Wednesday, February 8, 2012

David Bowie got me Hooked on Coffee

posted by Steve

In 1984, I was a student at Cal Arts.  I stayed up late a lot - sometimes all night - working on my student films.  So did my classmates -most of them, anyway.  And when I think back at those times what amazes me is that I did not drink coffee.  Ever.

One night, while watching TV in the dorms with Tim Hauser and the gang, an ad came on aimed right between our eyes.  A man's voice bombastically declared, "YOU are the New American Society.  The movers.  The shakers.  YOU are the NEW Coffee Generation!"  As the man spoke, Jeff Lynne sang "Hold on tiiiiiight - to your dream. Ooooooh yeah....".  This was edited to short, MTV-style clips of celebrities.  There was David Bowie - HUGE in '84.  And the Wilson sisters from Heart. And Kurt Vonnegut, my favorite author of all time. And Ken Anderson the NFL quarterback, not the Disney artist.  And Cecily Tyson the actress, who purred, "...because coffee is the calm moment that lets you think.  Coffee gives you the time to dream it, then you're ready to do it!"  

The dorm gang gave little thought to the commercial except for Tim, who jumped up indignantly (or was he going for more wine?) and said, "They're trying to get our generation hooked on caffein!  That's disgusting!"

Tim was right!  The National Coffee Association sponsored the ad to change the image of coffee from that nasty shit your parents drink at breakfast to a lifestyle accessory for hip and happening young people of the 1980's.  A mere ten years later, Starbucks was everywhere.

We should have taken the ad as a cue.  We should have seen the potential business opportunity in catering to a New Coffee Generation.  We could have been bazillionaires.  But we were animation students, dreaming of Disney glory.  "Hold on tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.............TO  YOUR DREAM!."

Today, it takes two cups just to leave the house, then a third to nurse through the morning at work. To quote Kurt Vonnegut, "Poot te-tweet!"
Cecily Tyson: Actress / Coffee Pusher

Here's another commercial, where Heart uses coffee to mix a new hit.  "Go on and set your coffee mugs on the control board, gals, we don't mind."   

Tim Hauser commented:

LOL! -- Tim Hauser: mad prophet of the dorms! Thanks for the memory!!!!

(BTW -- "Caffeine" needs an "e" at the end).