It’s the 80s and Max Headroom is Flamboyantly Fighting the Cola Wars

Posted by Michael Pinto on Feb 2, 2009 in Television |

Max Headroom for Coke: A vintage plastic cup and a promotional poster

As a television series Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future was one of my favorite shows from the 80s. Of course the character of Max pre-dates that series — he got his start with a talk show in England in 1985 which in many ways inspired Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. When Coke launched their new formula they made the bold move of picking Max as their spokesperson using the tagline “Catch the Wave!” Folks loved Max but not the new Coke and the old Coke was bought back with the label “Classic Coke” (which was just recently dropped).

What I love about this first commercial from Australia (from 1987) is that’s much more racy than this ad from the States which was made at the same time:

In these two spots from 1986 and 1987 Max Headroom refutes the infamous Pepsi challenge, which on a nerd note was created by John Sculley when he was at Pepsi before he left to become CEO of Apple Computer in 1983:

This spot which was produced a bit later harkened back to Max Headroom’s talk show roots, but with the extra twist of casting him as a gameshow show host:

Of course Max Headroom’s appearance wasn’t just limited to television, Coke made a wide range of goodies from plastic cups to posters to skateboards:

Max Headroom Coke Collectables: A point-of-purchase display and a skateboard!

Catch the Wave!

My special thanks to Todd Franklin from the photo of the Max Headroom cup.

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