Exorbitant Amounts – Masterpiece Board Game Commercial (1970)

This 1970 effort to unseat Monopoly as the grown-up-games champion goes real grown-up in its marketing. The concept of Masterpiece seems interesting enough: you and your friends are art collectors at an auction. You get paintings that are assigned values ranging from fraud to $1 million, and your job is to buy/sell/auction your collection to…

Top Secret – Golgo 13 Commercial (NES) (1988)

As a kid I had no idea what Golgo 13 was, but the second issue of Nintendo Power sold me on it. I put it on my Christmas list, and Santa delivered. It was an early lesson in being careful what you wished for. Later on I learned that in Japan Duke Togo, Secret Agent…

Listen To This – Fresh Prince 900-number (1990s)

It’s not exactly surprising, but it’s still pretty tacky. Few celebrities could resist the easy one-and-done money of the 900-number concept in the ’90s, that terrible consumer experience that stretched content delivery as thin as possible in order to grab a few more dollars per minute through the low-fidelity medium. But Will Smith? OUR Will…

Putt, Putt – Pizza Hut’s First Commercial (1965)

Pizza Hut’s first commercial effort was light on pizza and heavy on antics. A full minute long, this commercial takes place entirely in fast-motion and features a tall man riding an admittedly sweet Mustang Jr. through town to pick up his pizza order. In doing so he gently irritates the townspeople that he encounters which…

Call Me Twice – Paula Abdul 900 Number (1980s)

One could argue that greed is just a fact of the 1-900 number life, that the entire business exists to give as little entertainment as possible for as much money as possible. There are no charitable 900 number services that I’ve found, no services that prioritize the customer’s experience over the prospect of a slow…….

A VJ on MTV – Where’s The Cap’n (1985)

In 1985, Cap’n Crunch disappeared. We – the cereal-eating populace – didn’t witness this departure in a commercial, the main way of keeping track of the lives of cereal mascots. Instead, we saw through those commercials that the departure had already happened. The hunt was on at that point, a million dollars at stake. Well,…

Skidmarks On Your Soul – Pole Position Atari 5200 Commercial (1982)

A typical approach when creating a commercial for a video game is to identify a clear target audience, identify the most appealing message you have to offer that audience, and communicate that message as uniquely as you can in a short amount of time. Actually, that’s a sound tactic for commercials of any product, not…

Get It, Not Eat It – Boglins 1-900 Number (1980s)

The mid ’80s saw a rush on dolls that “come to live with you.” Television ad space was filled with toys literally asking to be a part of your home. If Pound Puppies, Cabbage Patch Kids, or My Buddy were too cute for your taste, you could always adopt a Boglin. These grotesque rubber hand…

The Secret’s Out- Storyphone (1990s)

I know that the 900-number industry isn’t exactly known for their respectability, but this one seems particularly shady. Who doesn’t like to have fun, am I right? And what better way than to spend three dollars for the first minute and thirty-five cents for each additional minute to call a phone number to hear someone…

Popeye Sells Out – Popeye Commercials (1980s)

I get it, nothing in entertainment is sacred, cartoon characters least of all. If there’s a buck to be made by putting a character on a product, that buck will likely be made. That’s just the way it is. I’m not even a big Popeye guy. Are there big Popeye guys? If there are, I’m…