It’s Friday! How About Something a Little Lighter Today?

Take a Relook at Some Great Commercials


TV Commercials are a Part of American Life

They reflect our culture. Sometimes they shape our culture. This is true as well in other countries (we will do a blog on these soon), but the whole idea of a commercial becoming an icon started here.

It is not hard to come up with a Best Of list. The internet has hundreds of such lists. And I would agree with most of them. They are entertaining and memorable. We all have some permanently in our memory, some of them decades old. That is a testimonial to those who conceived and made them.

Interestingly, there are a lot of such commercials that everyone seems to remember – they just cannot remember what was being sold. Whoops! No bonus for that crew.

The ones I have noted below, with links so you too can enjoy them again made the cut because they really are clever/funny/memorable, use a great mix of dialogue and graphics, and have good production values.

Have fun. I sure did.

Timex-Takes a Licking, Keeps on Ticking

This is one of the oldest of this group. Notable for a number of reasons. First, it used a network news anchor as a pitchman. Not unheard of in the time, but pretty rare. Second, they were really creative in all the different ways they found to torture that poor watch. This sample is just one torture test. Third, these proved a bottomless pit for spoofing. There must have been dozens of take offs made of this series.

Alka Seltzer: Repeat Hits

This product had a whole gallery of great hits, running over decades. Here is a fun history of their advertising run brought to us by a cherished fellow North Carolinian, Charles Karault:

And for a bonus, enjoy the outtakes commercial from the Alka Seltzer team:

Norelco Shaver

Around our house many years ago, the first sure sign that Christmas was coming was the annual appearance on our TV screen of Santa Claus riding across the snow on a Norelco razor. At some point in time, I think I envisioned Santa on that razor more than I did in a sleigh. You get two versions with this clip.

Apple’s First Big Commercial

This one is generally considered the holy grail of commercials. It was so unusual, so powerful and so different. It still is riveting. The opening footage reminds us that this was aired at Superbowl XVII, in 1984. Superbowl’s have of course, become the uh, Superbowl’s of Commercials. Some years we know the game will be lopsided, but we watch for the commercials. It is when advertisers and sponsors lay it all on the table, bust or win big. Apple won big.

Marlboro Man

One of the most iconic series ever, and one that made the transition to print on billboards, magazines – everywhere. I literally saw versions of this commercial in every country I have visited and that is a long list. Too bad all that talent and energy went into such a destructive product. An interesting footnote: The original Marlboro Man was not actually an actor. He owned a ranch on which someone was shooting a film. They saw him and thought he had just the right image for the commercials they were going to make. Oh, and he never smoked except in those commercials. Here is one of the classic versions, featuring that stick in your head Magnificent Seven theme music.

Wendy’s Where’s the Beef?

Clara Peller became an overnight star with this turn. Several commercials were made with her as the star. You may have heard that some Wendy’s today are having trouble finding enough hamburger meat to serve the public. This old commercial is getting a lot of play from today’s customers asking Clara’s question.

FedEx Speed Talking Guy

John Moschitta still makes my head hurt listening to this one. Many imitators followed him in show biz acts, but no one comes close. The guy is simply amazing. How do you ever learn to do this?

Geico Hump Day Commercial

Geico has a long history of really good commercials (we all know that Gecko, don’t we?), but this series is my favorite. They not only got the perfect voice; they got the perfect camel. Nice swagger when he walks. Most camels I have around tend to spit on people that get too close to them. Guess they bribed this one to behave.

Rice A Roni

These things ran for over 30 years. The theme song became an ear worm for millions of us, and the San Francisco scenery helped as well. As a result of looking up this commercial, guess what we are having for dinner one night this week. Remember Rice A Roni meatballs. Jealous?

Budweiser Animal Commercials

Ah, the king of the hill. Budweiser is the undisputed king of great commercials. Most well remembered are those made for Superbowl’s featuring the Clydesdales, but frequently including other animals as well. Of course they did a lot of people commercials too (Remember Mean Joe Green, Hey Kid?) But the animals rule. Interestingly enough, as much as everyone loved these, they did not sell a lot of beer and so they make other types of commercials these days. I am still not buying that beer. Here are some of my favorites. – puppy – donkey  – 9/11 Tribute

Now for a few you likely missed but will be glad you found them today:

A senior citizen discovers Cokes:

Stealing Salmon from a Bear:

Armed Ducks Attack Hunters:

Have a fine weekend everyone.

       Bill Clontz

If you find this blog worthy of your time and curiosity, I invite you to do two things:

(1) Join the conversation. Your voice counts here. If you wish to share COMMENTS anonymously, make the last word in your comment “PRIVATE.” I will assure your privacy via anonymity.

(2) Share the word about this post with friends and colleagues. Share a link in your emails and social media posts ( Let’s grow our circle.


2 replies to It’s Friday! How About Something a Little Lighter Today?

  1. Great trip down advertising memory lane. I have one more commercial to add…Pepsi ad with little girl served a Coke by mistake. Don’t know how to attach it here.

    • Oh, yes, I remember that one. She talks like a mob boss. Great one.

Your Turn to Comment