By Jack Beresford (@JackBeresford89)
The late 1990s were a strange time for Ian Wright. Though he cut an increasingly peripheral figure at his beloved Arsenal, and was eventually shipped out to West Ham in 1998 to join John Hartson at the Gunners’ very own elephant’s graveyard, he certainly was in demand within the media.
An all-too-brief foray into the world late-night chat shows with the imaginatively titled “Friday Night’s All Wright” (on which he interviewed Elton John, Mariah Carey and Will Smith) was quickly followed by an even stranger stint as the face of stir-in sauce specialists Chicken Tonight.
Quite why Wright was chosen to front a campaign for quick-fix cooking sauces aimed at busy parents is anybody’s guess.
Chicken Tonight does rhyme with Wright – the exact same line of thinking that saw him lumbered presenting a BBC Radio 5Live show with Mark Bright for all those years – but it gets weirder…
The advert saw Wright decked out in a Hugh Hefner-style smoking jacket and cravat, extolling the virtues of the Chicken Tonight’s new Sizzle & Stir range in his finest faux-plummy voice.
Sizzle & Stir was “something more sophisticated than your everyday cooking sauce” Wrighty kindly informed us, revealing that this new range is made up for two separate pots, something that immediately sounds like a faff.
Things even get a little meta when the advert is interrupted with its own mini ad-break – a clip of Wright running across the screen, flapping his arms and singing “One Feels Like Chicken Tonight” in that odd voice he’s adopted, never to be heard again.
By the end there’s just enough time for Ian to slip in a joke/cliché about it being a game of two halves, though that gag might be lost on anyone confused as to why Wright has spent the last 30 seconds doing a ropey impression of Chris Eubank rather than playing his familiar footballer self.
It all begs the question: Was Wright’s bizarre performance the result of some ad executive’s ill-advised marketing campaign or did Wright just turn up and decide to adopt this posh bloke persona?
Whatever the truth, Wrighty, Sizzle & Stir were dumped by Chicken Tonight in the early 2000s, largely because they involved roughly 50% more hassle than regular cooking sauces.