In my entire life I’m pretty sure I’ve only tried R White’s Lemonade a handful of times, yet if I was asked to name a manufacturer of lemonade I have no doubt it would be the R White’s name that I would mention first.
I’ve really no idea whether R White’s is any better or worse than any other brand of lemonade (though I suspect it is one of the better ones) so why is it that the mention of lemonade instantly conjures up the R White’s name for me? Quite simply, it’s because of the TV advert for it.
The “Secret Lemonade Drinker” ad was first used to advertise R White’s in 1973, and was used until 1984. It featured a man creeping downstairs in his pyjamas in the middle of the night to go and feed his addiction to a certain fizzy lemon flavoured beverage, all played out to a brilliant backing song, which starts off in hushed tones and ends up building to a rock ‘n’ roll crescendo, which wakes up his wife who comes down to investigate.
The song was written and performed by Ross MacManus, with help from his teenage son Declan, who went on to change his name to Elvis Costello and have a successful music career!
Here’s the ad in all it’s now-slightly-faded-looking glory…
After 1984 the original advert was no longer used, but instead there have been several remakes which were almost identical except for the ending, where instead of the man’s wife emerging from behind the fridge, the “secret lemonade drinker” man would close the fridge to reveal a celebrity wearing the wife’s frilly dressing gown and carpet slippers. Funnily enough, most if not all of the chosen celebrities were male, with John McEnroe and Ronnie Corbett certainly being two of them, and I’m pretty sure the late Frankie Howerd was another.
Here’s an example of one of the remakes, which as you’ll see is a very good imitation of the original (except for Ronnie Corbett of course).