Coppertone, Corona, Dairy Queen: What says “summer” to you?
Whether it’s the Memorial Day holiday, the more-legit-but-less-recognized Summer Solstice, or—the best indicator of all—Summer Fridays in the office, there’s no doubt that summer is here. For some, the season means BBQs, bikinis and Hamptons traffic. For me, summer evokes memories of my youth, and those memories tend to be tied to very specific brands.
Starting when I was about 5 or 6, my grandparents would take me down to the beach at Coney Island every summer. It was basically a right-of-passage growing up as a first-generation “Long Island Jew” whose parents were part of the great Brooklyn migration. Every morning, my grandpa would plop me down on a folding chair and my grandma would slather me with Coppertone sunscreen. I remember staring at that cute little girl and her dog as I was rubbed head-to-toe by my zaftig over-protector. To this day, even though the branding has changed, Coppertone makes me think of those summers with my grandparents, and it brings a smile to my face.
When I entered elementary school, my world revolved around Topps baseball cards. Hopping into my mom’s Chevy Caprice Classic station wagon (sitting in the opposite direction in the “back back,” of course), driving down to the local pharmacy and buying new packs was the epitome of excitement. Yes, the smell of the gum was enticing, but knowing I had new ammunition for the hours of flipping with Stu Motola, Greg Dreilinger and the Bloom brothers at school the next day was what really got me pumped. I’m not sure if was just a Northeast thing, but if you know what “five LSD” or “no Larrys” means, you too were a flipper.
As I got a little older and started earning an allowance (basically a bribe to eat my vegetables, do my homework and not beat up my little sisters), nothing made me happier than hearing the melodious sirens call that was the Ice Cream Man. In early June, the Pied Piper of Bomb Pops would cruise the mean streets of Dix Hills in his white chariot with Good Humor logos adorning its sides, looking for kids dying to spend their hard-earned bounty on a strawberry shortcake, a chocolate éclair or toasted almond ice cream bar. Whenever I hear the sound of little bells chiming, I think about those times and that brand always comes to mind.
Now, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I think this way—I am in the image business, after all. But it made me wonder: what other brands or iconography say “summer” to people like me, people with titles like Producer or Creative Director? There was only one way to find out. I reached out to a few friends in the biz and asked.
“Maybe because I like beaches and beer, Corona has always been one of my favorite campaigns. The creative is a mostly based on beautiful beaches. But every time you see that quiet beach and the back of a beach-goers head, you immediately know it’s Corona.
Another marker of summer for me is getting back into my flip-flops. My favorite brand is Havaianas. I’ve been wearing this brand for probably 15 years. I love their colorful marketing and always love seeing what creative they roll out each summer.”
Owner and Executive Producer
“Every year, in late spring, I’d walk to school waiting for a Blizzard! No, not from the sky. My winters and springs were spent waiting for the local Dairy Queen to open. The commercials would start up in late April or May. The images I would see—Mr. Misty Freezes, soft ice cream cones with the hard chocolate coating, banana splits—all said summer. The best was opening day, walking up to the iconic red and white DQ “barn.” I knew it would be burgers, fries, milkshakes and ice cream, all through the simmering summer, taking away any thoughts of books, teachers and ringing school bells for three joyous months.”
VP of On-Air
“When you talk about icons of summer, the Olympic Games must be at the top of the list. It’s the comet of sports that only comes around every four years. Where else can you a find dressage rider standing next to a dream teamer? For two and a half weeks we must get our fix of the mainstream and obscure competitions that bring the world together. Plus, the level of video production adds a layer of beauty that heightens the tension and drama surrounding every event.”
Executive Creative Director
FCB, New York
“For me, summer has officially arrived when my friend Stew, a New Yorker who relocated to Phoenix a decade ago, calls to remind me that the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is about to begin on ESPN. An icon needs to represent something much larger than itself—and it’s inarguable that a Nathan’s hot dog (or 60) eaten on a beach adjacent to a greased-up rollercoaster connects us back to some idealistic, more innocent version of ourselves. It’s summer in a nutshell—or rather, a bun.”
Taking it back to my youth one more time, there was a old commercial jingle that was, in my opinion, quintessentially summer. It went like this: “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.”
After thinking about what says summer to me, and then hearing from my brothers and sisters in arms, if I were to create a new jingle, it would go something like this: “Nathan’s, ice cream, Dairy Queen and baseball cards. Cerveza, sun screen, flip-flops and Olympic rings.”
Not quite as catchy, I know. Anybody know a good copywriter?