Twenty four years ago, the Sizzler restaurant chain came out with a new ad campaign that — thanks to the magic of YouTube — is trending on Facebook now. Watch it. It’s something else.
Aside from the sailor needing a haircut, to get his hands out of his pockets, and to find the undershirt he obviously lost while out on liberty with that young lady, there is a lot to love about the ad. It screams wholesome American values. It’s heavy on the baseball and apple pie imagery that are our nation’s clichés, but it started me wondering if such a thing is even possible today.
The ad’s themes are freedom, individual liberty, choice, and quality of personal experience. Was it really only so few years ago that these concepts were considered advertising gold rather than nostalgic kitsch ? Would a business in today’s America think freedom and choice were the buzzwords to attract customers, or would those words only conjure up images of the growing social chasms among the citizens? Burger King once proclaimed you could “have it your way,” and Sizzler sold itself as providing “a little freedom in your life,” but I cannot imagine such language being taken seriously in our nation where rights — even the right to be wrong — seem to disappear faster than the fried shrimp at a buffet.