For months, Australia has been avidly following the unfolding romance between a redheaded Australian woman who meets a flirtatious local on a Balinese beach, a younger man working as a waiter. Sparks fly, there is unmistakable chemistry … and something surely happens between them. Or has Rhonda read too much into the situation, her brain fevered from multiple viewings of Eat, Pray, Love?
It sounds like the plot of a soap opera, but we’ve actually been watching a clever series of car insurance commercials from AAMI. Rhonda saved so much money on car insurance that she was able to take a holiday, and it was here that the handsome Ketut pressed exotic drinks on her, and who knows what else. Back home, she found herself gaining the attentions of smooth Trent Toogood at her high school reunion, leaving us wondering if her destiny was Trent or Ketut … or if Ketut was nothing more than a fantasy.
The advertisements have captured the public’s imagination, with several fan pages on Facebook to Rhonda and Ketut’s relationship, and tribute tee-shirts being sold in Bali, reading Rhonda is Mine, and Kiss Me Ketut. Lines such as “beautiful brake foot” and “hot like a sunrise” have entered the popular consciousness, and according to Twitter denizens, if you’re australian and rhonda and ketut aren’t your otp there is something v wrong with u.
The public were invited to vote on whether Rhonda should find eternal bliss with either Trent or Ketu (happy singledom not an option). There wasn’t much doubt that there was nothing v wrong with us and that Team Ketu would win, and Rhonda finally found the happy ever after to her unexpected holiday romance.
AAMI have sensibly said they aren’t going to continue Rhonda and Ketut’s story in case people get sick of it, so the loved-up couple won’t be buying home insurance together or honeymooning in Fiji with all the money they saved on life insurance. AAMI increased its sales by almost 22% during the Rhonda-Ketut story line, so it’s a happy ending for them as well.
Rhonda is a modern Welsh name taken from the Rhondda Valley, once a coal mining area with strong community ties. It has been used since the 19th century, and Rhondda seems to be the older spelling in Wales. Rhondda may be from the Welsh for “recite, recount”, related to the Old Irish for “speech”, with the suggestion that the River Rhondda is speaking aloud (in the sense that we say a river is “babbling”). The meaning is usually glossed as “noisy”.
Rhonda first charted in the 1920s, debuting at #371. It soared in popularity during the 1930s, and made the Top 100 by the 1940s. It peaked in the 1950s at #29, then declined; even the Beach Boys song Help Me Rhonda doesn’t seem to have aided it in the 1960s (it may have possibly damaged the name’s popularity). It was out of the Top 100 by the 1970s, and hasn’t charted since the 1990s.
Rhonda is a dated name, with even the Rhonda in the AAMI commercials given the name when it was already out of fashion (the character is 39). Yet there’s something rather appealing about Rhonda – it’s not glamorous, but seems honest, friendly and good-hearted. I don’t think the advertising campaign is likely to boost Rhonda, but it’s a likeable 1950s name with plenty of warmth.
Ketut (keh-TOOT) is a common Balinese name meaning “fourth-born”; like all Balinese names, it is unisex. It’s a suitably humble name for Rhonda’s hunky waiter, but both characters have names which reference cars – Ketut sounds like the toot of a horn, while Rhonda has Honda in it.
We fell in love with Rhonda and Ketut – but do we love their names?
Rhonda received an approval rating of 44%, and Ketut was further behind with 34%.