Get Malacca For the Money, Rattan To Go

Does anybody else remember that phrase? It bubbled up out of the hazy corners of my memory today, as it does every once in a while. There are only three results for the phrase “rattan to go” on the Web, but Nadya over at Retro Junk offers a good introduction to this strange local commercial from the eighties:

What was it advertising? I think it was a furniture store; in fact, I could be almost positive it was a furniture store. Yes, actually, it had to be. Now that I’m recalling the deeper meaning of the lyrical content, there’s no way that it couldn’t be an advertisement for a furniture store. As a child, it was just an astonishing, mesmerizing array of visuals, accompanied by a few scant lines of dialogue containing words that were meaningless to me, as I didn’t understand them. Allow me to illustrate: an ebony-skinned man with a large smile, wearing a white suit and white gloves and matching white top hat, slinking around a darkened environment.

Stavros fills in a few more details.

I wonder when in the eighties that was? Some time in the mid-eighties, I’d guess. You probably have to be over thirty to remember it.

I recall that the actor–one Blu Mankuma, apparently–had the darkest skin I’d ever seen in my young life. There was a very kind of colonial, Caribbean groove, and there may have been a woman dancing around in the background. I’m probably confusing that with an ad for champagne from the same period (I can still hum the jingle. The woman sounded like Julie Andrews and the name of the wine sounded like ‘hawktala’).

Do you remember this ad?

I’m incredibly tempted to give Mr. Mankuma a call, and see if he has a copy of the video.

Derek found a copy of this ad in a series of commercials from CBUT-TV in 1990:


  1. The wine “hawktala” sounds like it could be Hochtaler. And I found the video (very “Cabaret”-esque) here. The image looks like it’s broken, but click on it anyways.

  2. It is Hochtaler wine, and Malacca Rattan was (not surprisingly) a furniture store in Vancouver that sold…wicker rattan couches, chairs, and so on. The campaign ran for a pretty long time, probably from the late ’70s to the mid-’80s.

    The overall vibe of the Malacca Rattan commercial reminds me quite a bit of the first Roger Moore 007 film, “Live and Let Die,” with the freaky voodoo priests and such, but much tamer, obviously.

    Certainly it seemed like an homage to the movie to me at the time, even though I was a (James Bond-obsessed) kid.

    Here’s another link about the commercials.

  3. Oh my god, the memories! I totally forgot about the rattan commercial, but one late night at the Herald a couple of us were reminiscing about the Hochtaler commercial, so we youtubed it.

  4. I remember that commercial too!

    And, er, I wish I had the courage to call the guy and tell him how much I enjoyed that commercial…I really wanted to visit the Caribbean because of him. (Though I now know that Malacca is not in the Caribbean.)

  5. I don’t think the local-ads trifecta will be complete until someone mentions The Captain.

    Okay, I know, Hochtaler wasn’t local, its ads were just cheesy.

  6. Oh my god. Both of those commercials are etched permanently in my Brain. I moved to Vancouver in the summer of 1981 and spent a LOT of time watching television before school started and I had a chance to make some friends my own age. Both of those ads were fixtures.

  7. The line that nobody seems to remember from the jingle is “Fabrics to get ready, baby”. I, too, have strong memories of this ad. I wonder if I have a copy of it sitting on a tape somewhere in the garage? I have a bunch of stuff from KVOS in the mid to late 80s, so odds are pretty good — I’m too lazy to search for it, though 😉

    Oh, and to this day, I still think of the line “It’s always a good year” from the the Hochtaler commercial whenever I’m shopping for wine at the liquor store.

    Yes, I’m old and I have no life.

  8. Any time someone says rattan – I hear “Rattan to go” in my head. Said in that lyrical Carribean/Jamaican accent.

    Same goes for $1.49 – “It’s dollar forty-nine day, Tuesday ..”

    My head is full of that kind of stuff.

  9. It’s official: we’ve all turned into The Simpsons, and ad jingles are the folk songs of our generation.

    LJ: it’s not just you, I can still whistle the eight-note Woodward’s leitmotif.

    Derek: wrong Captain. Think “aye aye, and good bye!” Big fat used-goods/pawn store owner who more or less pioneered buying late-night ad space on Vancouver TV stations.

  10. Like others mentioned in this post. I can’t hear the word rattan without thinking, “Rattan to go…”

    I grew up in the U.S. right next to the Canadian border. We didn’t have cable so I grew up with Everything coming out of Vancouver. Channel 8, Chek 6, Channel 10 (I remember when it was U tv) and of course CBC. So I to have memories of the Captain, Hochtaler, and Malacca.

    I’d give anything to find a clip of that Malacca commercial.

    The Hochtaler commercial also just blew my mind back to being a youngin.

  11. Hey, I was just thinking about this commercial this morning for some reason. I think the exact text was:

    Take Malaca for the money, wicker for the show. Fabrics to get ready, baby…..rattan to go.

    Thanks for the memories. : )

  12. I loved this ad and have sung it often with my friends over the years. “Get malaca for the money, wicka for the show, fabric to get ready baby, rattan (pause) to go!” You have to say “wicka” not wicker, because of the accent. I loved that ad. The Hochtala ad was big too (in my memory) but not AS permanently (happily) etched.

    1. I am not even 30 (though admittedly very close) and I too am forever unable to use the word “rattan” because of this commercial.

      Tried looking for it the other day, because I remember as a child being convinced that this commercial featured the same guy as in the 7Up commercials of the era. It’s not Geoffrey Holder, but hey, I was four.

      While listing off infamous Vancouver advertising of the early 80’s, can we have a shout-out for Daniadown. What Malacca did to “rattan”, this blonde temptress did for “qvilts” and “qvilt covers”

      1. Funny. I wrote both the commercial for Malacca and for Daniadown. Several chords of the original Daniadown spot are still used.

      2. hey – that’s amazing! you obviously have the knack for creating unforgettable ads. Thanks for the Malacca ones – they’re my absolute faves.

  13. I found your blog looking for the Malacca Rattan ad – sad to know my search is probably doomed.

    There was another ad that seemed to vanish – not local though. It was for Marina toilet paper. It featured a woman by the seaside, and when she’d think of Marina toilet paper, a huge breeze would pick up and blow back her hair. Then the song would start up: “Marina, soft as the seabreeze yet strong as the sea”.

    My partner absolutley will not believe that a toilet paper ad would feature that jingle and a huge wind blowing the woman’s hair all about. If only I could find it again…

    1. I vividly recall the commercials for Marina Bathroom Tissue from the early to mid 1970s. I was a very little girl and I remember my sister and I making fun of the commercial because of the song, which went, “Soft as the touch of the sea breeze, soft as the touch of the shore…ooooooo…” We also had a great Aunt Marina. Imagine how tickled I was, at the age of 7, when we visited her home and I peeped into her bathroom closet, only to find packages of Marina Bathroom Tissue. I laughed so hard that I couldn’t speak. Anyway, yes, you are absolutely correct about the Marina jingle and the ridiculous commercial with the wind blowing. There was also one that had a sailboat on the water in the sunset, and the TP package had a sailboat on it too. I have searched YouTube for a clip of the old commercial and cannot find it anywhere.

    2. To High on Markers…look what I found! It’s in closer to the end of the clip. It’s the 80’s version of the Marina commercial, not the one from the 70s, but still funny!

      1. brilliant!! You have solved a bet that is about 10 years old. That is so funny about your auntie’s toilet paper…

        thank you thank you thank you

  14. This ad made an impression on me because it was one of the first ads that I watched right after I immigrated from Seoul to Vancouver. I believe it was aired in 1987 for a funiture store/brand. I even remember the actor, and I know he still acts in Canadian TV shows.

  15. I was helping a friend move the other day and the rattan furniture brought this jingle back from the depths of my memory. I _really_ need to see this commerical.

  16. I remembered this ad today and decided to Google “It’s Malacca for the money” in hopes of finding out if Malacca was the name of the store. As I recall, the lyrics were: “It’s Malacca for the money, wicker for the show, leather to get ready, rattan…to go!” And yes, there was definitely a Baron Samedi vibe to it!

  17. This darn Malacca ad was always stuck in my head as a kid. I have a vague memory of seeing a store on (I think it was) Davie and Seymour, it was the northeast corner of the intersection for sure. I remember thinking “There’s the store from the ads!” and wondering if the guy would be in there, even trying to see in the windows to look for him. Hey, I was really young! It *could* have been a store that just sold similar Golden Girls type furniture, but I always thought it was the actual store.

    1. hahahaha! All of these memories are cracking this one. I just said this aloud after reading someone referred to this commerical above.

  18. Dang nab it! What I wouldn’t do for a copy of that commercial!
    I loved that ad.
    A few years ago, a fellow and I had a little landscaping job and it was real hard work. We sang little jingles from T.V. to pass the time and when we got to the Malacca ad, we almost p.p.’ed in our pants laughing so hard!

  19. Thanks so much!

    My husband and I sing this around the house all the time (and then it’s stuck in our heads all day). I decided to pop on and see if, by chance, the video was on youtube, but alas…. no.

    Thank you all for letting me know it’s “fabrics to get ready baby!”

  20. I keep coming back to this site to see if anyone has found this online. I have a couple of VHS tapes with 80s tv on them – maybe it’ll be on there. Someone has it somewhere. I mean, it was on tv *all* the time, right? 🙂

  21. Huzzah! Wow, that brings back memories (and saves me from having to go through my many tapes of KVOS from the 80s). Glad to see that my recollection of the “fabrics to get ready, baby” line was correct.

    Thanks, Derek!

  22. Ha! I wrote and directed that commercial for Malacca Rattan. I first wrote the 30 sec radio ad… but it was Roger Dressler on voice over. I asked him to pretend he was sipping a mint julep. The radio was so successful the client wanted a TV version. This was interesting because Roger was caucasian and and I wanted a more exotic look. Blu was performing at The Arts Club theatre, I cast him and he had to lip-synch. We used miniature neon sculptures layered over ‘blue-screen’ studio shots.
    Cheers, L. Leboe

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