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Dorothy Gray CosmeticsDorothy Gray Cold Cream / 1955

Maybe the most outrageous commercial ever filmed. It's bad enough to find out the government was doing Atomic tests on people, now we find out Madison Avenue was doing them too!

As the commercial begins, our model is prancing around downtown in a fur coat, completely self-involved and checking her make-up because there are so many shops to go to. Later, in order to prove the cleansing power of Dorothy Gray Salon Cold Cream, her face is actually covered in radioactive dirt - verified with a Geiger counter.

Dorothy Gray Cosmetics Now that the woman's skin is fully radioactive, simply clean with Dorothy Gray, and Voila! - the Geiger counter proves it, Dorothy Gray cleans better!

I'd love to know what happened to the poor woman's face!

THIS CLIP IS ON THE TVparty CD-ROM - free with your TVparty book - order it now!

Salem Cigs Salem Cigarettes / 1961

With Salem, "you smoke refreshed." You have to admire a cigarette that promises, "a breath of springtime freshness". We're talking about a cigarette, right?

Since these commercials were so successful, maybe the tobacco companies should have come out with a product that actually DID deliver a breath of spring (instead of future legal liabilities). You know, like those scented Christmas cardboard trees you see in people's cars - they could be rolled up and packaged by the carton. These commercials proved there was a market for it.

You could take this same commercial today, substitute a feminine hygiene product for the cigarette, and it would work perfectly.

Flintstones

Winston Cigarettes / 1962

If the Flintstones enjoy a good smoke, how bad can it be? This Hanna-Barbera cartoon franchise (with a big appeal to kids, but originally created for adults) wisely switched from advertising potential health risks in the Sixties to their own brand of vitamins in the Seventies. By then, cigarette advertising was banned on television, anyway.

After Wilma got pregnant (with Pebbles), the show's sponsor became Welch's Grape Juice - becoming the preferred fruit juice of the baby boomers.

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P G & E / 1970

PG&E sells gas and electric power on the west coast and they are well-known for their clever television and print ads in the Sixties and Seventies.

TVpartyThis example tries to sell families on gas appliances - like a new dryer for this poor domestic engineer who finds herself facing the battle of the weekly laundry.

The commercial ends with the hapless homemaker spread eagle over a pile of laundry in her back yard.

PRODUCTS DESIGNED
TO ATTRACT WOMEN

What is the one thing every (straight) man wants? Women. Women quivering uncontrollably before their raw, naked sex appeal. An appeal so strong, that total strangers (who also happen to be supermodels) will throw themselves at him in public.

Hai! Hai Karate / 1970

This after shave lotion came with 'self-defense' instructions to help you fight off the hordes of horny women attracted by the cheap lemony-lime scent.

There were dozens of products being advertised on TV in the Sixties that promised hysterical reactions out of suddenly oversexed women - but when truth in advertising laws (and feminist protests) took hold, suddenly they were toned down. These particular spots were so successful that Hai Karate remains a Christmas gift favorite for once-hip dads everywhere.

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Brylcream / 1962

With Brylcreem, "A Little Dab'll Do Ya!" This hair lotion promised your dad a look that's "disturbingly healthy". Disturbingly healthy?!?

In this seminal commercial, a poor schmuck is seen going to work every day with messy hair, sitting lonely on the train ride, reading a book (sure sign of a loser).

TvpartyAs soon as he adds 'a dab' of Brylcream to his hair, suddenly two gorgeous babes are hanging all over him. Better save that stuff for the ride home if you want to get to work on time!

This spot comes from an episode of '77 Sunset Strip'.

Tvparty Wildroot Cream / 1960

The modern equivalent to this commercial would be those recent catchy Mentos ad.

All a man needed in the Fifties to get the girl was slick hair, if you believe this nutty TV spot. For all I know, it might have been true forty years ago - today you need a little cash!

The premise was simple: guy meets girl on the street and gets her - thanks to his Wildroot (does that sound slightly dirty to you?). This hair cream commercial was one of the most famous of the early Sixties, using a jingle first introduced on radio back in the Thirties.

listerine TVpartyListerine Antiseptic / 1969

Listerine will help you if you're giving off "bad vibrations" like poor Dave here.

listerine The lead singer of Dave's rock band won't give him the time of day - and that's a major bummer! But after Listerine makes the scene - zowie!!

Look for a young Clifton Davis ('Amen') in this commercial.


TV Commercials on DVD
classic TVOutrageous Commercials
by Billy Ingram

 

Real Player


Ford

Ford Convertibles / 1963

You gotta love a commercial that invites you to: "Lean back and look - look at patterns. This is what a convertible was made for. To watch the blue world as it turns."

I don't know who this ad was supposed to appeal to, since there weren't as many people tripping on acid then as there are today.


Sugar Jets

Sugar Jets / 1963

Moms are always looking for ways to get their kids 'Jet-propelled', right? Well, not if they're smart...

Sugar was a major selling point for kids forty years ago. In the 70s and 80s, health conscious parents turned away from cereals with the word 'Sugar' in the brand name. Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes became simply Frosted Flakes. Sugar Smacks became Honey Smacks, and so on.

Most of these sugary cereals are off the market now, so if you want to give your kids the thrill you had as a hyped-up youngster, just pour them a bowl of Mini-thins!


Close-Up Toothpaste / 1975

If you just listen to this commercial, you might get the wrong idea.


Dole Banana

Dole Bananas / 1977

Astonishing - this commercial uses overt sexual imagery (and seductive music from Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon") to sell bananas. Not a particularly original concept, any twelve-year old could have/would have come up with it - but this Seventies spot takes the notion to the extreme.

This ad is so blatant, it would never run on TV today, no agency would even dare pitch it - they could be sued for sexual harrassment for even discussing the premise!


Stop Cable TV / 1970s

"Don't let cable TV become the monster in your living room!"

Movie theatres and local TV stations got together to fight the threat of cable with this in-theatre trailer. They used scare tactics worthy of today's highly deceptive political ads (not subject to truth in advertising laws like consumer products).

In the late Sixties, local stations and movie houses reasoned that with 30 channels to choose from (at home) their audiences would quickly dry up. Who would have guessed that cable TV would only mean more channels - still with nothing good to watch.



Lays Potato Chips / 1965

Here's a great idea - use Satan as your product spokesman. Then put it on Saturday mornings for the kids to see. Punk rock begins twelve years later.

Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion from 'The Wizard of Oz' stars in this spot. At the same time, Margaret Hamilton (who played the Wicked Witch) was selling coffee for Maxwell House.


Selling to kids:
Mighty Mouse
Zestabs / 1964

Mighty Mouse selling drugs to kids? Well, vitamins, actually. It worked, and inspired the Flintstones brand vitamins that came after. The key selling point was seeing Mighty himself taking the pill, I suppose - they sure made a big deal about it!

IF YOU SAY SO...

"While I enjoyed your site very much, I have to point out that the "radioactive cold cream test", only qualifies as "the most outrageous commercial ever filmed" to superstitious people with an exaggerated and unnecessary fear of radiation.

"It is trivially easy to construct such a test in a way that is 100% safe to the person involved. It probably was. Radioactive materials are used daily in medical testing in every hospital in the world with no ill effects whatsoever. Spreading misinformation of this sort has done the public a lot of disservice. I appreciate that this is done for humorous purposes, but as a scientist, I would still like to set the record straight."
-- Helgi Briem
Reykjavik Iceland
President of SAGA, the Society for Abolishment of Gratuitous Acronyms

I credit my long life and good looks to my "exaggerated and unnecessary fear of radiation" thank you very much! - your editor


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