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Drew Babb's 100 Greatest TV Spots of All Time_11 - 20

100 greatest commercials: number 11"Yul Brynner"
The famously Bald One, veteran of more than 4,000 performances in "The King and I," takes his cue from the late William Talman in this anti-smoking PSA shortly before his own death from cancer. The footage was originally from a "Good Morning America" broadcast when a very ill Brynner adlibbed a message. McCall pieced it together and made a hell of a spot out of it. By the time it ran, Brynner had already passed away. You can see the spot by going to
American Cancer Society
Agency: McCaffrey & McCall
Writer: Yul Brynner, David McCall
Director: "Good Morning America" crew

100 greatest commercials: number 12"The Men of Texaco"

Wonderfully dated 1950s hokum that features a platoon of pumped up/ dancing/ singing service station attendants in their forest green caps and red bowties. Their opening lyric: We are the men of Texaco/We work from Maine to Mexico. They opened the top-rated Texaco Star Theater starring Milton Berle. One of the original pump boys was Jack (father of David) Cassidy. Years later when Uncle Miltie hosted "Saturday Night Live", the cast recreated the Texaco Showmen but with we-tease-because-we-love lyrics. Garrett Morris's ditty was the greatest: I slash the top/I pick the lock/I take your car around the block/I drive it fast/I smoke some grass/If you don't like it/ Kiss my–
Agency: Benton & Bowles
Composers: Bernard (Buddy) Arnold and Heywood (Woody) Kling

100 greatest commercials: number 13Braniff International/"The End of the Plain Plane"

Mary Wells, advertising's most creative woman, ever, marshals the talents of Girard and Pucci to make Braniff the sexiest way to fly. Flight attendants performed slow, mid-flight strips of (parts of) their uniforms. Ms Wells later married Braniff CEO Harding Lawrence. A bittersweet memento of when airline travel was fun and exciting.
Agency: First: Jack Tinker, then Wells Rich Greene

100 greatest commercials: number 14Mayor John Lindsay/"The Second Toughest Job in America"

John Lindsay, tall and dashing, was called the "Republican Kennedy." In 1965 he defeated incumbent New York City Mayor Robert Wagner (and sort-of-serious candidates Norman Mailer and William Buckley) to become the first GOP occupant of Gracie Mansion since Fiorello LaGuardia. Columnist Murray Kempton inadvertently became a Lindsay adman when he wrote, "He is fresh and everyone else is tired." Lindsay adopted this as his battle cry. But by reelection time in 1969 both New York and Lindsay were a mess! Everybody, it seemed, had gone on strike: cabbies, garbage men, cops, transit workers, and public school teachers! Lindsay lost the Republican mayoral primary to a state senator. A June poll had the Democrat ahead by 14 points. Inspired consultant David Garth had this advice: tell the truth. Look into the camera. Admit you screwed up on the strikes. Admit you should've sent the snowplows to Queens when a blizzard hit in February. But then tell them nobody else could've done better because being mayor of New York is the second toughest job in America. I'll bet you big money Garth and pals didn't test these spots. They weren't poll-driven. But they were brilliant. Because they were The Truth. And they helped Lindsay win.
Reelect Mayor Lindsay/New York City
Agency: The Garth Group

100 greatest commercials: number 15VW/"1949 Auto Show"

Everybody's ga-ga over the big, sleek cars with their singing/preening "What's New" sales pitches. There's even an Andrews Sisters-like group singing the praises of immense American autos. Meanwhile, over to the side, a little nebbishy guy points out the down-to-earth, never-changing benefits of the VW Beetle: We at Volkswagen don't believe in flashy design changes. But we do believe in making a car that will be around for a long time. Almost nobody listens. Great understatement. What's even more subtly powerful is that the big fat models being hawked (DeSoto, Kaiser, Hudson) were no longer being manufactured.
Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach

100 greatest commercials: number"When I Grow Up"

Great little kids tell us they want to be brown-nosers and yes-men. Lesson: If you want a decent grownup gig, you'd better damn well spiff up your resume and visit...
Agency: Mullen Advertising, Wenham, MA
Writer: Dylan Lee
Art Director: Monica Taylor
Director: Bryan Buckley

100 greatest commercials: number 17"Johnny Smoke"

Another landmark anti-smoking PSA. Pretty cheesy animation of a cigarette who's a cowboy. There's a Frankie Laine-type music track, and the singers keep chanting, "Johnny Smoke!" The copy is razor sharp (Out of the land of the tobacco plant, comes a tall, fast-drawin'- long, lean look––Johnny Smoke! Feared by his friends and enemies alike. Feared by all who come to know the name of––Johnny Smoke! Where are you a headin'––Johnny Smoke?) The voice-over added a particularly morbid touch: How many saddles will be emptied tonight? How many men will lie still beneath the sky?– Another grand slam send-up of the Marlboro Man.
American Heart Association

100 greatest commercials: number 18Jello/"Cosby"

Nobody can tease a laugh out of a kid like Bill Cosby. And for years we couldn't wait to see the newest, largely improvised spots with Cos and a kid and some Jello pudding. Yum.
Jello Pudding
Agency: Young & Rubicam


100 greatest commercials: number 19Budweiser/"The Taste Buds"
This was a campaign that ran only on "Saturday Night Live." And only during one season. The SNL crew filmed these spots live, as just another comedy bit. Which is why the spots seem so damned spontaneous. It features a gang of pink-costumed guys who are taste buds who live in a mouth and can't wait until they're splashed with cold, delicious Budweiser. Extremely cornball stuff, but I love it! I know it took every bit of skill and bravado Creative Director Steve Kopcha could muster to sell it to the beer folks.
Agency: DMB&B (D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles)
Writer/Art Director: Ray Rhamey
Creative Director: Steve Kopcha
Director/Crew: "Saturday Night Live Staff"

100 greatest commercials: number 20Southern Airlines/"Orgy"

The spot that really launched the incandescent director Joe Sedelmaier. In the front of the plane, a traveler is treated to a Bacchanalian feast. In the back, a Soviet-style gulag without food or even seats! The announcer announces, Nobody's second class on Southern. Alas, neither client or agency still exists. But I can tell you that an entire generation of creatives would screen a Sedelmaier reel and then race to their markers and typewriters to cook up a spot Joe could shoot. I was lucky enough to do one with him for Kelly Tires. I was in tall cotton indeed.
Southern Airlines
Agency: McDonald & Little, Atlanta
Art Director: Jonis Gold

Director: Joe Sedelmaier

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