Flymo To The Moon: Sex, Sci-Fi And Lawnmowers In 1970s Advertising

Hot Gossip do their best to make FlyMo lawnmowers look futuristic and sexy.

There is sexy tech, and then there is functional tech. Lawnmowers, I suspect, have generally fallen into the latter group – while they might be seen as necessary things for the sort of people who have large lawns, are keen gardeners and have that suburban sense of neatness and conformity, no one is ever going to see lawnmowers, be they manual or electric, as the sort of must-have, wildly expensive status symbol technology that every anti-capitalist hipster must have.

Of course, there is still the middle-class oneupmanship of Suburbia – the gardening classes presumably still want to own the best machine out there, one that will maximise grass-cutting efficiency and reduce work, while possibly making the neighbours green with envy. But it’s a damn sight harder to make a lawnmower look sexy than it is some sort of electronic consumer frippery like a phone, games console or other entertainment devices, or phallic enhancements like cars. No one is ever going to believe that lawnmowers will get you laid or make you successful in the office. No – owning a lawnmower is, if anything, the sign of defeat in the game of life; at least, it suggests that you’ve gracefully retired from the field and are now safely domesticated.

So you have to admire the ambition of FlyMo, who decided to advertise their 1979 model with all the panache of a car company. The ad ropes in members of dance troupe Hot Gossip, dressed in futuristic silver outfits and saucily pouting as they push the lawnmowers through mirrored sets before strutting down the lawn in stiletto heels. This is, of course, in the great tradition of 1970s ‘sex sells’ advertising, where scantily-clad girls were used to sell just about anything – indeed, the less sexy a product, the more likely it was that sexy dolly birds would be roped in to distract from that fact. It’s the displacement theory of advertising – the desire for the model shifting onto desire for the car tires she is draped over.

It’d be nice to think that, even in 1979, there was a certain tongue-in-cheek attitude to this ad (and it’s a little unsure if this was made for TV or for trade shows). In any case, it’s deliriously silly and TV would be a lot more bearable if nonsense like this – rather than souless hard sells for insurance and charity companies – still popped up on TV broadcasts.

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