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
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!
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.
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.
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.
This 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.
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.
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.
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.
Moms are always looking for
ways to get their kids 'Jet-propelled', right? Well, not if
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
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
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
"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.
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!
YOU SAY SO...
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.
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
credit my long life and good looks to my "exaggerated and unnecessary
fear of radiation" thank you very much! - your editor