Seahawks. Broncos. Joe Namath's fur coat. There was plenty to argue about over Sunday's Super Bowl. But the one thing everyone can agree on is that RadioShack scored huge with its 30-second spot, "The Phone Call," chockablock with pop-culture icons of the '80s.
The hilarious trip down memory lane — set to the tune of Loverboy's "Working for the Weekend" — featured a motley crew of celebs (both real and fictional) who invade an "old RadioShack" to reclaim some of their decade's old-school relics. After they clean out the store (and escape in a DeLorean!), a spiffy modern RadioShack emerges.
RadioShack also released a longer version online:
But was everyone in the ad the real deal? On first watch we were pretty sure that wasn't Michael J. Fox in his "Teen Wolf" guise, but it certainly did seem like the real Dee Snider, Erik Estrada, and Mary Lou Retton.
So we here at Yahoo TV tracked down Jennifer Warren, RadioShack's senior vice president and chief marketing officer, who broke down the ad and gave us the inside details on how it all came together. "From a strategy perspective we wanted a cross-section of people who were at the top of their game in the '80s," she explains.
"We just started throwing names out in our brainstorming sessions, and we came up with a list of 50 or 60 people and then categorized them and went after our favorites at first. We had a fun debate over those who some of us either knew or didn't know. And we ultimately decided that it would be fun for folks to sit around at a Super Bowl party and talk about recognizing their favorites or learn about those they didn't already know. We all were cheering as the names came in and people started to accept our invitation."
It wasn't easy to coordinate everyone's schedules. The shoot only began to take shape over the holidays and took three days because RadioShack wanted to record a whole series of spots along with a ton of behind-the-scenes content to roll out over social media. "A lot of these celebs changed their plans to make things work," Warren says.
Here is the who's-who guide to the ad.
Hulk Hogan: Yep, that was the Hulkster himself. The WWE star is quite prolific on Twitter, and he was active Sunday tweeting and re-tweeting about the ad.
"I think it's cool that RadioShack is reinventing itself," Hulk say of the campaign. "I saw ALF and he made my day."
Sgt. Slaughter: The WWE Hall of Famer (back then with the WWF and AWA) and former Hulk rival, who also became an animated G.I. Joe character, was indeed playing himself in the ad as well. The Sarge (real name Robert Remus) also tweeted about the campaign.
Check out this supplemental ad from the campaign featuring Slaughter and Hulk going at it:
[Related: How Radio Shack Plans to Rescue Itself From Irrelevance]
Mary Lou Retton: The 1984 Olympics gold medal gymnast appeared complete with a wig of her trademark '80s hairstyle! "I've never run away from the idea of spoofing myself," she explains in the behind-the-scenes video, below, that RadioShack provided to Yahoo TV. "I jump at the opportunity to make fun of myself … I think this is a brilliant campaign." That sure was some thrifty five-finger work she did escaping with all those VHS players!
Dee Snider: That was the actual Twisted Sister frontman, with his hair and sense of humor intact.
We especially loved this behind-the-scenes pic he took with Sgt. Slaughter:
Erik Estrada: The "CHiPs" star was a one-man Twitter promotional machine Sunday. He even gave a shout-out to his commercial co-stars. Now if he'd only arrest Peyton Manning for that Super Bowl performance.
Kid 'n Play: The old-school rappers and "House Party" stars (aka Christopher Martin and Christopher Reid) were back in business "rollin'" again. We sense a comeback for the flattop hairdo!
John Ratzenberger (Cliff Clavin from "Cheers"): America's favorite brewski-loving mailman (and former "Dancing With the Stars" hoofer) was back delivering the laughs.
Devo: The alt band was represented with their trademark red hats, but no, those weren't the actual band members. "The production licensed the Devo hats and cast actors to play the band from the '80s," RadioShack explains.
Slim Goodbody: The most obscure character in the commercial, the Superhero of Health (real name: John Burstein), was back in action (in his original suit!) from his days on "Captain Kangaroo." This ad is his first introduction to a good section of America's population.
ALF: This has been a huge week for fictional '80s sitcom star ALF (Alien Life Form, for those under 30) — first with his Delta in-flight video and now this! ALF is the creation of puppeteer Paul Fusco who was on set recreating his famous furry friend. "That was in fact Paul," Warren says. "And he had us falling out of our chairs laughing. The humor he brought to the shoot was amazing. He was such a pleasure to have on set."
Teen Wolf: As mentioned earlier, this was certainly not Michael J. Fox reprising his role from his hit 1985 film (currently re-imagined as a hit series on MTV). An actor named Matt Emig was the shaggy dude it the 'Shack spot.
Chucky: The murderous doll that fueled thousands of '80s children's nightmares was officially licensed courtesy of Universal Studios.
Bubo the Owl from original "Clash of the Titans": The mechanical owl was one of the campiest parts of one of the decade's campiest films. And RadioShack had the original Bubo shipped from England for the shoot. He came with two handlers and was filmed, and then his eyes were later CGI animated.
The California Raisins: The Claymation R&B singing fruit (which actually released albums) best known for their cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" haven't been seen or heard from in years… until now.
Jason Voorhees (from the "Friday the 13th" movies): The hockey-masked horror movies fixture has been played by many actors over the course of the franchise. RadioShack's Jason was played by actor Benjamin Bayouth — the grandson of Ted White, who played Jason in "Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter."
"Solid Gold" dancer: This was probably the hardest character for most watchers to identify, but the girl in the black leotard with the high hair was supposed to be a "Solid Gold" dancer, alas played by an actress.
Slimer (from "Ghostbusters"): Bill Murray's favorite hot-dog guzzling green ghost appeared courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
Q*Bert: Only appearing in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment of the extended version of the spot, the video game character (who had a supporting role in last year's Disney hit "Wreck-It Ralph") also appeared courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
The RadioShack ad is one part of a larger rebranding effort by the company, which also includes a "totally rad" '80s-related #InWithTheNew Twitter campaign launching Monday with '80's-themed prizes ranging from a Cabbage Patch doll to a 1987 Porsche 924S.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Dee Snider
- Hulk Hogan
- Super Bowl
- Erik Estrada