Deadtime Stories – Freddy Krueger’s 900 Number (1980s)

There would be room in the Nightmare on Elm Street-verse for a 900 number that would end up trying to kill you. That’s a very Nightmare on Elm Street way to die, and very ’80s. We got the tongue phone in the original and again in New Nightmare, but that’s more of a Freddy prank…

The Hogarth Guarantee – Lucid Dream Machine (1980s)

Lucid Dreaming is an attractive idea; the thought of being able to achieve consciousness in your dreams and unlock the ability to control what happens is pretty exciting. Normally it takes a lot of discipline and conditioning to even try to pull it off, so of course it was only a matter of time before…

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…

Don’t Be Afraid – The Bugaloos (1970)

A bunch of kids who are actually bugs who know how to play instruments and write situational Beatles-esque music and live in a bizarre forest and have an even-more-bizarre foil? That’s Sid and Marty Krofft’s answer to The Monkees, a tab of orange sunshine in a kid’s TV landscape already drenched in psychadelia. The Bugaloos…

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…

A Night’s Work – Shadowrun Promo (1990)

Here’s one of the few official promos, perhaps the only official promo produced for Shadowrun, the cyberpunk fantasy tabletop RPG. A four-minute short film produced for GenCon 1990, “A Night’s Work” is over-and-under-produced at the same time, and really something special. Set aside the side-hopping stealth, the terribly slow pacing, the high school drama club…

Marry Me, Marie – Police Quest II (Japan) (1989)

In the mid-90s, Sierra On-Line and Pioneer Electric formed a joint venture which was uncreatively called Sierra Venture. In addition to the benefits of the acquisition of a handful of smaller developers, the venture allowed Sierra to distribute many of its signature titles in Japan for the first time. Most of these titles were localized…

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…….