In a post-apocalyptic dystopian nightmare, handsome models will find the oppression with their … GE cassette players. Look, it all makes some kind of 1985 sense. This is exactly how people do not feel about their smartphone in 2024.

I don’t know exactly what the GE marketing department was doing in the mid-80s – let’s just say it was a whole lot of, erm, Tab. But while brands like Sharp, JVC, Panasonic, and Tecsonic owned General Electric in boomboxes, and Sony dominated handhelds, evidently, GE decided to strike back by making what looks like some of the most expensive cassette advertising imaginable. I don’t know how I missed this doing the blog rounds back in 2021, but I agree with Boing Boing’s Mark Frauenfelder that it looks like Apple’s 1984 meets [La Strada producer] Dino De Laurentiis and [Barbarella director] Roger Vadim.

The real director here isn’t far off, either – it’s Howard Guard, producer of videos for Bauhaus and Roxy Music.

Here’s what happened. It looks so stylish in this 35mm scan that I had to double-check it wasn’t more recent spec work done as a fantasy of an 80s ad:

There’s a great description and more cross-links on the We Are the Mutants blog:

I’m not saying the costume design predicted Apple Vision Pro, but…

Guard also made this iconic ad for Maxell, with Bauhaus’ Pete Murphy:

And a VHS version, too:

GE’s print campaigns at the time were brilliant, too. But the brand never quite hit as hard as its (largely Asian) competitors, who were innovating on features and price at the time.

Okay, in retrospect the weakest of these headlines (look they were trying to be cool with the faux-graffiti word “MUSIC” for people who like… MUSIC):

This age is over – and probably just as well, as I don’t know that we need to be filling up landfills with terrible plastic audio gear. But the fantasy could live on.