A1 Steak Sauce, which first reached American shores in the late 19th Century, has become a restaurant staple. The surprisingly addictive brown sludge–which contains among other ingredients: dates, vinegar, mango chutney and apples– can be found next to the napkin dispenser on grimy tables across this great land.
Although there are certainly better steak sauces on the market, the fact that every year steaks are covered in enough A1 to fill Lake Superior is evidence of the regard in which the food-like product is held. Despite having all the flavor subtlety of a semi careening through the living room wall, A1 doesn’t suck.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for A1’s commercials. For over twenty years the company’s executives have been greenlighting commercials which could not possibly appeal to any sort of discerning taste. Marketing a mid-range product to a host of desperate hut-dwellers is not unlike pushing Showtime on a Cinemax audience–they’re just not ready for it.
This first commercial highlights A1’s apparent target audience: the shapeless ignoramus. A1 presents as a virtue the protagonist’s unfathomable stupidity in addition to his complete disregard for his own safety, when at the end he asks about the welfare of a steak which will never cross his lips.
In the sauce giant’s most recent campaign, A1 juxtaposes images of Meatloaf, the grotesque singing oddity of yesteryear, and meatloaf, the meat-based comestible. This apparently in the mistaken belief that watching a lumpy has-been grunt over his meat before lip-synching to a mangled version of one of his few hits will be in any way appetizing to all but the most lonely fetishists.
As we have seen, A1 now focuses a significant portion of its advertising on individuals with aberrant personalities. But what about the truly damaged? A1 especially wants them. Witness this appeal not only to dangerous sociopaths, but the victims upon whom they prey who refuse to see themselves as anything but helpless. Enjoy!
In this A1 offering from yesteryear, one family’s creepy uncle (and Dick Cavett doppelgänger) ruins yet another get-together when he becomes orgasmic over A1: My dear nephew, what is hamburger–chopped ham? NO! It’s chopped steak. And what’s better on steak than . . . A1? This occasion marked the last time that Uncle Chester was asked over to the house. Not because he was giddy for steak sauce, but because of the way his hands always seemed to linger too long on Joey.
A1 boasts that it was originally the condiment of kings, and would have consumers believe that a little bit of that royal awesomeness can still be found within each and every bottle of A1. However, their advertising speaks to a completely different class of person, one which shares a single characteristic with the 19th Century European Royalty for whom the sauce was concocted, an appreciation for sexual congress between first cousins.
Although this last commercial cannot truly be counted among the A1 Canon, if it were, it would be under the heading “Commercials We Like.”