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TV Commercials
1970 - 1975

by Billy 'Mad Man' Ingram

In Hollywood, Billy Ingram spent 15 years working in
marketing & advertising for the entertainment industry.

TV CommercialsTelevision advertising was becoming more sophisticated by the early-1970s - but not by much. The typical early-seventies commercial would still feature actors representing just plain folks using a product or an expert-looking person extolling the products virtue, or some gimmicky hook to get you to, hopefully, remember the product.

During the early-seventies commercial breaks during primetime were rarely longer than one minute so there was a great deal less clutter to break through for advertisers on TV. Beauty products, gasoline, automobiles, chemical companies, soap, food, cleaning products, toys, Coke, Pepsi and McDonalds dominated the primetime and daytime commercial landscape during this period.

Let's look at some prime examples of TV commercials from the first half of the 'Me Decade.'

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Classic TV Commercials of the 1970s!

1970s TV Commercials For Women!

Classic TV commercialsTimex / 1975
Timex targeted women in this ad for a sleek watch line designed for 1970's sensibilities. Lots of odd shapes and ugly fake gold, you know the type. Your grandma or grandpa may be wearing one of these watches right now.

Timex was a major advertiser on network TV from the very beginning and dominated the market as a result.

Thanks to decades of strong marketing, by the time this TV ad aired one out of every two watches bought in the U.S. was a Timex.

1970s TV commercials

Moisturelle / 1972
"I don't use soap anymore" was another catchy phrase that caught on only to be ridiculed on variety shows - which was a home run for the product and helped reinforce the message and solidify the slogan in people's minds.

Kodak TV commercialsKodak / 1975
Kodak had been around since the 1880s when they introduced roll film, making photography accessible to the general public.

In 1972 Kodak shrank their immensely popular Instamatic cameras down to pocket size; as a result, by 1975 they'd sold a whopping 25 million units of these mini-cameras.

 

No matter how small the camera, you needed bulky, expensive flash bulbs to take pictures indoors. The Trimlight Instamatic camera in 1975 was a slight innovation on the line with a reversible flash bulb package that was almost as big as the camera itself. This 8 bulb Flipflash (needing no battery) was introduced in 1975.

TV commercials

Excedrin PM / 1971
Combining aspirin and sleep aids must have seemed like a natural - they were both being advertised on television in abundance since the earliest days.

1970's TV commercialsMiss Clairol / 1975
When you have a winning campaign, you try to get as much mileage out of it as you can.

"Does she or doesn't she (only her hairdresser knows for sure)" was such an effective slogan it was kept around for decades, debuting in print ads way back in 1933.

Here's an example from the 1960s:

 

TV commercials

Bacchus / 1970
The 1970 equivalent of those silly Axe body spray commercials you see today. Just look at the opening shot - what does that remind you of?!? Could this be anymore obviously phallic?

TV Commercials in the 1970sCommercials you would
see during the daytime hours.

These ads aired between morning programs because they appealed to the type of person who might be home during the day - women and sick people.

Behold & Bufferin / 1970 - there were lots of housewives doing the dusting with a headache coming on back then, I guess.

Dole Pineapple / 1970 - exotic Hawaiian locales give this product an air of authenticity.

Future / 1970 - making floor polish seem more modern.

Amy Vanderbilt commercialsGlade / 1970 - this one features etiquette guru Amy Vanderbilt who died in 1974 after falling from a second floor window. Talk about your social faux pauxs - suicide was not ruled out.

Keds Grasshoppers / 1971 - casual slip-on sneakers for women, these are still being sold.

Lipton & Wishbone / 1971 - a full commercial break from a morning show. Lipton invested heavily in peppy jingles during the 1970s, an attempt to break free of their their once stodgy image. It paid off handsomely.

Listerine / 1970 - long running series of ads that featured people awkwardly telling someone important that they had bad breath.

Amy Vanderbilt commercialsLoving Care / 1971 - another long-lasting slogan, "You're not getting older, you're getting better."

Nice & Easy / 1971 - making hair color seem more modern.

But will they catch on?

1970's TV commercials

Tote'em Bags / 1970
Plastic bags for transporting food really took off as the 1970s came of age. Come to think of it, a major upsurge in pot sales may have accounted for a lot of those sales.


1970's TV ads

Chux / 1970
Would you buy a disposable diaper named Chux? Actually, the whole idea of buying disposable diapers was relatively new in 1970. They had been around in one form or another since the 1930s (Chux were actually introduced in 1932) but didn't become popular until affordable Pampers were introduced in 1966, quickly becoming the best-selling brand and putting once busy baby diaper cleaning services out of business. The Chux brand name is primarily used for adult diapers now.

Arm & Hanmmer 1970s commercialsArm & Hammer Baking Soda / 1975
Another genius campaign. With fewer and fewer people baking at home, Arm & Hammer Baking Soda could have become a forgotten relic on the grocery store shelves, like baker's chocolate or nonpareils.

Instead A&H re-marketed the product with an entirely different focus, as a deodorizer for your refrigerator. It works.

Did you know that if you have an article of clothing that smells smokey or whatever, you can put it in a small, enclosed space with a box of baking soda it absorbs the odor? Saves on dry cleaning!

McDonalds commercials

McDonald's / 1975
By the mid-seventies kids had become the primary focus for McDonald's advertising. Today McDonald's is the nation's fourth-largest advertiser and much of their ad budget is geared towards adults.

1970's TV commercialsAim / 1975
Introducing a new product can be tricky. How do you get your message across AND introduce the unique properties of the stuff you're trying to sell at the same time? How to make toothpaste exciting, innovative but trustworthy?

Proctor & Gamble did a bang up job when they introduced Aim toothpaste. Crest toothpaste, launched in 1955, was America's favorite by a wide margin largely because it was endorsed by the American Dental Association.

Aim (introduced in 1973) was a gel, like hot-selling Close-up which was introduced in 1970. What set Aim apart was the quality of the advertising, smart without being clever, selling the cosmetic and therapeutic nature of the product. Thanks to commercials like this one Aim quickly captured 10% of the toothpaste market.

McDonalds commercials

Anacin / 1975
Anacin ads were always a bit over the top, this is no exception, they were trying to appeal to the stressed out ladies like it was a tranquilizer or something.

A decade earlier, Anacin had one of the most memorable classic commercial campaigns of all time - "Please mother, I'd rather do it myself!"

Chuck Wagon commercialsChuck Wagon / 1971
Boy, was this a long running campaign - I swear, I think it started in the 1950s, I know it ran incessantly in the 1960s.

In every variation some poor pup is bewildered by a miniature chuck wagon, then scurries through the home and into the kitchen cabinet after it. The only real variation would be the breed of dog that gets plagued by the unstoppable chuck wagon before the announcer (western icon Denver Pyle) extols the virtues of Chuck Wagon Instant Dinner with meaty, juicy "chunks." What those "chunks" were is anyone's guess.

McDonalds commercials

Kawasaki / 1972
"Kawasaki lets the good times roll" was another clever jingle, this commercial features folks you wouldn't normally expect to find on a motorcycle.

Car commercials1970 Chevy
Caprice
/ 1969
Now this was a beautiful car, a luxurious version of the Chevelle and competition for the best selling Olds Cutlass, another damn fine 1970 ride. Chevy was making some solid cars during these years. Although modified for 1970 (including the new triple vertical taillights), this was the last model year for this Chevy Caprice design, it actually got bigger (and much uglier) before it got smaller.

The 1970 Chevy Caprice came with all the amenities - like an 8 Track Tape player and an optional 454 cubic-inch, 390 horsepower Turbo Jet V8 engine that would net you an impressive 5 miles per gallon - of premium gas.

Just think, in this car you could go a whole 100 miles on $60 worth of gas today - a mere 60 cents a mile. But gas was only about 25 cents a gallon in 1970 so who cared? Original purchase price - around $2,500. The announcer was Lloyd Bridges.

cat food commercials

Friskies Buffet / 1972
"No cat ever walked away from Friskies Buffet"

Can cat food be upscale? That was the idea behind these ads and it worked, leading to other cat food makers to roll out their own 'Fancy Feasts.' Friskies Buffet is the top selling cat food in the USA thanks to ads like this one.

TV commercials in the 1970sFoster Grant / 1972
"Who's behind those Foster Grants?" Everyday people that had delusions of grandeur, if you believe this ad.

There were a number of variations on this theme during the 1960s & 1970s, the first "Who's behind" ads featured celebrities like Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer, and Julie Christie.

Foster Grants had been around since 1929 and were favored by Elvis Presley.

Classic TV Commercials of the 1970s!

1970s TV Commercials for Women!


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