Thursday, July 16, 2009

Finnish Shell TV Commercials from the 60s and 70s


Shell: Lentävä maailma ("Shell: The Flying World", early 70s)

Early 70s(?)

"Shellistä!" Finnish Shell TV commercials of the 1960s and 70s featured the immemorable voiceovers by Kaj Gahnström, in his ultra-masculine growling bass, which used to scare the TV-watching children all over the country. Also the top model Seija Tyni appeared as the "Shell Super Girl" in these stylish clips (created by the advertising agency SEK with Crea-Filmi), which can these days seen as a sort of pop art typical of its era: pre-energy crisis and less "politically correct" (using women as sexist props in commercials, the subsequent boycotts against Shell).

Seija Tyni, as the "Supergirl", soon became associated with Shell as a product personalization, being presented as a modern action character influenced by James Bond and Modesty Blaise, and was seen in different roles in each spot: being a boxer, a soldier, a rally driver, a karate player, etc. In the 1967 Shell sunglasses campaign Tyni's Supergirl appeared as

"a teacher, sitting behind the teacher's desk and looking down at the watch she wears on a chain around her neck. The loud tick-tock of an old grandfather's clock is heard in the background. Then suddenly the school bell rings. The unmistakable, very low bass voice of the narrator [Gahnström] (voice-over was an organic element in Shell Finland's commercials until the 1990s and was imitated in numerous contemporary commercials): 'Suddenly it is 3 p.m. Polarized sunglasses. Now for 12:80. They change your whole world. For a special price. At Shell.' [This sort of "clipped" telegram style was typical of Shell's advertisement lingo. -pH] During the speak, the Supergirl removes her spectacles and puts the sunglasses on. At that same instant her hair falls down and the topknot hairdo changes into a glamorous coiffure. The last scene shows a race car curving away on an icy road."

(Visa Heinonen, Jukka Kortti & Mika Pantzar: "How Lifestyle Products Became Rooted in the Finnish Consumer Market - Domestication of Jeans, Chewing Gum, Sunglasses and Cigarettes", 2003, PDF)

Paying tribute, Ilppo Pohjola used Gahnström's growling voice (and also some female models fashioned after these old TV commercials) in his experimental short film Asphalto (1998).

  • Shell: mainoskirja (PDF)

    More old Finnish TV commercials:

  • Tuttu TV:stä
  • Tätä ei voi olla

  • Finnish TV Commercials Nostalgia (Februry 2007)
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