Yesterday, The Guardian posted a compilation of their music team’s advertisement earworms that the newspaper’s writers can never be forgotten, for better or for worse. I could not resist contributing an opinion of my own.
Enter: ‘Twenty Four Toasters from Scunthorpe’. This was an extremely irritating advertisement for Mobil and their ‘premier card’. What really does not help is not only how I can’t forget it, but how my family will not let me forget it. When this emerged on UK television in 1993, I was just three years old, so why should I care?
Well, the damage wasn’t done by remembering that era, but by how I used to sing along to it every time that it was on. My family, whether parents, grandparents or cousins, seem to take great pleasure in reminding me of this. With emphasis on the “BAH!” at the end, although my voice at the time functioned better as a dog whistle than it did human communication.
The music is derived from 1960s Gene Pitney hit ‘Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa’, which was a message to his now ex-partner, stating that he had found a new woman: “something happened to me, while I was driving home and I’m not the same anymore”. What was once a reluctant apology on the complexity and potential upset in romance, now sought to ram Mobil’s card scheme down everyone’s throats. If these were the words of Mobil’s nutcase and his abrasive screeching, erratic high kicks and overactive eyebrows, then that might also have made perfect sense. If his sanity had plummeted so low as to be so excited about toasters (to the point that he is going to buy twenty-four of them for his family), I doubt that anybody, whether Pitney or a ballistic businessman, could find their way home. Perhaps that is how he accumulated so many ‘premier points’. He’s been driving around the same roundabout for about the last week.
I don’t know that anybody has yet envisioned Pitney’s exploits with his new woman to be quite so wild. Diamond rings might make sense, and the double beds might not be too out of the question. However, drills and toasters might be a bit of an acquired and painful taste. Perhaps that is why the woman behind the till is so terrified.