By Harry McCracken | Thursday, December 25, 2008 at 4:47 am
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m kind of addicted to watching old TV commercials on YouTube. Especially ones involving computers and electronics. And today, I have an excuse to share a bunch of them with you, in no particular order.
1. Mattel Electronics, early 1980s. Hal “Otis the Town Drunk” Smith plays a Santa who shills for an offer involving $2-$12 in cash back if you bought “qualifying” Mattel Electronics games and Pepsi. Never trust a Santa who wears a hat shaped like a football and tries to convince you that rebates are worth it.
After the jump, lots more of this stuff–don’t say I didn’t warn you…
2. Sears, 1977: Watching this one, I feel retroactive pity for the folks who opted for the 8-track option over cassette. I also wonder why “Bonnie’s” Christmas gift was left unwrapped and plugged in.
3. Future Shop, 1997. This uncommonly cheesy Canadian Santa ignores the kid’s request for CDs and uses his “magic television” to try and sell him other products on credit. I’m not so sure that the “Thanks a lot, Santa!” at the end isn’t sarcastic.
4. Circuit City, 1991. There’s something oddly clinical and emotionless about this ad, with its Circuit City shoppers milling around like lab rats. But maybe that’s preferable to another Huckster Santa spot.
5. Kodak, 1977. Santa and his troupe of kid dancers in multicolor PJs sell the Kodak “Handle” instant camera, a product which was ruled illegal in 1985.
6. Radio Shack, 1984. Cordless phone? Who needs one when you can get a phone with a 16-foot cord?
7. Radio Shack, mid-to-late 1980s. Only in a commercial would a father describe the $129.95 computer he bought his kid as selling for “less than $130.” The fact that this ad dates from the Reagan era is given away by “Jimmy’s” Gipper-like hairdo.
8. Nobody Beats the Wiz, 1986. In 1986, you–or, in this case, Tiny Tim (?)–still had to explain to consumers that VCRs can be programmed.
9. Atari, 1982. Kids hated the E.T. game for the 2600 console so much that it helped bring about Atari’s downfall. The commercial’s not so hot, either–explain to me why is E.T. is wearing a Santa suit here?
10. Crazy Eddie, early 1980s. There’s something sort of honest and refreshing about dispensing with a fake-Santa pitchman and simply putting Jerry Carroll, the Crazy Eddie guy, in a Santa suit. If I ever knew about Emerson’s Arcadia 2001 console, I’d forgotten about it.
11. Crazy Eddie, mid 1980s. The only thing better than the Crazy Eddie guy in a Santa suit is the Crazy Eddit guy in a Santa suit…in August.
12. Apple, mid-1990s. Is it just me, or is there something mean-spirited about attacking Windows in a Christmas ad? Also, why is the dude wearing a Santa suit?
BONUS NON-VINTAGE AD: Apple, 2008. Interestingly enough, in this year’s Apple commercial, it’s the Windows computer (in the guise of “PC”) that’s mean-spirited.