They were the ads for Smith’s chips that were on Australian TV for years. And there was a secret voice behind the iconic character.
If you just read that and didn’t do it in the Gobbledok’s voice, then are you even Australian?
For those aged 25 and under (we’ll give you a pass this time), the Gobbledok was splashed across TV advertisements for Smith’s Chips from 1987 until 1994.
Hailing from the “potato planet” Dok, Gobbledok the alien was a chip fiend and always desperate to get his hands on Smith’s Chips.
More than just an ad, Gobbledok’s cry of “Chippy, chippy, chippy!” became a iconic catchphrase in Australian pop culture.
It’s something voiceover artist Dave Gibson admits he had no idea would happen when he first recorded the Gobbledok’s voice.
“It was just one of many jobs I was doing at the time as a professional voice over,” he told news.com.au.
Mr Gibson, now 62, is reprising his role as the Gobbledok in a new campaign video to celebrate Smith’s Chips 90th anniversary.
He said the famous catch cry came about while “playing around” in a recording studio.
“They showed me a drawing of the Gobbledok and said, ‘we don’t know how it sounds, we know it says chippies’, and then they basically said my five most favourite words in the English language, ‘just have fun with it’,” he said.
Mr Gibson, who was 29 at the time, remembers experimenting with different voices before he struck gold.
“My first instinct was to give it a sort of (speaking in a low voice) ‘chippy, chippy, chippy’ sort of gruff voice,” he said.
“We were playing around and there were some we liked, some we threw out immediately. And just suddenly I went, (in Gobbledok’s voice), ‘chippies!’ And ‘chippy, chippy chippy’. And I think we all sort of stopped and went, ‘Oh, that might work’ and we pretty much locked onto that right away and went with that.”
Mr Gibson said he left the studio that say and “forgot about it”, until the ad came out on television and something strange happened.
“It came out and a week or so later I noticed people were wondering around saying ‘chippy, chippy, chippy’ and I mean everybody; little kids and adults,” he said.
“I suddenly went, wow I think we really onto something, we’ve struck a rich vein.
“That was fired up with some more TV commercials and it just got bigger and bigger.”
So, why did the Gobbledok become such a hit with Aussie audiences? Mr Gibson believes part of it came down to just how unique the character was.
“I don’t know what it was, it’s obviously a combination of the voice and the actual character,” he said.
“The look of character as well as the voice, the marriage between the two. But it really struck a nerve.”
For Mr Gibson, who has gone on to work in radio and was the voiceover for the last 12 years of Australia’s Funniest Home Videos, the role opened doors for him professionally.
It also gave him a funny anecdote when meeting new people.
“The more iconic it became and the more famous and pervasive it became, I was only too happy to trot out the voice,” he said.
“It was a great introduction because sometimes you say to people, ‘Oh I do voiceovers and they go, ‘well can you give us an example?’ and you trot out something you did for an air conditioner or a refrigerator.
“But I just go, ‘Does this ring a bell? Chippy chippy chippy!’ And people’s jaws would drop and their eyes would light up.”
When asked what the secret was to Gobbledok’s voice, Mr Gibson said even he couldn’t explain just how it works.
“I know how do to it, I just can’t explain it,” he said.
Mr Gibson doesn’t need to warm up or do vocal exercises to perfect the “Chippy!” cry and rolled the catchphrase off the cuff multiple times during his interview with news.com.au.
It’s what made starring in Smith’s Chips’ new campaign video celebrating 90 years of the iconic brand such a no-brainer.
Mr Gibson’s Gobbledok appears in the clip alongside comedian Stephen Curry who travels through the brand’s history.
“When they called this time around I was thrilled to bits to be doing it again,“ Mr Gibson said of reprising the famous role. “It really holds a special place in my heart.”