Walking into an obscure Cairo supermarket, I glanced at the chocolate section and did a double-take.
A row of Gersy chocolates innocently sat alongside modern-day counterparts, seemingly camouflaging itself as a regular snack rather than its true identity: an unlocked memory of a childhood song that would end up stuck in my head for a week after.
Even though the creators of Gersy had no access to today’s array of targeted online marketing tools and analytics, they managed to ensure that any Egyptian who watched their TV commercial could recite it perfectly more than three decades later – a feat that is quite impressive in the cutthroat advertising industry.
Children of the 80s and 90s might remember anxiously waiting for these catchy – and oftentimes strange – TV commercials to end so they could continue watching cartoons like Captain Maged or Bakkar. Today, however, those same children have grown into adults who enjoy watching these commercials for a chance to sing along to their catchy jingles once again.
Dressing up the actors in cat costumes was a bold decision, and the connection between the costumes, lyrics, and the product itself is yet to be understood. The lyrics chocolata Gersy wakla el gaw roughly translate to “Gersy chocolate is all the rage,” which was true since it was dubbed the cheaper local version of Cadbury’s Bounty chocolate.
One of the catchiest songs on this list, the Crystal Oil song finds its way back into the brains of 80s and 90s children during the most random and inopportune moments. It can be aptly described like a mental screensaver that activates itself whenever one’s brain should be focused on something else, like a high school exam, for example.
Used as ammunition against any Egyptian man named Mahmoud, this commercial did the impressive job of popularizing itself among children who weren’t even old enough to purchase its products. It is unclear how it obtained this popularity so quickly: was it due to the simplicity of the five-word lyrics or the use of the name Mahmoud?
The Amigo light-up shoes commercial was extremely popular and must have gotten a lot of traction among young Egyptian boys who wanted to walk into a room and have everyone exclaim: Meen da? The sequence of events does not make sense because no one can see your heels when you first walk into the room, but the commercial’s stylist gets bonus points for effort.
If you remember the old Chicken Tikka logo with the smiling chef, you definitely remember the commercial’s song, which became incredibly popular in Egypt even though it was in English. Perhaps it was the actor’s infectious smile that further added to the commercial’s charm.
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