My love of the World Strongest Man Competition is obvious. If you don’t believe, just check out some of our previous posts on the weird and wonderful of the WSM. In particular I am a huge fan of the early WSM shows. They were a time when the sport had not yet professionalized. In reality, it existed as a sort of half circus/half sporting event.
This is to take nothing away from the competitors, all of whom were elite athletes. Rather, this is to say that there was a sense of playfulness in the early WSM that is sometimes missing from the more recent editions.
The below advertisement featuring two time WSM Champion Geoff Capes, is evidence enough!
Who is Geoff Capes?
Much to my shame, we have not covered Geoff Capes enough on this website. Likewise, in my writings elsewhere I have focused on Capes’ great rival Bill Kazmaier. This does a great disservice to Capes, who was one of the most accomplished athletes of his era.
Aside from the WSM, Capes was a shot put and a Highland Games Champion. His Wikipedia page is a testament to his versatility. Capes’ success, across multiple disciplines, made him a star in Britain during the 1980s. Although strongman was still in its infancy, Capes’ champion status meant he was offered multiple opportunities to promote goods and services.
The above advertisement is, to my mind, one of the cleverest I have seen. Shown in 1983, the same year as Capes’ first WSM victory, the advertisement shows Capes putting a new Volkswagen Polo through a battery of tests to prove its mettle. The message is clear, if it can handle Capes, it can handle anything!
Since Capes’ advertisement, marketers have continued to use WSM competitors in a variety of creative ways. But, and this is undoubtedly my own bias showing, nothing beats the Capes’ advertisement for its simplicity. Also the flip at the end is just the right side of nonchalant.