Mama Mia that's a ballsy rip-off ...

Those who don't know their history are condemned to repeat it.

But repeat it this well? This is a carbon-copy of the idea - with herring instead of meatballs.

Two quicktime films are waiting for you to click "read more.."

In a land far away called Adland, there was once a brand called Alka-seltzer, who dared to hire the best agency in the world at the height of the creative revolution. Their ads and approaches were so new, fresh and different. Their myth building brand power so great, that they ended up in history books like "The 100 Best TV Commercials . . . and Why They Worked." written by famous historians Kanner & Conrad. Though Kanner voiced concern about it's brand building power - "People thought it was for spaghetti sauce and Alka-Seltzer sales slumped."

In any case, the 1960s spicy meatball advert is still hailed as one of the best ads ever, though my favorite Alka Seltzer ad is the prison one. The prisoners rhythmically slam their metal cups to the tables after their shoddy prison meal, chanting "Alka Seltzer.. Alka Seltzer.. Alka Seltzer.." Is that branding enough for you?

Lets watch this Bernbach beauty, shall we? Click the play button on the film below please.

Mama Mia That's a Spicy Meatball.

Mama Mia, thats a funny ad. Gotta love the way mama Italia gets the same exact pose right for every shot, hands clasped together just right. Heck it's a darn good ad for it's product, still today.

To prove we bring in our Swedish contender.

Ah, herring, lovely herring. It just isn't summer without the herring, the golden beer and the ultra-chilled snaps, in that order and large quantities, please. The accordion is optional.
Clicka da play button again.. doop de doop.

Sillen från Tjörn

ad fetched with the help of Kenneth Pilo over at the Swedish ad-site 99reklam.

Such copious amounts of herring will give a worse tummy ache than a few Italian spicy meatballs, trust me.
"sillen från tjörn e go'...sillen från tjörn.." I have to admit that the tune is annoyingly catchy and hilariously performed. It sticks to the brain so badly, that Niclas Strandh at 99reklam already suggested that some herring-factory should start selling "Sillen från tjörn" branded herring. Perhaps like its predecessor it will sell more herring than Inside Brus, a brand so unknown that I'm pretty sure it's nearest Swedish brand competitor, Samarin, is getting the brand credit for this one in the punters minds.

Is this a case of demo-love where the demo happened to be a classic ads reel? Who knows, maybe they never even heard of the Doyle Dane Bernbach ad, such things can happen you know.

*cough* hack! *cough*. I have no idea if this homage was intentional or not, us mere mortals do not know how the idea God works. Have I ever wanted to scream hack at the top of my lungs it's right now though, so cover your ears.

Comments (14)

  • Dabitch's picture

    ah, Now we know whodunnit It is Palladium Reklambyrå in Stockholm who made the advert, they proudly display the Inside Brus film in their latest news section.

    With thanks to mr Pilo again who figured that one out.

    Aug 04, 2003
  • Pilo's picture

    Aah, I have asked the agency to comment on this one. Still no reply ;)

    Aug 06, 2003
  • Dabitch's picture

    Maybe they only have balls sometimes? Temp-balls?

    Aug 12, 2003
  • Andreas-Udd's picture

    This is truly sad. Truly Truly sad sad sad. If they didn't know the previous ad, they are just HACKS (screams at the top of my lungs)

    Aug 18, 2003
  • Robblink's picture

    I'm sorry, but regardless if the agency created this commercial as a homage or not, it's not good to re-create an advertising classic. If they created the commercial out of ignorance, they should have done some research before going ahead with it. You'd think an ad geek in the agency would've told them about Alka Seltzer.

    If you're going to steal, at least steal something from another industry.

    Great badland article though!

    Jul 30, 2003
  • CaptainBOB's picture

    As soon as I saw the "Sillen från tjörn" on TV I wanted to find out who made it and call them just to let them know that they didn't get away with it! I couldn't believe how they completely regurgitated the spicy meatball (ooh that turned out sounding rather icky) with a swedish twist.

    Jul 30, 2003
  • AnonymousCoward's picture
    AnonymousCoward (not verified)

    From another industry such as cartoons? I haven't seen anyone in the U.S. talk about the Cannes Outdoor Grand Prix, a blatant rip-off of a Far Side cartoon.

    Jul 30, 2003
  • Dabitch's picture

    CaptainBOB, you know that I wouldn't let them get away with it. ;))
    Most interesting is that I've called the Inside Brus people and they won't tell me who the agency is. Hmmm.....

    Aug 01, 2003
  • Neo's picture

    twin ads.

    I've been meaning to ask, are the new ads (with the new agency) any good?

    Jan 14, 2009
  • Dabitch's picture

    No they're just an updated "plopp plopp fizz fizz" demo with people dropping the product into the glass, explaining it relieves a headache & tummyache. I suspect that the ad buyers of this brand are terrible and need to be shown prior work to even be able to understand what can be done, and that's how this ad ended up being.

    It's not always the agencies fault, you know. Demo love kills.

    Jun 26, 2014

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about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.