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Iconic $1.49 Day jingle returns to the airwaves — 64 years later

Save-On-Foods revives award-winning $1.49 Day ad created by Tony Antonias in 1958
Tony Antonias, the creator of the iconic $1.49 Day jingle, with the typewriter that helped spark the tune. An international award for the jingle hangs on the wall.

An award-winning jingle has hit the airwaves again — 64 years after it was created right here in New West.

Radio listeners may have noticed the familiar sounds of the $1.49 Day ad created by the late Tony Antonias for Woodward’s Department Stores on radio stations in recent weeks. Save-On-Foods is now using the tune for its new $1.49 Day sales.

“We have great respect for the Woodward’s history associated with $1.49 Day Tuesday,” Montana McMullin, internal communications specialist with Save-on-Foods, said in a statement to the Record. “We have recreated it as a new promotion, redeveloped the jingle and are excited to bring back this iconic promotion.”

The Save-On-Foods $1.49 Day jingle hit the airwaves in February, in the lead-up to its inaugural sale on Feb. 21. A second $1.49 sale is happening Tuesday, March 7 (today).

Tony Antonias, who passed away on Jan. 25, 2019 at the age of 89, wrote the $1.49 Day advertisement for Woodward’s, when he was working as the creative director at CKNW.

Woodward’s closed its stores in 1993, and the jingle wasn’t heard again until 2006, when someone from Rennie Marketing Systems called Antonias and asked if they could use the commercial to promote the multi-million dollar Woodward’s District development on the store’s old site in Vancouver.

"I was flattered," Antonias told the Record at the time. "These guys have done their homework. What else would give the project instant recognition? Of course I said yes."

When the company asked Antonias how much money he wanted in compensation for using the commercial, he asked that it make a $1,500 donation to the New Westminster Arts Council's Hilda Cliffe grants program and $1,500 to the Vagabond Players at the Bernie Legge Theatre.

"Rennie was happy to oblige," he said. "And I'm just so glad the money can come back into the Royal City where the legendary ad was created."

If you’d like to hear Antonias talk about the jingle — and hear him play the original version — check out this video from the Record’s archives.

How it came to be

Antonias was proud of having created the $1.49 Day ad — which featured a whistled tune, followed by someone singing “$1.49 Woodward’s — $1.49 Day Tuesday.”

In December 1957, Antonias headed home to Australia for a six-week visit with his family. Before leaving, he told his bosses at CKNW that if didn’t have a new typewriter on his desk when he returned, he would quit.

"I had an old typewriter that nobody wanted,” he told the Record.

When Antonias returned from his vacation, there was a brand new Olympia typewriter on his desk. But soon, he had another problem; he was called into the sales manager's office and asked to do something "very creative" for Woodward's Department Store's $1.49 Day — ads that normally featured someone reading a list of sale items, a task normally done by a junior staffer.

Saying he was “mad as a wet hen”, Antonias returned to his desk and, when a colleague asked him what was wrong, he relayed what had happened and he hit a key on his new typewriter in disgust.

“It went ding. Everybody looked up. 'What was that?' I hit my typewriter and the ding became ding, ding. As God is my witness, it was almost like a melody to me,” he told the Record. “I sat down at my new typewriter and I wrote: ‘$1.49 Day Woodward's, $1.49 Day Tuesday.’ I had the melody."

Antonias worked with CKNW's record librarian Dick Abbott on the jingle and recorded it that weekend. On Monday morning, when reviewing it with Abbott, Antonias felt something was missing, and they added a whistle at the beginning and the end of the advertisement.

It took three months to convince Woodward’s to use the ad, which launched in April 1958. The $1.49 Day jingle — featuring Antonias whistling — was an instant hit.

Three years later, the Hollywood Advertising Club in California awarded Antonias an International Broadcasting Award for creating one of the World's Best Broadcast Advertisements.

Antonias — known to some folks around town as Mr. $1.49 Day — celebrated the jingle’s 60th anniversary on Feb. 19, 2018 with a small reception in the foyer at New Westminster City Hall.

With Record files

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