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Seven forgotten drinks ads starring Hollywood A-listers

Not all adverts wear well with age, and some deserve to be forgotten. But as this collection of celebrity-laden classics prove, starring the likes of Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Swayze and Bruce Willis, many deserve to be remembered simply for their ‘so bad it’s good’ appeal.

Patrick Swayze starts in a 1979 ad for Pabst Blue Ribbon

On their rise to the top, few actors, however big they become, refrain completely from taking up the offer of a lucrative endorsement deal.

Bruce Willis took up with Seagrams in the 1980s to produce a number of entertaining adverts that scream the decade, while Jeff Goldblum offered his dry wit and quirky humour to help Holsten Pils boost its sales in the early 1990s.

While some adverts stand the test of time (Rutger Hauer’s Guinness advert is still compelling) many can become an embarrassing blip better forgotten.

Here, we have rounded up a collection of the biggest names to have graced our television screens from the 1970s to the early 1990s in the pursuit of promoting any number of alcoholic beverages – from Japanese lager to Golden Wine Coolers.

Click through for a look at some of the best retro drinks ads…

Have we missed any? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

(1994) Jeff Goldblum – Holsten Pils

The one and only Jeff Goldblum starred in a series of adverts for Holsten Pils throughout the 1990s. Fresh from his success in The Fly, Goldblum’s quirky character suited the off-beat adverts perfectly. The brand launched in the UK in 1952 and enjoyed strong success during the 80s and early 90s, but sales dropped significantly after it was manoeuvred out of the spotlight by brands including Budweiser, Becks, Stella Artois and Kronenbourg. Carlsberg later bought the Holsten brand for £719m in 2004. This year the brand re-launched the brand with a new look and name: Holsten EDEL. Remaining true to its taste and recipe, it’s hoped the new look will help the brand to attract younger consumers. 

(1994) Harrison Ford – Kirin Lager Beer

During the 1990s Harrison Ford lent his image of the Japanese beer producer Kirin, promoting its Kirin Lager beer in a series of adverts aired in the country. Kirin Lager Beer is one of the most popular beer brands in Japan, as well as the oldest, having started brewing in 1888. We aren’t sure what is being said in this advert, and we aren’t sure Harrison Ford knows either. It’s a long way from the Death Star, but an entertaining interlude in his career nonetheless.

(1980) Orson Welles – Paul Masson Wines

Orson Welles famously fronted a series of adverts for Paul Masson Wines in the states throughout the 1970s, which were best known for their slogan “we will sell no wine before its time”. The adverts ran until 1981, when Welles was sacked from the role and replaced by English actor Sir John Gielgud, who together with Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier, dominated the British stage for much of the 20th century. It was speculated that Welles was fired after making disparaging remarks about his employer on a chat show, while it was also well reported that Welles’ weight was becoming an issue for the brand.

(1987) Bruce Willis – Seagrams

Hollywood actor Bruce Willis starred in this sensational advert for Seagrams in 1987, promoting its Golden Wine Coolers alongside the slogan “this is where the fun starts” – dancing, skipping down a street and twirling around a street light. Spring-boarding off his success in Moonlighting, Willis starred in the adverts for two years, with this one airing just one year before Willis became a household name with the release of Die Hard. He ended his contract with the drinks producer that same year after giving up drinking. Seagram’s meanwhile, once the largest distiller of alcoholic beverages in the world, was split up and sold to The Coca-Cola Company, Diageo, and Pernod Ricard.

(1987-1994) Rutger Hauer – Guinness Draught

Blade Runner’s Rutger Hauer starred in a series of ominous adverts for Guinness that ran for 27 years, from 1987 to 1994, called The Man with the Guinness. The campaign was launched to refresh the brand and reposition it as something other than an ‘old man’s drink’, and proved hugely successful. The campaign came to an end in 1994.

Today, Guinness continues to make waves in the advertising world, most recently releasing its ‘Made of More’ campaign which tells of a group of real-life men who raise and ride horses in Compton, California, near LA, having turned their back on gang violence. “We are proud to celebrate the ‘Compton Cowboys’ in our new campaign, a group of people who have made a bold and unexpected choice to live a different life,” said Duncan Elliott, marketing director at Guinness. “Through their love and devotion to their horses and each other, they are a source of inspiration and a cause for hope within their local community.”

(1976) Sir Arthur “Peter Cook” Streeb-Greebling and Dudley Moore – Guinness

Another advert for Guinness, which preceded Rutger’s reign, was fronted by Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling – a fictional character played by British comedian Peter Cook – and Dudley Moore. The pair were best known for their television series Not Only… But Also, with Moore best known for his roles in Foul Play (1978), 10 (1979) and Arthur (1981). For Arthur, Moore was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and won a Golden Globe Award.

(1979) Patrick Swayze – Pabst Blue Ribbon

And finally, we come to this gem from 1979 starring Patrick Swayze, who, still a decade before Dirty Dancing, starred in an ad for Pabst Blue Ribbon that featured disco hits from the Bee Gees and a fresh-faced young Swayze strutting his stuff on the dance floor. Pabst Brewing Company was founded in 1844 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is known for brands including Colt 45, Milwaukee and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

In 2014 the Pabst Brewing Company was sold to the newly formed Blue Ribbon – a company formed by beer entrepreneur Eugene Kashper and the San Francisco-based TSG Consumer Partners LLC. Kashper also owns Oasis Beverages – Russia’s largest independent brewer and distributes international brands, including Heineken, in Russia and Eastern Europe.

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