From the Gobbledok to Not Happy Jan: how well do you remember classic Australian ads?

It is a scientific fact that if you play Gheorghe Zamfir’s pan flute theme from Picnic at Hanging Rock around any Australian of a certain age, they will probably ask if you, too, can smell Nescafe Blend 43 before they ever yell “Miranda!”.

Such is the power of a well-tuned ad campaign: there are catchphrases, lyrics, jingles and jokes embedded deep in the psyche of a nation, buried in the unconscious in the days when the whole family would gather around a chunky cathode-ray tube TV to catch the Saturday night movie.

Ever since Bruce Gyngell uttered those immortal words – “Good evening, and welcome to television” – whether we like it or not, there are ads that have become part of our collective identity.

If you’ve ever asked yourself “Why can I remember the Dick Smith ‘phone zone’ rap but not my my loved ones’ birthdates?” (just me?), your time has come. No prizes for top scores, but you just might find a fellow viewer in the comments to try out your most obscure “Does anyone remember that ad…?” upon.

1.Since 1988, beloved actress Paula Duncan has been panicking about impending visitors to her grubby house, only to be saved at the last moment by a cleaning spray. Which of the following was NOT a scenario that required an immediate cleaning frenzy in a Spray N’ Wipe ad?

2.Launching in 1992, Nescafe’s iconic “Valley” campaign ran for years, and featured the tale of a city woman who moved to a bucolic country town, falling in love with the local shopkeeper – all over copious cups of Blend 43, of course. What were the instant-coffee-crossed lovers’ names?

3.In the year 2000, the phrase “Not happy, Jan!” entered the Australian lexicon. What had Jan done to invoke the ire of her boss?

4.In 1987, Smiths Chips introduced a creepy little character called the Gobbledok (from Planet Dok, a giant potato in the sky) who loved to steal “chippies”. What was his origin story?

5.In 1981, the Cancer Council Victoria launched its “Slip-Slop-Slap” campaign, which commanded Aussies to Slip on a shirt, Slop on sunscreen, and Slap on a hat on sunny days to reduce their risk of skin cancer, and went on to become a national mantra. What was the name of the accompanying cartoon character?

6.In 1990, future Oscar nominee Naomi Watts played a young office worker who wins then gives up a date with a celebrity because “Mum’s cooking a lamb roast” that night. Who was the unlucky fella?

7.In 2000, HBA harnessed the power of cute kids to advertise their insurance policies. Which of the following did NOT happen (according to him) to the kid who encountered a crocodile?

8.In 2003, a disembodied tongue escaped its owner’s mouth to the tune of Benny Benassi’s Satisfaction and went searching for a Toohey’s Extra Dry beer, revolting the nation.

True or false: in 2012, “Tongue” was announced as the most complained-about ad of the decade.

9.Beginning in 1968, Victoria Bitter’s “Big Cold Beer” campaign has presented a variety of ways that one might “get it” (“it” being “a hard-earned thirst”). Which of the following is NOT a real bit of VB poetry?

10.Launching in 1993, Diarmid Heidenreich won the hearts of the nation’s kids, stoners and mums as Dougie, the Pizza Hut delivery guy. In a fourth-wall-breaking 1996 ad that rivals Marvel’s most ambitious crossover events, Dougie enters his restaurant and encounters another iconic Australian ad personality: who was it?

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