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Best Vintage TV Commercials of the 80s

The 80s experienced a boom of new channels and the cable TV, which also had a profound impact on TV commercials. People started experimenting with new ideas and the advertisement industry witnessed a shift from a descriptive and antiqued approach to narrative-driven and interesting TV commercials. 

The change did not happen overnight and it took quite some time for ads to become ‘modern’. This post covers some of the best vintage TV commercials that helped reshape the advertisement industry and still remain relevant. 

Apple (1984)

Apple’s famous 1984 ad was arguably one of the greatest Super Bowl commercials and mesmerized everyone by its state-of-the-art cinematography.  Apple hired Ridley Scott (Director of Blade Runner) to come up with a breathtaking commercial that can make a major statement. 

Scott’s filmmaking mastery combined with his advertising experience enabled him to create one of the best commercials of the 80s. The 1-minute ad aired just once during Super Bowl, but it left an impression that lasted for decades. The ad also shaped the future of Super Bowl ads and made them ‘a thing’.

Coca-Cola (1985)

Coca-Cola is behind some of the most iconic ads in the recent history, including the 80s ‘Catch the Wave’. The ad campaign for the ‘New Coke’ aired during the 80s Cola war and tried to belittle Pepsi by starring Max Headroom, a stuttering and subversive AI character that praised Coke in his own weird way. Although the new recipe failed to gain popularity, the ad campaign did manage to attract a lot of attention.

Diet Pepsi (1989)

There is one taste that just cannot be duplicated. Diet Pepsi: Taste that’s generations ahead. Michael J Fox. starred in this Diet Pepsi ad campaign and helped Pepsi fly high in the soft drink business.

Lurpak (1986)

While a butter ad might not be on top of most people’s list, this 1986 ‘Douglas’ ad changed how such ads were made. The animated character brought some cheerfulness to butter ads that mostly focused on its rudimentary uses.

Toys R Us (1989)

Promising an almost unlimited toy collection under one roof, the ‘Magical Place’ is a perfect example of ads trying to capture childhood imagination. The ad was aired again in 2009 on company’s quarter-century birthday, allowing millions to recall their sweet memories of the 80s.

OXO (1983)

OXO’s ‘My Christmas’ ad sells the simplicity of English Christmas and features a mum preparing dinner while the kids run wild. The ad was aired again in 2014 on British television stations on Christmas after the key star Lynda Bellingham passed away. 

Coca-Cola (1980)

The 1980 Super Bowl ad was the first to star a black male (NFL legend Joe Greene) and became an inspiration for the 1981 movie “The Steeler and the Pittsburgh Kid.” The ad had a profound effect and made viewers send letters full of excitement and gratitude.

In 2011 it was named the best Super Bowl ad ever by Advertising Age readers. Coca-Cola made multiple versions of the ad for different international audiences featuring various stars, including soccer stars such as Diego Maradona.

Windows 1.0 (1986)

Steve Ballmer shows off Windows 1.0 features in a unique fashion. He tries to surprise viewers and make them believe they are getting an incredible value for just $99.

Radio Shack

The ad highlights how easy it is to use their system that even kids can navigate through it with no difficulty. The kids seem to accomplish all tasks with ease and push technological boundaries like experts.

Centel

Probably the first cell phone ad, this tv commercial by Cental showcases how its cell phone removes the physical barriers and brings people closer. It associates a modern life style and convenience with use of their mobile technology.

Wendy’s

‘Where’s the Beef?’ aired in 1984 and straightforwardly called out Burger King and McDonalds for skimping beef on their burgers. The ad campaign boosted Wendy’s revenue by 31% and also played a supporting role in the Democratic primaries.

Land Rover

The Best 4x4xfar. Nothing gets in the way of a Land Rover. This 1986 ad shows a Land Rover scaling a dam for the hell of it and portrays their vehicles as something that cannot be stopped by anything.

Volkswagen Jetta

The ad neatly executes a simple idea and parades British and German cars to demonstrate how Jetta is wider, has a bigger boot and offers more leg room than all others.

BP

This BP tv commercial takes a pizza delivery guy on an interesting journey to what goes inside the BP research labs.

Ford Sierra

The classic car advert had a character just like the car and is bound to stir up nostalgia.

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