Much as I like to consider myself a discerning connoisseur of trashy food, there’s just something not quite right about dehydrated potato granules. I don’t care how much they bang on about the amount of real potato it contains – it the non-real potato part that worries me.
That said, instant potato did give us one of the all-time great TV advertising campaigns, so every cloud and all that.
The Cadbury’s Smash ads date back to the 70s and early 80s.
How do you sell people something that is an inferior, unnatural and, at least in part, an artificial alternative to a staple food that is perfectly wonderful in its original, hydrated form? Well, the sole benefit of Smash instant mashed potato granules over a potato is the convenience, so obviously, we poke good-natured fun at the people foolish enough do all all that tedious, time-consuming peeling, boiling and mashing by hand.
The stroke of genius in the Smash adverts was making those doing the ridiculing robotic martians. If it had been humans laughing at other humans, they would have appeared arrogantly superior and snide. But high-tech, super-efficient aliens, who ARE superior to us, that’s funny.
The martians themselves. though very simplistically designed and operated, looked fantastic and they remain as iconic today as when they first appeared. And as the campaign went on, the adverts generally got more witty as more elements of the Martians’ society were added – even little robot Martian dogs and cats and babies.
Enjoy! And remember – For Mash Get Smaaaaaaaash.
Here’s the ad that started it all:
Here’s one of the best of the later ads:
Here’s a compilation of several of the early Smash ads, including one that pre-dates the Martians, though it retains the outer-space theme:
And finally, here’s a clip from one of those “100 Greatest…” shows on Channel 4, in which the creator of the ads John Webster, who sadly died in 2006, explains their genesis (Webster was prolific in the TV advertising industry – he also created the Sugar Puffs Honey Monster, The Gary Lineker Walkers Crisps ads, and the Kia-Ora “Too Orangey For Crows” ad which was featured on The Choob’s “A word From Our Sponsors” a few weeks ago):