Let me preface this post by stating unequivocally I have watched entirely too much television in the course of my life. I have watched enough for me, and probably for you as well. I don’t watch very much these days, although there are a few shows I don’t miss, and I like watching NFL football.
In today’s age of Tivo (or your DVR of choice), Netflix, Roku, “on demand” cable and satellite services, it is very easy to avoid TV commercials. As a result, advertisers have found ways to make commercials more interesting, or funny, or eye-catching, so that you might actually take a second or two to see what’s going on there on your screen.
I NEVER thought I would say this, but I sometimes miss the old ads of yesteryear. You know, the ones that have jingles that still rattle around in my mind. The ones with Colonel Sanders, or Ronald McDonald, or the Jolly Green Giant (ho,ho,ho).
When I was a kid, we didn’t have fancy universal remotes, or any remotes, for that matter. In fact, I was the remote in our house:
“Jason, change it to channel five.”
“Jason, could you switch it to the game now?”
Being an only child had its perks (no sharing required), but this particular item didn’t make the list.
Those large dials were always fun. Chunka-chunka-chunka. Channel 4. Chunka-chunka-chunk. Channel 7.
I remember when we first got cable television, when I was around 12 or 13. We had a small basic remote for changing channels. Of course, it had no volume control, so you had to get off your duff to adjust that manually.
One thing that I sort of miss now is the fact that you always knew what they were actually trying to sell you back then:
“Blue Star Ointment. It kills itching fast.”
“Kentucky Fried Chicken. Finger-licking good!”
McDonald’s even had a knack for bringing a tear to the eye with their ads, although I will readily admit that it never made me want to eat their food.
One of the most famous ads of all-time is Coca-Cola’s “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”, which was sort of like a hippie love-in on behalf of a major soft drink company, but it was catchy and memorable and pleasant, even if the folks in the ad look a bit hypnotized:
Here’s another popular ad from my childhood – this one came out when I was about six or so probably. Does anyone here understand this particular marketing technique? I don’t exactly understand the appeal, but I know that they darn sure wanted me (or my parents) to buy some Kool-Aid, perhaps with the threat of being crushed by the giant pitcher if I didn’t comply?
We had to deal with the spectre of the scary Kool Aid dude, and the strangeness of the Chuck Wagon mini-stagecoach (seemed very much like a bad drug trip for dogs, in my opinion), and the incessant Slinky song (it’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, fun for a girl or a boy!). I would take any of these over the incredible soft sell found in today’s commercials.
I have often found myself talking about ads with friends, then we realized that none of us even know what company the ads are promoting.
I think it’s great to include humor in ads, but not at the expense of the focus/reason for the ad in the first place.
“Wow! That was hilarious! I have no idea what they were selling, but I laughed.”
I really don’t have any central point to this post, other than to offer my opinion that advertisers might be better served by bringing back cute characters and mascots, and having hippie love-fests, and beating me over the head with their incessantly catchy jingles. Hey – jingles work. This one is one that I like to serenade my wife with when we go to movies sometimes:
Thanks for reading!