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Classic TV Commercials

by Billy Ingram

TV Commercials on DVD

Noxema Shaving Cream

How's this for a slogan: "Take it off... take it all off with Noxema Medicated Shave." Remember the guy who shaved to the strip tease music, while the lovely female model enticed us with the can? This was one of the most effective ad campaigns of the Sixties.

"While speaking with a neighbor about her adoption of a puppy (she named him Elskling? meaning "darling" in Swedish) from the humane society around the corner - I discovered that she was the Noxema girl in your commercial. Her first name is Gunilla (hope the spelling's right). A tall good-looking woman probably in her late fifties - she owns a multi-family home here on East 58th Street in New York and spends her summers in Sweden....Hope you enjoy this tidbit."

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Ajax commercialAjax Liquid

"Ajax cleans like a white tornado!" Yeah, just ask the folks down in Florida how clean a tornado leaves your home!

Ajax had some great campaigns during the Sixties and this was a long-running series. Don't you wish, you had nothing better to talk about than your floor cleaner?!?

Critics would often site these commercials as examples of what was wrong with TV advertising, complaining that they were infantile and condescending to women in particular. But they got results.

classic TV commercialsThis concept wouldn't work well today because there are no housewives left. These days, if you can afford not to work, you probably have a maid!

Here's another White Tornado spot from the late-sixties.

classic TV commercialsCheerios  

"He's got Go-Power!"

The Cheerios Kid was introduced in the early-sixties and this is one of the first spots featuring the cartoon character (that was only recently retired).

Cheerios KidIn the early sixty second commercials, everything rhymed and the kid would save the village from all sorts of natural disasters. When he only had thirty seconds, he went from saving the entire community to rescuing just his girlfriend Sue.

In the politically correct Eighties, girlfriend Sue didn't need rescuing - she would eat Cheerios along with the kid and kick some major butt herself!

Frosted Flakes

Tony the TigerIn the Sixties and Seventies, cereals were proud of their sugary content, and many cereals featured the word sugar prominently in the product name.

That practice went out with the health conscious Eighties, the word sugar was replaced by words like 'golden' or just dropped entirely. Not that the sugar CONTENT dropped any, just the wording.

Today, Sugar Frosted Flakes is known simply as Frosted Flakes and Tony the Tiger is suing the Exxon Tiger for copyright infringement.

Tony the Tiger has been a cereal pitchman since 1952, the Exxon tiger has been around since '64. They peacefully co-existed for decades, but it's a problem now because Exxon recently brought the tiger back - and they're selling food in station convenient stores.


classic TV commercialsChef

"A meal in a minute, with the Chef's touch in it"

Here the product is the first do-it-yourself pizza in a box. Doesn't it look appetizing?!?

classic TV commercialsUNFORGETTABLE SLOGANS:

Flavor Straws are Magic Straws. At least they were in the early-sixties.

Choosy Mothers Choose Jif (this one's from 1977). The counterwoman in this spot is Bibi Osterwald, a character actress of some notoriety who worked with Imogene Coca in the 1950's and played Sophie Steinberg, the Jewish mother in "Bridget Loves Bernie".

In the last decade there was a variation of this slogan - "Moms Like You Choose Jif."


classic TV commercials

classic TV commercialsIn the valley of the jolly (ho ho ho) Green Giant.

This one's from the mid-sixties, as the food giant was moving into more specialized products.

The voice of the Jolly Green Giant was Elmer "Len" Dresslar Jr, he died in October, 2005.


Palmolive Liquid
Outspoken Manicurist Madge delivers the shocking news for the first time in this spot: "You're soaking in it!"

She went on to deliver that same line to her hapless, dried-out customers for another three decades.

classic TV commercialsIn the Seventies, a firm did a study of Beauty Salons to determine whether or not any manicurist would ever actually use Palmolive Liquid to soak their customer's nails.

Turns out that several businesses claimed they did use Palmolive liquid when they ran out of their regular stuff. It worked fine!

After all: "It softens hands while you do the dishes."

Here's the Australian version of Madge:

capn crunchCap'n Crunch

Jay Ward used his Bullwinkle characters to sell breakfast foods in the Sixties, then created the venerable Cap'n Crunch and his crew, generating megasales for cereal maker Quaker Oats.

Here's the first Cap'n Crunch spot.

capn crunch Ward had a much bigger budget for cereal commercial animation - for his half-hour cartoon shows, production was handled in Mexico to save money. With the Quaker Oats spots, animation could all be done in-house.

With likable characters that caught on right away, it wasn't long before there were half a dozen different variations of Cap'n Crunch in the supermarkets - featuring exotic ingredients like Crunch Berries.

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classic TV commercialsAjax Laundry Detergent

"Ajax Laundry Detergent is stronger than dirt." These 60's spots featured a white knight on a horse who would point his lance at people in the park and their clothes would turn magically clean. Today, that might have a dirty connotation. This series of spots ran for almost the entire decade.

classic TV commercialsThe woman in this spot: celebrated actress Frances Sternhagen, a six time Tony Award nominee who has won twice - for "The Good Doctor" and "The Heiress".


classic TV commercialsExcedrine headache
number 110
- being in bed with Charles Nelson Reilly!

Notice how they make the model plane's fuselage look like a - well, you'll see!


raisin bran sunKellogg's Raisin Bran

This Saturday Morning fave had a catchy jingle: "The rai-sunniest bran under the sun - that's me!"

The character of the unhappy sun who wanted to be a raisin was dropped after a year or two. 


Frito Bandito

Donde esta el Frito Bandito? Hispanic groups said "no mas!" and forced Frito-Lay to end one of it's most successful campaigns ever in 1970.

The snack maker never really found another effective pitchman like the Frito Bandito, a cartoon character created by the legendary Tex Avery. This was one of the last commercials, featuring the Frito Bandito on the moon.

FritosThe character had been toned down to try to quell the complaints, he no longer went around stealing Fritos from everyone, he was just scamming them. Mel Blanc provided the Bandito's voice.

The Frito Bandito was unsuccessfully replaced by W.C. Fritos (a cartoon take-off on film comedian W.C. Fields) for a couple of years.


Wham- O Frisbee

One of the catchiest jingles ever written, along with strong visuals created on a small budget, come together to create demand for a product so simple it's hard to believe no one thought about it before the Sixties! Watch out for Grandma, she's really a guy in old lady drag.

Wham-O introduced a number of popular products in the Sixties - including reviving the Hula Hoop as the 'Shoop Shoop Hula Hoop'.

"Betcha can't eat just one!" Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion in 'The Wizard of Oz') is seen here as the Devil selling snack foods.

Appropriate, but not terribly successful. (I wonder if his business cards said Cowardly Lion or Devil?)

classic TV commercialsElectricity

"Live better electrically."

Why advertise electricity? With brownouts happening last year in some states, this probably wouldn't be a good idea today, but this snappy tune had Sixties' audiences (and transformers) humming.

Why don't you go and turn on the air conditioner right now...


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Can you ever remember a time when 7-up WASN'T known as the Uncola? I doubt it - here are the roots of that campaign from the Sixties.

A hand in a box (ala Thing on the Addam's Family) works hard for his Uncola refreshment.

abcIn another memorable commercial (when the slogan was 'See the light of 7-up'), a hamburger comes into a Men's Store to be fitted - and what's more fitting than the Uncola? "We've got the same thing in a sugar free" is the salesman's pitch.

Hey Billy,
Your piece on 7-UP commercials reminded me of a 7-UP ad that scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. The ad showed a guy walking around with a giant 7-UP bottle (a woman wearing a 7-UP bottle costume). In the voiceover, he talked about their relationship and how much they were in love.

The frightening part was when the guy returned home one day and found the bottle sprawled out on the floor, dead. I seem to recall him saying something in the voiceover about "the other guys getting to his 7-UP." The scene was really creepy and had a weird, implied gang rape vibe to it. The commercial ended with the guy finding true love with a can of 7-UP. Very strange...

Regards, John Nolan

Hawaiian Punch

"How about a nice Hawaiian Punch?" Remember the little guy who went around promising liquid refreshment but instead delivered a sock on the jaw?

That little animated character started out as the one being picked on, but when the commercials were cut to thirty seconds, he suddenly became the aggressor. There was no time to show the little guy being pummeled, the justification for his outrageous behavior.

Hawaiian Punch was one of the first to extend their brand into new products when they introduced three new flavors around 1970, Cap'n Crunch was another brand name pioneer that had long coattails.


Another first - the initial appearance of the Pillsbury doughboy.

This character is still featured in Pillsbury commercials and probably will be forever.

After three decades of the doughboy, ironically, Americans are starting to look more and more like him. Or maybe that's not ironic at all.

Playtex Girdles

The camera pans up to a beautiful woman, and what does she have on her mind? "My girdle is killing me!"

This series was lampooned widely on variety shows of the era, which was great for Playtex.



Imperial Margarine

"Flavor so good, it's fit for a king". This ad features Joe Flynn from McHale's Navy as a husband who's margarine needs MUST be met!

Later the slogan changed to "So good it's fit for a queen" which would have worked fine in this spot, if what I've heard about Joe Flynn is true!


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If it actually worked, it would have been the coolest product ever created: you step on the kitchen floor and a plastic shield forms under your shoes whisking you to wherever you want to go - like a see-through magic carpet or a skateboard without those pesky wheels. I'm still waiting for them to invent this one!

Looking for a good name for your punk band? How about 'Jimmy's Black Heel Marks."


Thanks to Jeff Vilencia
and David Mikelberg.

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