Maxell Tapes 1985

1985 commercial for Maxell audio.

Maxell, is a Japanese company which manufactures consumer electronics. The company’s notable products are batteries and electronics — the company’s name is a contraction of “maximum capacity dry cell” — and recording media, including audio cassettes and blank VHS tapes, and recordable optical discs like CD-R/RW and DVD±RW. Additionally, the company sells electronics accessories, like CD and DVD laser cleaners. On March 4, 2008 Maxell announced that they would no longer manufacture their optical media, but would start contracting other companies to manufacture Maxell media.


Maxell was formed in 1960 when a dry cell manufacturing plant was created at the company’s Osaka registered headquarters. In 1961, Maxell Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. was created out of the dry battery and magnetic tape divisions of Nitto Electric lndustrial Co., Ltd. (now Nitto Denko Corp.).

Ad Campaign

In the 1980s, Maxell became an icon of pop culture when it produced advertisements popularly known as “Blown Away Guy” for its line of audio cassettes. The original campaign began as a trade ad in 1978 and was made into TV spots in 1979 which ran throughout the 1980s. Steve Steigman was the photographer and Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” was used for music. In the UK the music used was “Night on Bald Mountain” by Modest Mussorgsky.

The ads depict a man sitting low in a (Le Corbusier) high armed chair (on the right side of the screen) in front of, and facing, a pair of JBL L100 speakers (the left side of the screen). His hair and necktie, along with the lampshade to the man’s right and the martini glass on the low table to the man’s left, are being blown back by the tremendous sound from speakers in front of him — supposedly due to the audio accuracy of Maxell’s product. He is shown desperately clinging to the armrests but defiantly looking ahead at the source of the music through sunglasses, though calmly catching his drink before it slides off the end table. Television commercials showed the chair, as well as a drink and nearby lamp, moving back away from the stereo by the strong force of the sound waves. The image became the de facto standard of those who believed their stereo equipment had sufficient power or accuracy to move the mind and the soul. The model for the UK (not US) ad campaign was musician Peter Murphy of the group Bauhaus. The model for the US campaign, however, was the makeup artist hired for the shoot by photographer Steve Steigman. The impact of the advertising campaign on popular culture still resonates today: “Blown Away Guy” was parodied on the animated television show “Family Guy” in the episode “Model Misbehavior”. This is only the most recent in countless parodies over the years, which includes a parody in the John Ritter film Stay Tuned, (which featured a character’s head being blown off by a “Max-Hell” tape).

On December 12, 2005, Maxell decided to bring “Blown Away Guy” back due to its popularity.   As Maxell now makes blank DVDs and CDs, headphones and speakers in addition to mainstays such as blank audio and video tape, the ads have been updated with photos of iPods and accessories underneath the image. “Get blown away” is the headline while copy urges consumers to use Maxell accessories to “make your small iPod sound like a huge audio system.”

The music video for P. Diddy’s song ‘Tell Me’, is somewhat reminiscent of the “Blown Away Guy” ad.

Info gleaned from Wikipedia

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