27 September 2016

The grunge ads from the 90s you need to see again

[guitar screeching]

[A]dvertising has been leveraging counter-culture for ages. Signalling the ultimate bastardisation of anti-establishment aesthetics, stealing the sights and sounds of subculture is apparently a sure fire way to sell you soda/denim/cars/beer.

Morally these four videos are trash, but they look great and satisfy your need for 90s televisual nostalgia. Enjoy?

Levi’s by Michel Gondry

Using anthropomorphic rats to sell jeans must have been a hard sell, but then again it was the 90s, where most things were allowed to slide. Michel Gondry, the director behind Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, created this flawless piece of 90s consumerist counterculture with a creepy suggestive ending too.

Playstation by David Lynch

So if you agree to hire David Lynch to direct your PS2 commercial, you surely can’t expect it to have anything remotely connected to a playstation in it. “Do kids still like Twin Peaks?” you can hear the fat cats at Sony say, as they scratch their heads wondering how to market the best-selling console of all time to a generation of teenagers. It’s Lynhcian as hell, and you can even see a shadow of Agent Dale Cooper at 00:41, just before the duck starts talking.

Surge Soda

Surge Soda was marketed as a more “extreme” version of Mountain Dew, targeted at snowboarders, wrestling practitioners and Limp Bizkit fans. Anyway, check out how hardcore these straight-edge kids are as they scramble over street furniture for a sweet sip of artifically-flavoured citrusy glucose syrup.


Mixing Inception with Wayne’s World, this ad for Pioneer car stereos fused the grunge/stoner aesthetics in a way that only an ad exec entirely removed from youth culture could manage. It looks great, though. And the dude’s apology is kinda funny.

Bud Light

In the commercial that almost certainly marked the end of grunge (it aired between 1993-97), this horrific 31 seconds of seamless marketeering cast people that look loosely like Nirvana groupies and featured a guy in a cardigan singing the words Bud Light in the style of a weak Pearl Jam B-side. None of this is good.