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Drew Babb's 100 Greatest TV Spots of All Time_51 - 60


100 greatest commercials: number 51Apple/"1984"

Like "Lemmings," this ran on the Super Bowl. It's the more popular of the two. (I like "Lemmings" better: See #25.) An apocalyptic view of the future, inspired by Orwell's book. A huge screen fills America's small screens. A terrifying Authority Figure barks at zombie-like people. (Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology. Where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths...) A woman appears. She hurls a hammer into the screen, smashing it to smithereens! The voiceover comes in with, On January twenty-fourth, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be 1984. Given how potent this spot is, it's not surprising that the Apple Board of Directors was stone cold silent when it was previewed. It's really surprising that after its success, they admitted how wrong they'd been!
Apple Computers
Macintosh
Agency: Chiat/Day
Writer: Steve Hayden
Art Director: Brent Thomas
Director: Ridley Scott
1984


100 greatest commercials: number 52Hewlett-Packard/"Picture Book"

Maybe the most astounding "How the hell did they do that?!" spot ever produced. In one of the campaign's early commercials, a smiling short-haired, casually dressed young man holds up a white picture frame. He puts it in front of his face. A still photograph of his face appears. He pulls the photo away. He puts up another frame. He "takes" another still. And another. And another. Each is a unique photo, but the action keeps going. Until we cut to a product beauty shot and the voiceover says The Photosmart 375. Brilliant meets simple. That line could have referred to the production values of this campaign. A note about that short-haired guy. That's director Francois Vogel himself, a grand high Poo-Bah of digital cinematography. The music–"Picture Book" by the Robins–adds a beautifully breezy audio patina. The creatives also use tracks by the Kinks and the Black Eyed Peas in subsequent commercials. One memorable spot was shot in Buenos Aires. The cityscape and the actors are sensational. It may be overstatement to say a commercial can be life-affirming. But this one comes close.
Hewlett-Packard
Digital Photography
Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco
Writer: Steve Simpson
Art Director: John Norman
Executive Producer: Josh Reynolds
Creative Director: Rich Silverstein
Director: Francois Vogel, Tool of North American and Paranoid Projects
2004


100 greatest commercials: number 53"O-S-C-A-R"

How can processed meat get into your consciousness and stay there for decades?!
This jingle, sung by great little kids, does that! Here's the unforgettable lyric: My baloney has a first name -- it's O-S-C-A-R/ My baloney has a second name, it's M-A-Y-E-R / Oh, I love to eat it every day / And if you ask me why, I'll say / 'Cause Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A! Not exactly Cole Porter, but yummy all the same.
Oscar Mayer
Agency: J. Walter Thompson
1970s


100 greatest commercials: number 54Nissan/"Toys"

Oh to be an action figure and have a 200SX! A blonde GI Joe-type toy escapes from the jaws of a dinosaur to meet a dishy brunette ("living") doll. Together they varooom away in a hot red sports car. Tagline is Enjoy the ride.
Nissan Motor Company
Agency: TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, CA
Writer: Rob Sitanen
Art Directors: Joe Hemp and John Boone
Director: Kinka Usher
1997


100 greatest commercials: number 55Alka Seltzer/"Try It, You'll Like It"

One of the many Jack Tinker spots whose copy became a national catch phrase. A wry New Yorker tells us about how somebody keeps trying to get him to eat something. He relents. He tries it. Thought I was gonna die, he groans. Which leads him to try–
Alka Seltzer
Agency: Wells Rich Greene
Writer: Mary Wells, Richard Ricah
Art Director: Stewart Green
Director: George Gomes
1971


100 greatest commercials: number 56Alpo/"Johnny & Ed Go to the Dogs"

Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon feed dogs on "The Tonight Show"– live! Most of the time the hungry pooches dove into the Alpo. But sometimes they didn't. Sometimes they peed or pooped. One dog, "Fernandez," took one look at the bowl and ran away! When another pooch wasn't particularly hungry, Johnny got down on all fours and licked Ed's hand. One gambit was to dress a dog like Carnac the Magnificent, Johnny's mystic character. Answer: Dogs bowl. Question: What do dogs do on Saturday night? Only trouble was that the Dog Carnac's headgear was waaaaay too heavy. When he leaned down to chomp some Alpo, his little head kind of stayed down. The glories of live TV! Weightman also produced live spots on "The Dick Cavett Show" and with Willard Scott on "The Today Show". Thanks to John Goodchild, Management Supervisor on Alpo for this information, and to Steve Storti at Prudential Fox & Roach, Realtors, for referring me to John.
Alpo
Agency: Weightman, Philadelphia
Creative Director/Writer: Charlie Coffey (later Weightman's CEO)
Writers: Bunker Jenkins, Alan Johnson, Bill Lunsford, among others
Producers: Mary Resnichek, Joanne Guardiani, among others
1960's through the 1980's


100 greatest commercials: number 57AT&T/"Reach Out and Touch Someone"

Marvelous smarm helps sell long distance. A great series (8 years, 60 spots) of what we used to call "slice of life," where real-life folks' lives are made richer and fuller by telephonically staying in touch with loved ones.
AT&T
Agency: N.W. Ayer
Writer: Jerry Pfiffner, among others
Don Blore did the great accompanying radio campaign
1981


100 greatest commercials: number 58"The Maytag Repairman"

The conceit in this long-running series is that Maytag appliances are so damned well built that every single Maytag repairman just sits around forever with his thumb up his butt. The first actor to portray Ol' Lonely, the bored, nothing-to-do guy, was Tom Pedi. My favorite was Jesse White. (Remember him in Harvey?) Successors have been Gordon Jump (Arthur "Big Guy" Carlson in "WKRP in Cincinnati") and Hardy Rawls. There's even an apprentice, played by Mark Devine. In one of the spots we learn that Ol' Lonely's companion is a–what else?–basset hound. Tagline: Maytag. The Dependability People.
Agency: Leo Burnett Company
1967 on


100 greatest commercials: number 59California Raisins/"Grapevine"

Marvin Gaye would've approved. A line of raisins do doo-wop proud. Claymation beyond Gumby's wildest dreams. A half-dozen or so great spots in this pool. So popular were these dudes that they got their own Christmas TV special and Saturday morning kids' show. The client even sponsored a "Name the Raisin" contest that received thousands of entries!
California Raisin Advisory Board
Agency: Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco
Writer: Seth Werner
Art Director: Dexter Fedor
Animation: Will Vinton Studio (pioneers of Claymation)
1987-1994


100 greatest commercials: number 60Chevrolet/"Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and–"

Who else could have run this wonderful cornball stuff than America's most democratic automotive nameplate? Part of the lyric: In the years I've been livin', lots of things have surely changed. Lots of things have come and gone, some even came back again. But through all the many changes, some things are for sure. And you know that's a mighty fine feelin', kinda makes you feel secure––'Cause I love baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet... Great music, great cuts, great faces. Started as a radio jingle earlier in the 70's. The Chevrolet management never fully embraced this campaign. Too bad. I sure did.
General Motors
Chevrolet Division
Agency: Campbell-Ewald
1979

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