1982 brought a lot of cool things into the world. E.T. was released, as was the Commodore 64. Sony launched its first CD Player, Disney opened EPCOT Center, and Michael Jackson released Thriller. Atari blessed the world with Pitfall!, and the 1982 World’s Fair introduced us to the Sunsphere (or Wigsphere, depending on which narrative you adopt). Here’s what Christmas time looked like.
This M&M’s commercial is sixty seconds that feels more like ten minutes. The song just doesn’t end, and it really belabors the point that people like M&Ms.
Back before Folgers took the idea too far and made it creepy, here’s a sweet ‘home for the holidays’ commercial where a prodigal son wakes the family up with the smell of stale coffee.
Pillsbury delivers with a fantastic ad featuring the ever-convincingly-animated Dough Boy and a bunch of kids making holiday sugar cookies and commenting on said cookies.
How do I know I’m old? This Nylint commercial makes me nostalgic for a time when toys were sturdy and built to last.
Activision’s got a lot of flash for their unremarkable game lineup; the graphics are really nice on this spot, but Decathlon and Enduro would be pretty disappointing in a stocking – even in 1982.
Speaking of disappointing games, here’s Atari’s last gasp at trying to make some money off of their terrible E.T. game before sending it off to the landfill of legend. This is a really well-made spot.
McDonald’s tried for a prestigious image spot in 1982, in which a messianic Ronald rescues a small boy from being left behind with a “Baby and Johnny” lift off of the ice and also there’s an animated deer and rabbit for some reason.
While Burger King goes a different route, employing pre-celebrities Lea Thompson, Elisabeth Shue and Sarah Michelle Gellar to wish us all a happy holiday in song.
Poor Bell, still trying to convince the world that anybody wants a phone for Christmas.
Similarly, Duracell’s trying to pass batteries off as gifts using the big guy himself as the pitchman.
There are no “wow” gifts to be had at Sears, this almost-whispering spokesman would have you believe. Pajamas, toolboxes, 10-watt shelf stereos and discount Atari games rule the day, items mean to fill out that space under the tree between the “big” gifts.
JC Penney tries a bit harder, with a not-so-subtle nod to men on the day before Christmas that these moderately priced clothes are what their significant others want, and also a larger reminder that they need to buy them a present.
Surprisingly, though, K-Mart kills it with their upbeat pitch for gifts for every price range. Of the three department store commercials, this one’s the only one to give the impression that you could legitimately do all of your holiday shopping under one roof.
Ronco’s 1982 followup to 1981’s Mr. Microphone? Mr. Dentist. It’s an electric toothbrush. Also you can use it on some depressed dogs, as the commercial demonstrates.
My favorite of the batch is this ridiculously crude yet charming local ad for the Avalon Mall.
I’ll close it out with the creepiest one, this Old Spice commercial. Who approved this script with these characters?
Ho, Ho, Ho! No, No, No!