I have already looked back at one song that became a chart-topper off the back of being used on a Levis advert (so many singles found success in this way). In 1999 there was a Levis advert that memorably featured Flat Eric, who was a yellow puppet thing (this is just about the best description that I can make). Eric was in his car enjoying a rather squashed and squelchy song. And yes, I did get caught up in all of the hype somewhat, finding this to be a rather strange yet cuddly character.
So in April 1999 the song in the advert “Flat Beat” by Mr Oizo (who was a French producer whose first name was Quentin) was released, which was just about an instrumental (there was a brief piece of dialogue at the start), and this was a chart-topper for two weeks. Eric also starred in the video. Hearing this in full though, it did seem to be rather repetitive and ran out of ideas rather quickly.
I remember when this was played on the radio once around the time of its success, and the presenter said afterwards “a lot of people will have bought that single and then thought to themselves, is that it?”. This could be considered to be another triumph for marketing over music. Indeed, for a short while you could even buy a Flat Eric, and yes, I did have one.
And while he was the, er, puppet of the moment, Eric was also interviewed in various magazines, although he didn’t have much to say for himself. Mr Oizo would go on to have no more hits in the UK after this though, meaning he joined a rare group of pop acts who were not just a one-hit wonder, but also a chart-topping one. Many years later Eric went on to appear in some more advertising campaigns, and it was great to see him again.
From what I can make out though, it seems that Mr Oizo (who has gone on to make several albums) and Flat Eric are still good friends all these years on, and at least he hasn’t been left in a dusty old cupboard. I’m not sure how many people would remember them now though, this is a rather perfect example of a cultural reference point that was popular for about three minutes. But I will always consider Eric to be a star.