In July 1941, the first television commercial aired. A watch company named Bulova decided to purchase and air the world’s first TV advertisement. The said commercial ran for about ten seconds, and it was broadcasted before a Brooklyn Dodgers game against the Philadelphia Phillies. Reports say that the ad only costs around 9 dollars.
The Bulova TV commercial became a game-changer because, since the day it was aired, ads became a part of everyone’s TV watching experience. So whether you like them or hate them, no one can avoid having one to three-minute breaks from watching their favorite TV shows. More often than not, most of us ignore the commercials that we don’t find interesting. However, there are still advertisements that we’re able to stand out from all the rest and sometimes become a pop culture trend. This is why in this article, we are going to list down some of the most iconic classic TV advertisements in American TV history.
Calgon Water Softener Commercial (1970)
This advertisement shows a Caucasian woman that has an American accent, and she asks actor Calvin Jung, who is portraying to be a laundry shop owner, how he maintains his white shirt so clean. He then says that he uses an ancient Chinese secret. But the said secret was that he was using a Calgon water softener when he is washing his clothes. Calgon water softener advertises whitening and softening clothes in the United States. Still, in Europe, Calgon promotes its product based on saving washing machines from breakdown. Nevertheless, they still have the best commercials back in the day.
Tootsie Pop Commercial (1969)
This iconic Tootsie Pop commercial really got the kids thinking on how many licks does it really takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? The advertisement proved to be an effective one because it ran for decades, and it has become one of the most mind-boggling questions for kids and adults alike. This is an animated commercial that ran for about a minute.
Life Cereal (the 1970s)
Also known as “Mikey Likes It” this TV commercial featured a young boy named Mikey that has a round face and freckles. Mikey is a picky eater, but when he tasted Life Cereal, he seemed to like it. The advertisement ran for over thirteen years, and it became so iconic that the company that makes Life Cereal tried to hawk its popularity with remakes and sequels. The commercial was so popular that Mikey became the most famous picky eater kid in the country, and there are even rumors that spread, saying Mikey had died from consuming a huge amount of Pop Rocks and Coca-cola because his stomach exploded.
Folgers Coffee Ad (1985)
Also known as “Peter Comes Home”, this is a super-cheesy ad that gave its viewers that warm and fuzzy feeling. Especially to those coffee drinkers who know that there is really something special about that first pop of brewed coffee on Christmas morning. This TV commercial became so popular that Folgers decided to remake it. Still, it just wasn’t the same as the original one.
McDonald’s Big Mac Commercial (1974)
Back in 1974, when gasoline prices in the United States were high, and inflation was rambling, McDonald’s decided to release an advertisement that has a spirit-lifting song that goes “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame-seed bun.” The song was even featured in the fast-food chain’s print ad on college newspapers. Along with a catchy tune, McDonald’s also decided to ran a contest where they offered a free Big Mac to customers who can sing the said jingle in just four seconds. This advertisement aired for over a year and a half.
Charmin Bath Tissue Ad (1960)
Since the 1960s to the 1980s, America got to know the nit-picky grocery store manager named Mr. George Whipple. His existence was demarcated by his obsession to keep all the customers of his shop from squeezing the roll of a Charmin toilet paper. Charmin started these kinds of advertisements in the 1960s, and since then, the phrase “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin!” became popular. Apparently, only Mr. Whipple gets the chance to indulge and squeeze the toilet paper roll.
Dr. Pepper “I’m a Pepper” Ad (1970)
Before David Naughton became famous for starring in “An American Werewolf in London” in 1981, he starred in Dr. Pepper commercials as he happily sings and dances. During the song and dance number, David Naughton shouts proudly, shouts that he is drinking Dr. Pepper then he invites the watchers to join Dr. Pepper’s “crowd.” Basically, the advertisement just wanted the audience to identify themselves with Dr. Pepper.
Along with an energetic feel, this commercial started the catchy classic Dr. Pepper jingle, which goes “I’m a Pepper.”
Don’t Litter PSA or The Crying Indian Ad (1970)
Back then, American consumers often stereotyped Native Americans as being in having quiet strength, bold, quiet strength, and mysticism. Aside from that, they also assumed that they are “in tune” with nature. Which is why the Don’t Litter PSA ended up with the crying Indian advertisement. But here’s a fun fact, the crying Indian in the commercial was not really a real Native American at all. He was actually an Italian actor that has the screen name “Iron Eyes Cody”. During the ’70s, Iron Eyes Cody starred in a few anti-littering advertisements. Some of the first ones that saw the ads started to feel guilty about over-consumption and wastefulness.
Wendy’s “Where’s The Beef” Ad (1984)
This advertisement has initially been called “Fluffy Bun,” and it showcases the grey-haired grandmothers that are examining a new burger that has a large bun and a tiny patty that came from some unnamed restaurant they called “Home of the Big Bun.” The commercial first aired in January 1984, and the catchphrase “Where’s the Beef?” became an instant hit with the audience. It was so popular that it spawned a series of sequels as well as merchandise such as bumper stickers, shirts, a board game, and even Frisbees. The ad reportedly boosted Wendy’s annual revenue by up to 31 percent. In fact, the commercial was really hyped; it was also able to make its way into the presidential campaign in 1984.
Burger King “Have it Your Way” Ad (the 1970s)
During the early ’70s, fast-food chain Burger King rolled out a remarkably successful TV advertisement that has the catchphrase “Have It Your Way.” This commercial aimed to promote Burger King’s willingness to personalize each customer’s orders based on their preferences and tastes. This also targeted McDonald’s inflexibility and flaw. The commercial became an instant success because Burger King also delivered what they said. They allowed their customers to make their burgers without pickles, or have extra cheese.