Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, August 29, 2021

cold soberloaded
Who knew that the well-known sea shanty “What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor?” was “closely associated with football”? That’s the story out of Toyota and ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, when they got some flack for using a tune about drunkenness to sell cars.

From the New York Times‘ Stuart Elliott, in his weekly email newsletter:

According to Wade Hoyt, Northeast public affairs manager for Toyota Motor Sales USA, part of Toyota Motor of Japan, the company and agency know the tune by the title “A Golden Boy Again,” under which they licensed it from N.F.L. Films.

“It’s used on ESPN and in the John Madden video games and is said to be closely associated with football,” Mr. Hoyt says, “hence its use in the August sales campaign with its football theme.”

In discussing it with a couple of the journalists who previously inquired about the song, “they conceded that only older listeners might be familiar with the sea chantey,” he adds. “I’m 62 and, although the tune in the ad seemed to ring a distant bell, I could not put a name to it.”

“Obviously, no one at Toyota or its ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, recognized any similarity to the old sea chantey,” Mr. Hoyt says, “and we doubt that many listeners will, either.” The campaign is scheduled to end Sunday, he adds.

Am I crazy, or is “Drunken Sailor” not more closely associated with hockey? I can’t ever recall hearing the tune at a football game (or any other sporting event), but I’d bet it’s been played at every single NHL game I’ve ever attended (it is a natural on the electric organ, after all).

Could it be that the NHL’s recent lockout also took out the memory of “Drunken Sailor” at the big-league rink?

Beyond that, I vividly recall it being part of the limited soundtrack of the old EA Sports NHL Hockey videogames of the early and mid-’90s. If anything, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Madden football game developers adopted the tune from the hockey games.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that either hockey or football is a natural fit for a ditty about abusing a passed-out, seaborn drunk. But it’s a spritely melody, nonetheless.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/29/2005 09:21:20 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Hockey, Football, Creative | Permalink |

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  1. Crap. Now that midi file is in my head.

    Comment by David — 08/29/2005 @ 10:15:47 PM

  2. You may have inspired me to hunt that midi/wav down… Would make a nice sound effect for the home computer.

    Comment by CT — 08/29/2005 @ 11:42:02 PM


    Nothing like a sea chanty to stir widespread interest. After penning my contention that “What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor?” is more of a hockey song than a football ditty, I shot off an email on the subject to the New York Times̵…

    Trackback by Population Statistic — 09/06/2021 @ 10:16:57 PM

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