15 Aug Johnny Cash does “Money Machine” TV spots for Canada Trust
The Making of a Legendary TV Commercial
I’ve been lucky enough to meet some legends in my day, and one of the greatest was Johnny Cash. We were producing a TV commercial for Canada Trust back in 1983, and Johnny was hired as the spokesperson. Although it seemed a bit odd to have such an American icon speaking for Canada Trust, it made sense, since the spot was being produced to launch their new ‘automated banking machine’ to the world.
Speaking creatively, Johnny Cash made sense in two ways. Obviously, there was the tie-in of his name to the actual cash machine by calling it the “Johnny Cash Money Machine”. No brainer.
The other connection was through Johnny’s big hit, “I Walk The Line”. Back in the day, getting cash from your bank meant standing in line waiting for a teller. With the new automated machines, the line-ups were to become a thing of the past. MJM produced an instantly-memorable jingle by changing the main lyric line to “Why Walk The Line?”. So you see, it all made perfect advertising sense!
I gotta say Johnny Cash was a very polite and humble man from the moment we met. I was alone in the control room; everyone else was upstairs. Through the glass door, I could see Johnny entering our main foyer. He was a very striking figure, dressed in pitch black from head to toe, but for a bright turquoise neckerchief. He looked about 7 feet tall. He too was alone. He opened the control door, walked just inside and stopped. Then he said in a very modest manner, “Hi, I’m Johnny Cash”. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting that line from him at all. I thought that went without saying… I thought him saying “I’m Johnny Cash” was about as redundant as it gets. Yet he probably thought folks in a small town in Canada wouldn’t recognize him.
Amazingly, the production for two TV spots and two radio commercials plus the jingle was all done in one (long) day, since Johnny had to get back to Nashville for another session. That was 30 years ago…
Check out the TV spot, and how about that cool turquoise neckerchief!