ocean pacific

When people think of eighties, they think of Ocean Pacific (OP)

I don’t think I owned any Ocean Pacific (or OP) clothing when I was a kid. But it was so ubiquitous that I was well aware of it. I even had vague notions of what the brand stood for.

Sunshine. California. Relaxed.

These words still are what come to mind, even though I could barely remember an Ocean Pacific ad campaign. So I went to YouTube to check out what they were like. What I found validates what I think about the brand.

In one amazing commercial, a guy drives his convertible through rugged western terrain at night wearing sunglasses. He pulls the car over and a woman materializes out of thin air and joins him in the car. They then drive through a brightly colored Mtv style world until they come upon a digital billboard.

What is on that billboard? They are! And they are advertising Ocean Pacific.

Not a single word is spoken throughout the commercial. Instead they play this repetitive synthy music.

Needless to say I love this commercial. It is as if a commercial about the eighties took human form. Somehow figured out a way to clone itself. Then those two clones had an offspring. This commercial is that offspring. It does not represent what they eighties were actually like, but it does a great job encapsulating, what people think of when they about the eighties.

So if you need to escape your dreary modern life and want to step back in time. Click the video below. You will instantly be transported to a warm neon digital California. Where everything is possible and yet nothing ever happens.

Watch this amazing eighties commercial for Ocean Pacific

For those not impressed, I would like for you to take a moment and watch a more contemporary commercial for Ocean Pacific (OP) fragrances. It also uses just imagery and music. You tell me, which is more compelling.

A more modern take on Ocean Pacific

Personally I do not find that very compelling, although I was glad to see OP is still mixing it up.

Now to return you to the past here are two more classic OP commercials. Both with very catching jingles.

OP Sunwwear Commercial

“Puttin’ On My O.P.”

I'm too Sexy

“I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred gets used in a commercial

In the early nineties, Right Said Fred and their song, “I’m too Sexy,” were tearing up the charts. The song would make it to number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 13 on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1992. It was a phenomenon and it was hard to turn on a radio without hearing the song. For those not familiar, here is the song in all its glory.

Original 1992 video for “I’m too Sexy” by Right Said Fred

For those curious about the origin of the song.

The idea for the song came about when the Fairbrass brothers were running a gym in London, where according to Richard there was “lots of narcissism and posing”: one day he took his shirt off and started singing “I’m too sexy for my shirt” in front of a mirror as a joke.

I remember hearing this song for the first time after visiting the arcade at the Willowbrook Mall in New Jersey. My friend Kevin was driving me home and this song came on the radio. Kevin was a big fan and he cranked it up to 11. By then of the song, my ears ached and I liked Kevin a whole lot less. More importantly though, the song was stuck in my head.

When people ask me why this song was so popular, I think back to this night. It was a miserable listening experience, but the song was so catchy, I could not stop singing it my head.

I would have plenty of opportunity to learn the lyrics and hear the song again. It was played so often throughout 1992.

When the song started to wain in popularity, which is right about the time my mother discovered it, it appeared in this lipstick commercial for Ultima II and JC Penney. Its is a pretty low concept commercial. A model dances around to the song and you get lots of rapid cuts and some voice over.

Watch the Ultima II/JC Penney “I’m too Sexy” Commercial

No big deal, but this commercial ran in our market for what felt like an entire year. So while Right Said Fred was fading away in the rest of the United States, they were gaining steam in our household. I am pretty sure my Mother even picked up a cassingle of the song during the Christmas season of 1993. I am not sure which of my sister’s bought it for her, but I am sure they got a pretty good deal.

The song would be used in other commercials, TV shows and movies over the years. Yet, it is this throwaway ad for a makeup counter deal at JC Penney that continues to stick with me after all these years.

oatmeal swirlers

I made my own Oatmeal Swirlers

I was a dangerous kid to bring to the supermarket. When new products were advertised on television, I wanted to try them, and was not above begging to get what I wanted. That meant my Mom needed to have a core of iron and patience as deep as the ocean. Both are noble traits, but as an adult I regret how much she had to apply them to something like Oatmeal Swirlers.

Oatmeal Swirlers showed up in the eighties and were discontinued by the nineties. During their run they had a very compelling ad campaign, both on TV and in print. The product was simple, it was oatmeal with an extra packet of delicious fruity sugar or chocolate paste. After your oatmeal was heated in the microwave, you squeeze the packet on to the oatmeal and enjoy. Naturally in the commercials you are also encouraged to have fun with it and make smiley faces or play tic-tac-toe on your oatmeal.

Plus it had the playful fun tagline, “Give it a swirl!”

The one time we actually bought Oatmeal Swirlers, I tried to draw on my oatmeal, but the goo came out messily. So my smiley face looked like the face of a tortured oatmeal homunculus, trying to cling to a life that it knew would be short and painful. By bowl two of the Oatmeal Swirlers, same day as bowl one, I cut out the middle man and just ate the oatmeal with some added sugar and shotgunned the fruity goo into my mouth.

My mother was appalled, not because of my gross eating habit, she knew who I was, but because of how wasteful it was. Oatmeal Swirlers were a lot more expensive than regular oatmeal and I was basically eating it like candy.

So the next trip, when I asked for my Swirlers, she insisted I get standard oatmeal and a jar of strawberry jelly. I whined of course, but relented. In the end it was a much better deal for a sugar fiend like myself.

Instead of a drizzle of sugar paste, I would take huge spoonfuls of jelly and shove it in my oatmeal, until it was more jelly than oatmeal. This too would be short-lived because my Mom thought it was unhealthy for me to eat a jar of jelly in a week. Not what I was hoping for, but it was okay, we still had Hershey’s syrup in the cabinet and I was able put lots of that in my oatmeal for months without her noticing.

Whenever I see a commercial or print ad for Oatmeal Swirlers, I cannot help but think back to my eighties’ winter breakfasts. Of thick strawberry/oatmeal goo that would make your teeth hurt and of a disapproving mother just trying to figure out this mess of a kid she was raising.

This is a great ad, with late eighties sensibilities and the art direction and music are pitch perfect for the era. Enjoy.

Watch this commercial for Oatmeal Swirlers

stay alive

Stay Alive the Board Game

Stay Alive was originally published by Milton Bradley in 1971. The idea of the game is pretty simple. You must “stay alive.” The game consists of a 7×7 grid with random holes and sliders. You place marbles in the sliders in positions that have no holes and then take turns sliding the sliders, hoping that slide your opponent’s marbles into one of the holes.

We had 3 games in my house growing up that two players could play easily. Stay Alive, Stratego and Battleship. Stay Alive was by far the most popular of the three. There was just something satisfying about the tension of the shifting and disappearing marbles. That combined with not needing to be too strategic, made it a perfect game for young people. It also explains why I was into the game much longer than my older sisters.

Another compelling reason to like Stay Alive? This commercials! This one starring Vincent Price is my favorite. Ominous in tone, the commercial is a pitch perfect match for Price and the goal of the game.

Stay Alive the Board Game Commercial with Vincent Price

Another one has a Lord of Flies vibe that is a pretty perfect match for the game as well.

Lord of the Flies Stay Alive Commercial


In 2005, Stay Alive was republished with a smaller board by Winning Moves Games USA. While it was nice to see the game back on the market, I found the smaller size and color scheme of this game reboot off-putting. This version of the game is no longer in production. So if you would like a copy, either 2005 or original recipe, you will need to check out the secondary market.

I encourage you to do so. Let’s face it, sometimes you don’t want to think too much, but still want to play a game. Now you can play a lot of other games, but I doubt they will match the novelty and tension of Stay Alive. Its a simple game, but can be hours of fun for 2-4 people.

You can find it for under $30 (shipping included) on eBay and even cheaper at Flea Markets and Garage Sales.