Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Flash Gordon and Rocket Fresh Rainier
My boss coined the word “Beercentennial” to mark the occasion verbally--America’s Bicentennial was still, er, Fresh in the minds of folks--and we dreamed up television ads that touched on the past, present, and (possible) future of the popular beer. (I was writer/producer for the firm that provided all creative work for the brewery.)
Rainier had a reputation for presenting strange and surprising, tongue-in-cheek and amusing, commercials back then--still a rarity back in those stolid Seventies. But the requisite seriousness of such a major benchmark for Rainier actually constrained our much-vaunted creativity. Blowing the frothy heads off a tray of poured beers was about as wild as we got... except for the "future" spot, which evolved gradually from a single sci-fi parody to a 30-second extravaganza that borrowed
Our commercial ended up inside the bizarre Star Wars bar, where the camera discovers a big reunion in progress for the Flash Gordon characters—Dr. Zarkov, the lovely Dale, Ming the Merciless, and so on, plus (renamed for ad purposes) “Fresh” himself. But this reunion is occurring many years later, with the characters showing their post-retirement age.
Most of the parts were taken by local actors, but we actually hired the original movie Flash, Buster Crabbe (famous as a handsome, virile Tarzan too), still showing serious star power at age 72 (as I recall). Crabbe was serendipitously the main guest that year at a nicely timed Seattle science fiction convention, and we were happy to use his accessibility to our advantage.
So a comics shop owner and I did just that, printed 2000 or so, and over the next year-and-some sold all of them, to sci-fi fanatics and Rainier collectors and specialty poster shops. Now, skip ahead 35 years. Searching through stuff recently, before wife Sandra and I left on vacation, I found the copy of “our” poster that I’d kept as a sample/souvenir.
I decided to write a blog post around it, and that’s what you’ve been reading. (Used to caption the poster, that tiny print you can’t make out in the lower right-hand corner was meant to sound like pulp magazine copy.)
Retro rockets firing, Fresh Gordon jockeyed his MFR-80 spaceship down onto the arid, dusty surface of planet Bungo.
Then, aided by his thirsty companions of so many years, Fresh broke through the belligerent throng of alien vizki and d’jin, forging a path straight to the barren
Even Bing the Brewless was overcome. “The Beer That Conquered the Galaxy” soon quenched five more parched throats.
Classy, huh? Oh yeah, I really thought I was hot stuff back in the day…