When we got the Toshiba account, we found the main reason people weren’t buying them was the name.
To English ears, all the Japanese/Korean brands sounded the same.
A sort of mish-mash of oriental sounds “Aka-wara-tora-ichi-uji-itsibushi”.
So how could we separate Toshiba off from the rest?
How could we get it into the language?
Well “Tosh’ was a friendly expression that grownups used when they ruffled the hair of children.
So we put that together with Alexei Sayle’s song ‘Hello John Gotta New Motor” and changed it to “Hello Tosh Gotta Toshiba”.
But research said Alexei’s voice was too shrill.
We needed something softer and warmer to contrast the visual of a robotic blueprint man.
I’d never met Ian Dury, but I really liked his voice.
He sounded like a big friendly cockney bear.
He agreed to do it and we met for the first time at the recording studio.
Ian hadn’t done any adverts before, and he was a bit suspicious of advertising types.
He thought they were all flash toffs who drove Ferraris, wore Rolexes, and used long words to blag gullible people.
But when we got talking he gradually loosened up a bit.
First he found out I was from Barking, not far from Upminster where he was from.
He said Barking was a rough area because he remembered reading about a Teddy Boy who’d been stabbed to death there in a fight, when he was a boy.
I said yes, that was my mate’s big brother.
He was inside, doing 25 years for it.
So when Ian could see I wasn’t a flash toff, he relaxed a bit.
Then, when Ian found out I’d been to art school like him, he relaxed even more.
He said he’d done his foundation year at West Ham Tech.
I’d done foundation, again not far away, at East Ham Tech.
On Ian’s foundation course with him was Viv Stanshall, who later formed The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
A lot of people from that course ended up at The Royal College.
One of Ian’s most influential teachers was Peter Blake, one of the founders of Pop Art.
But Peter Blake is probably more famous for doing the cover of The Beatle’s ‘Sergeant Pepper’ album.
I always thought, if you look at Peter Blake’s art and listen to Ian Dury’s, or Viv Stanshall’s songs, you can see the similarity in what they’re doing.
They’re using different mediums but the style and content is the same.
But then I think that’s true of art and music generally.
Rococo, Neo-Classicism, Romanticism, are all parallel art and music movements.
Right up to Modern Art and Modern Jazz.
And even Abstract Expressionism and Free Form Jazz.
Anyway, we got on so well I asked Ian if he wanted to pop over to the house at Christmas for a drink.
On Boxing Day, Ian tipped up absolutely rat-arsed.
He sat in the front room and started rolling a joint.
Normally this wouldn’t have been a problem, but I had my family staying with me for Christmas.
So, sitting in the front room, was my mum (think of Irene Handel), my Uncle Harry (think Alf Garnett), my big sister Shirley, and my brother-in-law Jerry, both from New York.
Plus my wife Cathy, and my kids Jade and Lee.
None of these are used to your standard rock-star behaviour.
So I said, “Look Ian, it’ll be much easier to roll a joint on the kitchen table.”
And I quickly ushered him out of the front room and into the kitchen.
While he sat there in the kitchen struggling to put a spliff together the front doorbell rang.
I answered it and it was Peter Cook and his new wife.
Peter is famous as the father of modern satirical comedy, and was a bit of a wild man himself when he was younger.
But on this occasion Peter had just come back from his honeymoon.
He and his new wife were feeling very happy and loved-up.
So everyone was on their best behaviour.
I tried to get them into the front room to meet the family.
But a deep cockney voice yelled from the kitchen, “OI. COOKIE.”
Peter and his wife looked into the kitchen.
In a variety of accents Ian started shouting, “Peter fucking Cook,,,,..,,, Peter fucking Cook,,,,,,, Peter fucking Cook..…Peter fucking Cook,,,,,,,…. Peter fucking Cook,,,,,,,… Peter fucking Cook,,,,…,,, Peter fucking Cook,,,,…,,, Peter fucking Cook,,,,,,,. Peter fucking Cook,,,,, Peter fucking Cook,,,,.,, Peter fucking Cook,,.,,,,, Peter fucking Cook,,,,,,.., Peter fucking Cook,,,,,…,, Peter fucking Cook,,,,,,, Peter fucking Cook,,,,,,,…”
(Those of you that have heard the ‘Derek and Clive’ album will get the reference.)
This went on for about 10 minutes and, inside Ian’s head, it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard.
The trouble was everybody else, especially my family, wasn’t inside Ian’s head.
And they’d never heard ‘Derek and Clive’, so they didn’t get the amusing reference.
After a massively frosty reception, Ian decided this wasn’t going to be a rock and roll party after all, and I managed to bundle him into a cab.
I said to Peter Cook, “I’m sorry Peter, I’ve never seen Ian that pissed before.”
Peter said, “I’ve never seen anyone that pissed before.”
But I always liked Ian’s outrageous behaviour.
I loved the way he always wanted to get into trouble.
To find out what he wasn’t allowed to do, and do it.
Ian had polio when he was young.
This left him crippled for life, with a partially withered arm and leg.
Two ways you can go in this situation.
You either let your life be about feeling sorry for yourself, and why did it have to happen to you, it’s so unfair.
Or you get in everyone’s face about it and start taking the piss.
Ian chose the latter.
He always referred to himself as “a raspberry”.
This is cockney rhyming slang for “raspberry ripple” or cripple.
This is what you learn growing up in a tough environment.
To take the piss out of yourself first, and better than anyone else can.
That way you win because you’re faster and funnier.
Which is why Ian wrote the song “Spasticus Autisticus” all about spastics (or ‘raspberries’).
The term ‘spastic’ had become a pejorative, and was even shortened to ‘spazz’ as in “Don’t be a spazz.”
Ian decided to go exactly the other way and celebrate it with an anthem would catch on with everyone.
Of course the BBC banned it.
Which was exactly what he wanted.
To stick two fingers up to the establishment meant that a ‘raspberry’ could be as outrageous and rebellious as anyone.
With one song he almost made disability cool.
I liked Ian’s attitude so much we even used one of his songs on the agency answer-phone.
You know when you phone a company and the switchboard operator puts you on hold.
You normally get a bland repetitive piece of music, like Pachebel’s Canon.
We put Ian Dury’s “Fucking Ada” on ours.
When the operator put you on hold, you’d hear a heavenly choir singing over and over again….
“Fucking Ada……..Fucking Ada…….Fucking Ada…….Fucking Ada………Fucking Ada…….Fucking Ada…..….Fucking Ada…….Fucking Ada….Fucking Ada….Fucking Ada…….Fucking Ada…….Fucking Ada…. Fucking Ada…….Fucking Ada…….Fucking Ada……. Fucking Ada…….
………Fucking Ada…….Fucking Ada…….”
Which, I reckon, is pretty much what everyone feels like when they’re put on hold.