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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

watch it: AT&T 1993 “You Will” Ads


The 1993 date on these ads is a tad outside what I’d been thinking of as “retro” for Thursday’s retro TV ad web video of the day: I’d previously not featured anything newer than the 1980s. And that will continue to be the case here (for a while, at least). I’m making an exception for these ads for a couple of reasons. One, if it takes “20 years” for something to be retro, well, 1993 is almost there. Two, I’ve been trying to find these ads forever, because they so stuck in my mind, and I had no luck. (I can’t believe the upload date on YouTube is 2006! I searched much more recently than that, to no avail. Weird.)

Third, they’re so interesting in how they got so much right and a few things wrong.

The “Have you ever sent someone a fax from the beach?” bit is pretty hilarious. So is “Have you ever tucked your baby in from a phone booth?” Fax? Phone booth? Still, it’s the mom traveling in the baby bit, not the dad (and is that Jenna Elfman as the mom?). And the interracial couple in the pregnancy bit feels surprising.

These ads really captured my imagination in the same way that Blade Runner and Max Headroom did, but without being scary about it. However AT&T has fallen down in bringing us the future, they were at least thinking about it in realistic ways.



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  • yes… also, did they anticipate that you’d go to those meetings in your barefeet, and tuck the baby in from a phone because you were going to be on-call and available for work 24/7?

  • and now you have to find those weird old Quest ads… “every movie ever made, all the time” “how is that possible?”

  • And the interracial couple in the pregnancy bit feels surprising.

    Why do you say that? That ad came out in 1993, not 1953 or even 1963. I realize that was the same decade that saw the release of Jungle Fever and the controversial O.J. trial and that even today people make a fuss over interracial couples. But not everybody was that racially backwards in the 1990s. (One of my close friends has a racially mixed daughter who was born before that era so I’m a bit biased.)

    Then again I keep imagining a history class fifty years from now and wondering how backwards the people in that class will think we are.

    In any event, the most important question I get from these ads is “why in the world would anyone want to tuck their baby in from a phone booth?” But that’s just me.

  • Ha! Yes, that’s totally Jenna Elfman!

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