Adwatch: Citroen C3 - 'Happy days'

In 1976 the number-one rated show on US TV was the sitcom Happy Days. Who would have thought that, 21 years after the sun went down on the show in 1984, it would hit the number-one spot in advertising, having featured in an execution for the Citroen C3.

It may be harder to become the number-one rated television show in the US than to top the Adwatch poll, but to have more than two decades between the two achievements is exceptional.

The phrase timeless appeal springs to mind, or should I say nostalgic appeal, because that is exactly what the original show traded on, brilliantly portraying Milwaukee in the 50s to an audience watching in the 70s. But, then, who wanted to think about the now back then, at a time of recession and a bloody war in Vietnam?

The reason the show has hit the top again is probably not far from the reason it was popular in the first place. This time, though, we have fallen for the way it brilliantly portrays the 50s through the kitsch lens of the 70s. The C3 ad tells us we are in the age of being nostalgic about nostalgia.

This is not the first time nostalgia has been traded on. Remakes of 70s TV shows have been the mainstay of Hollywood comedies for years. Happy Days itself had its cool cachet boosted when Spike Jonze set a video for the band Weezer in Arnold's diner.

But the show would have bombed if it had not been for one character - Arthur Fonzarelli, otherwise known as Fonzie.

He was the epitome of reassuring cool with his trademark thumbs-up gesture and signature 'aaayh'; let's turn a blind eye to the fact that his 'office' was a toilet cubicle.

The Fonz had a magical quality and iconic coolness similar to James Dean. Like Dean, he was vulnerable, but he also had something the film star did not - wisdom. He was always to be found dispensing advice to Richie and Potsy in a sage-like way.

This ad is not particularly original; the use of classic film and shows is as old as Fonzie himself (42ish). The most recent examples were VW with Gene Kelly and Ford with Steve McQueen. But it doesn't make it any less popular - aaayh.


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