product looking retrospectively hilarious and out-dated, like the computers used by Sandra Bullock in The Net.

1982 - Barry Wood for Niagara
"Not bad for a 39-year-old."

Geez Baz, with friends like those, who needs enemies right?

1982 - Follow England in Australia with Mike Denness and Bob Simpson
Surely if the 1970s told us anything, it's that you've got to be wary following Mike Denness to Australia. I like that in the 80s these tours involved actually playing games of cricket. One look at Thomo's tour group during this 2013 Ashes series would suggest they'd need to have a defibrillator on hand for that kind of physical exertion, and that would just be to wake Thomo up at his seat. 

1983 - Ian Botham for Duncan Fearnley
Say what you like about Beefy, god knows Ian Chappell does, but there's no denying the bad-arse appeal of playing a reverse-sweep in your ads. Extra points for batting in a long-sleeve sweater sans headwear. No spot-fixing bookie would even attempt to make that happen during an international match these days, it's too far-fetched. 

Actually they totally would, wouldn't they?

1983 - Natwest
Okay, it's Pun O'Clock again. 

1984 - Richie Benaud On Reflection
I mostly avoided ads for books because I will cover them in some form at a later date, but I enjoyed this one. Richie looks like he's up to something slightly dodgy. Did Daphne take the photo? It's Richie set to "seductive", for sure.

1984 - Derek Randall for Gunn & Moore
"Hand shaped gloves for hand shapes hands"? That cliche of 1980s advertising executive being drug-abusers with ponytails is probably not entirely accurate, but output like this hardly refutes it. Randall actually looks a bit like he's partaken himself with that grin, no?

1984 - David Gower for Scholl
There is something a bit Alan Partridge about signing an endorsement deal with Scholl. It's a brand I've literally never discussed with anyone other than my parents. Actually, my Mum loves David Gower...

Marketing genius.

1984 - Ian Botham for SAAB
Again, fair play to Beefy for letting them use an image like this in an ad. If this photo became a marketing go-to, David Warner wouldn't even need to turn up for the IPL to be cashing massive cheques.

1984 - Larry Gomes and Gordon Greenidge for Symonds
I could try and come up with an elaborate explanation for including this, but sometimes you just want to have a photo of Larry Gomes on your blog. This is a non-judgement zone.

1984 - Viv Richards for Duncan Fearnley
Viv's defection from Stuart Surridge to Duncan Fearnley probably didn't have a great deal of impact on his ability to obliterate a bowling attack, but I still think he looked way cooler wielding the SS Jumbo.

1984 - Bob Willis for the Wisden Cricket Monthly Wine Club
'You were the tall, leggy blonde walking away at a brisk pace, I was the pompous, beady-eyed gent offering you a second glass of Cabernet.'

1985 - Duncan Fearnley
Half the BATtle! Get it? Because it's a bat, and the letters in 'bat' are also in the word 'battle'.

Congratulations, you now have an honorary advertising doctorate.

1985 - David Gower for Gray Nicolls
"England's captain leads the way...for now."

1985 - Mike Gatting for Readersport
"Meet 3 great performers - Mike Gatting and his balls."

1985 - Bob Taylor, Martin Crowe & Chris Cowdrey for Mitre
Mitre were tickled pink to beat out the hordes of rivals for Chris Cowdrey's signature. Pretty sure he's still lining his pillows with 'shoe money'.

1985 - Texaco Cricket
I'm a sucker for any ad with romantic cricket imagery and there is non better than the change-room montage. Love those timber veneer walls, too.

1985 - Allan Border Ashes Sweater
This one was ideal to keep warm during frosty silences and while receiving the cold shoulder. 

1985 - Mohammad Azharuddin for Symonds 
This is where we apply the OJ Simpson rule of retrospectively cringeworthy endorsement deals. If Symonds were still a brand, you'd have to think this poster would be gathering dust in the storage shed.

1987 - Viv Richards for Bukta
When you look at this, you really have to make the choice not to ponder how many runs Viv has scored in his game of 'pocket cricket', don't you? On a more general level, I just like to imagine that he's on the way to a "white party" with Andy Roberts and Gordon Greenidge in this photo.

1987 - Cornhill Insurance Test Series
Nothing screams "team unity" like this photo. Cheers Goochy, appreciate your assistance there mate.

1987 - The Captain's Choice
'The Gunn & Moore Poisoned Chalice"

1987 - The Gray Nicolls Dynadrive
Just like the year 1996 conjures an image of Ricky Ponting's terrible goatee, the Gray Nicolls Dynadrive is just pure 1987. Us Aussies didn't have the Union Jack on ours though, obviously.

1987 - Malcolm Marshall and Martin Crowe for Mitre
I guess the people at Mitre would say "it was a different time in the 80s, you see." But it wasn't and people were clearly appalled enough by this ad for the back-tracking follow-up to occur in the next month's issue of Wisden Cricket Monthly.

1987 - Allan Lamb and Viv Richards for Slazenger
Smokey and Lambo? I feel like we've wandered back into Beefy's BBQ again...

1987 - Chris Cowdrey for Stuart Canvas Products
If you have an interesting anecdote about buying pitch covers from Chris Cowdrey, feel free to hit the comments section.

1987 - Symonds Cricket Bats
This is proper 1980s ad, this one. Steve Waugh in that rugby-style 'World Championship of Cricket' shirt, John Emburey, terrible typography; I love it!

1987 - Viv Richards for Slazenger

1988 - Allan Lamb for Concorde
I'm no aviation historian, but can we attribute any blame for the demise of the Concorde program to Allan Lamb. Was this the beginning of the end?

1988 - Allan Lamb and Viv Richards for Slazenger
"Thanks guys, I'm rapt to be endorsing this V12 bat, I mean, that's bigger than a V6 and a V8, right? That's literally taking it PAST eleven. Can't wait to pick up my bats. Oh, what is Viv's bat going to be called?"

"Errrr.....we haven't decided yet."

1988 - Richie Richardson and Graham Gooch for Stuart Surridge
1980s cricket nirvana.

1988 - Chris Cowdrey, John Carr, Phil Carrick & Abdul Qadir for Zenith Cricket
What an assortment of cricket luminaries. Bar Abdul Qadir, I'd imagine that the deal made with these players was more of a "discount" arrangement than a sponsorship per se.

1989 - Cornhill Test Series
For England, it definitely needed more of these. And possibly some petrol.

1989 - David Gower for KangaRoos
"I'm tempted to say, how can you have a clash of cultures when you're playing against a country with no culture? That would almost be sledging."

1989 - Tim Rice for Gunn & Moore
"When only the best stereotypes of cricket as a game for aristocratic fops will do."

1989 - Merv Hughes for XXXX
The English were not immune to Merv-mania. In fact it's arguable that if anything, they were even more nuts for him than Aussies.

1989 - Younis Ahmed and Graham Roope for General Portfolio
No matter how dodgy a financial planning business looked, I'm pretty sure they'd be able to swindle me within minutes if they sent out some b-grade professional cricketers to get my signature.

1989 - Keith Arthurton for Stuart Surridge 
Let's be honest, if you're putting up a 1980s cricket blog post, you may as well finish it with a photo of a West Indies cricketer. 


  1. Its about time someone paid tribute to the greatness that was Chris Cowdrey.

  2. Amongst the many highlights of this post, surely kangaROOS can be officially declared one of the worst footwear brands ever.

    1. I remember reading on one of those sneaker blog things (don't judge) that they were briefly but significantly popular in the US. Pretty naff to wear them as an Aussie though.

  3. Have just LOLed my way hard through your post - compelling from end to end - more for highly amusing commentary, and not the ads per se.
    Prestel Cricket = ad for the internet.
    Colt Lancer? I used to have one. A total shitbox.
    Fascinating lexicon of days gone by: 39 year old Barry Wood discussing "his spectators".
    And - weirder still- advertising of "leg guards" - even into the 80's...

    Nice to read both posts - piss funny. Thanks.

    1. Also loved the "spectators" line. The whole ad was a bit of a back-hander.

  4. GOWER POWER partly explains his comments on fracking earlier in the series.

    Oh, and there's a reason Roy & HG used to refer to Richie Benaud as Mr Sex.

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  7. I love the early Viv Richards Nike one if only for the fact that the small text seems to show that an ex Microsoft CEO seems to have been hawking footwear in the north east of England- who knew?!

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