For years, the canary-coloured classified doorstop was plugged on the telly with the slogan ‘let your fingers do the walking’, while a none-more-cheap actor’s hand sis exactly that over a copy in close-up, to the strains of a catchy jingle that sounded uncannily like Yellow River by Christie. This wasn’t deemed sophisticated enough for the ’80s, though, and so it was all change with a series of mini-dramas all revolving round the desperate need for a reliable commercial phone directory. JR Hartley’s epic quest for a copy of Fly Fishing largely overshadowed the rest of Yellow Pages’ bid to convince us they weren’t just there for the nasty things in life. But there were other ads, like the kid searching for the R186 signal box, the Hitchcockian twist being that it wasn’t for him, but his model railway enthusiast dad, Colin ‘Mr’ Bennett. And then there was the impressively eyebrowed teenager (played by Simon Schatzberger, fact fans) groggily awakening in the aftermath of a massive party (‘Who are you?’/‘Who are you? And who’s . . . she?’) only to discover someone had scratched the coffee table, prompting him to thumb through Good Old Yellow Pages to locate a French polisher before his parents returned from holiday. Meanwhile, David ‘Science Workshop’ Hargreaves turned up as a bloke seemingly poised to heartlessly pension off faithful old gardener Ted, only to be leafing through the ‘Pages to order a new ride-on lawnmower, while Kevin Webster’s dad off of Coronation Street tracked down a racing bike (‘I were right about that saddle!’) for his teenage son. Interestingly enough, all these ads still ended with a snatch of that original Yellow River-alike refrain, albeit now tastefully parped through an oboe.
Y is for…
The world of tinned meat has made few lasting inroads into popular culture, but Yeoman’s range of stewing steak, chilli con carne and hotpots available at the flick of a tin-opener made a lasting impression on the populace with its solemn quality promise. “No lumps of fat or gristle – guaranteed!” Proclaimed an authoritative voice, while a big hand rubber stamped the deal over the screen – which makes it legally binding, doesn’t it? When stout Yeoman changed their name to the flimsy Tyne Brand during the 1980s, they did at least keep the slogan going for a while, up until the point when the lack of gristle in food ceased to be a sign of quality and became more of a minimum legal requirement.
TV CREAM SAYS: FAT'S THE WAY TO DO IT!
Yugoslavia’s answer to the Fiat 125 started appearing in British forecourts in the late 1970s alongside classics of Euro-tinniness the Lada Riva and Skoda Estelle. Most famously flogged in the UK via Swithland Motors, who went all-out with a TV campaign featuring Samantha Fox in the regulation tight-fitting T-shirt stiltedly enthusing about her brand new and reasonably priced Yugo hatchback to hapless, Morris Traveller-driving, Open University lecturer-resembling no-mark neighbour Wally. Swithland collapsed in 1993 after a massive fraud scheme was uncovered, but the Yugo itself continued until 2008, thus outlasting its namesake country of original by nearly two decades.