Favorite Commercials | Musical Commercials | Science Fiction Commercials | 1960's | 1970's | 1980's | 1990's | 2000's | 2010's | The IHOP French Toast Commercial

Classic Film and Television Home Page (with many articles on directors)

Commercials

This lists some TV commercials I enjoyed over the years. I usually know little about them - neither their writers and directors, nor the official titles of the commercials.

Musical Commercials

(Clark Gum) Singing commercial, showing a whole small town marching along to a jingle, "Clark pours on the Cinnamon, in new Clark Cinnamon Gum. They Pour it on!"

(Great American Soups) Ann Miller's kitchen opens up to reveal an old style movie set, and she does a big tap dance routine to celebrate the soup. By Stan Freberg. (1970) Video.

(Detroit Institute of Arts) People around the art museum sing "You Gotta Have Art", a version of the song "Heart" from the musical Damn Yankees. They are often dressed and posed like the paintings. They form geometric patterns, and also raise their arms in some simple choreography. There are also enthusiastic camera movements. Upbeat, and a fine time capsule of the museum back then. (1976). Video.

(Almond Joy) A series of comic commercials, often with the song "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't." A pilot in a small plane flies upside down. He wears a leather jacket and matching leather helmet, plus gloves and googles. A magician sometimes produces a gorilla, sometimes a rabbit. (1977). Video. A jockey rides facing backwards. A young man and woman have encounters running towards each other. She winds up feeding him a candy bar. (1977). Video. A full-fledged high school musical, with various people and groups singing. (1980) Video. A young woman is romanced by a school athlete, who wears an award jacket saying he is "COACH".

(Dr Pepper) A young man dancing around a fancy high rise office, singing Good Lovin' (1980) Video and Video. Bad Case of Lovin' You (1980) Video.

(Coors Light) A 1950's dance party. Musical includes a guy doing a hula-hoop. (1985). Video.

(Hanes stockings) From the long-running series "Gentlemen Prefer Hanes". 1) A man in a black tuxedo at a party is confused by a woman who shows up in various colored dresses. (1985). Video. 2) Australian dancer Antony Hamilton recreates Fred Astaire's chair number from the movie Top Hat, complete with white tie and tails.

(Sticklets gum) A couple does a tango and other fancy dance moves. (1986). Video.

(Pillsbury Bundt Pineapple Creme Cake) A woman dancer at an elegant party gets distracted by the cake (1987). Video.

(Smirnoff Raw Teas) "Tea Partay". Preppies rap about tea, in a spoof of hip-hop videos. Nicely done musical. (2006)

(DSW shoe stores) People in funky but beautiful clothes attend a small dance party in a modernistic building. The hero wears a red plaid tuxedo. Their funky shoes were obtained at the store. Song: "Let's Dance". (2013). Video and Video. A related commercial at a pool party has a man making an entrance in the pool wearing a rubber diving suit over his clothes, a James Bond-like touch: Video and Video.

(Chevrolet Impala) A man (Edward McMahon) in a gray retro-style tuxedo has glamorous old-fashioned adventures, while people look on admiringly. He winds up taking his date to a drive-in movie. "Classic is back," the narrator intones at the end, while Frank Sinatra sings "Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)". Lots of pink objects against a none-too-colorful background suggest the film Pleasantville. (2013). Video.

(Infiniti QX60) "Pool Party". A man drives the car to the tune of "The Baddest Man Alive". (2016). Video.

(Reddi Wip) This commercial was seemingly shot live, as part of the live-broadcast television musical "Hairspray Live!" It is a spectacular long-take camera movement, complete with dance number choreographed by Greg Graham, shot backstage on the set of "Hairspray Live!" It features the Milkman, played by Evan Strand. His uniform is red and white with a blue bow tie, like the colors of the Reddi Wip can. Video. The Milkman also shows up briefly in the Hairspray number "Good Morning Baltimore", where we see his red milk truck, with the Reddi Wip logo on its side. He also wears a red-peaked uniform cap in this number. Even his milk bottles match the color scheme: white, with either blue caps or red caps. Video. Video. (2016). The Hairspray cast created a promotional film of the number "You Can't Stop the Beat". Video. (2016). A trailer/commercial does a good job explaining the cast and setting: Video.


Science Fiction Commercials

See also my list of Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and High Technology Films.

(Diet Dr Pepper) A woman in the future has to figure out which of three men isn't a robot. (1980) Video.

(Dr Pepper) "A Far Star Bar". A man in a complex silver-and-gray space uniform and cowboy hat goes into a space bar. This seems to be actor Ernie Townsend (real name Ernest Pysher), best known for playing good guy Cliff Nelson on the soap opera The Edge of Night. (1980) Video and Video. See also this Edge of Night Video (1983), and Interview (1982).

(Cherry Coke) A time traveler from the future arrives in the 1950's for a cherry coke. He is driving a bright red time machine, which looks something like a race car, and wears a gray space uniform. Video or Video.

(Cherry Coke) "Cherry Boulevard". 1950's imagery is put through special effects and mildly avant-garde filming. That might be Matt LeBlanc, who is transformed from being a Teenage Wolfman. (1986) Video or Video.

(Charlex, Abekas A-62) Demo for new special effects technology. This is more an "industrial film" than a "commercial". (1986). Video.

(New Coke) A man in a white shirt and gray trousers in a tropical room with a huge ceiling fan. He does science fictional things with a small TV set. (1987) Video.

(Panasonic video recorders) A man dances to a recording of Robert Palmer's video "Addicted to Love" in his penthouse apartment. Swirls of color come out of his TV, which keep changing the colors of his shirt and pants. Really striking. (1986). Video.

(Pontiac Firebird Trans Am) Shows car being created with computer design. Then driven in a computer-animated city of the future. (1982). Video.

(Amoco Gas) Special effects recalling the Stargate episode in 2001. Designer: Bernard Lodge. Optical effects: Filmfex. (1978). Video.

(Amoco Gas) A man clad in black leather, known as the Road Worrier, is interrogated by his girlfriend's father when he comes to pick her up for a date. Classic spoof of the Mad Max Road Warrior films. (1984). (Internet research suggests the giant vehicle in the commercial is the specially built Landmaster from the science fiction film Damnation Alley (1977).) Video or Video.

(Contac cold medicine) A man on a spaceship in the future has a cold. He wears silver futuristic clothes. (1986). Video.

(Motel 6) "Metamorphosis". A transforming car and clothes move through many styles and ages. (2012). Video.

(Esurance Insurance) "Insurance from the Future". A man travels back in time, to change his personal history. (2013). Video.

(Boeing) "You Just Wait". A science fiction look at the future in 2116. (2016). Creators: Peter Serchuk, Ben Smith. Video. Making-of: Video.

(RoboTwist) We don't have flying cars, but we do have RoboTwist, a device that opens stuck jars! (2016). Writer/Creative Director: Jordan Pine. Directors: Steve Zeoli, Mark Ciersdorff. Video.

High Tech Information

(National Coffee Association) Various achievers including football player Ken Anderson, quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals, and author Kurt Vonnegut promote the idea that coffee is a good drink for ambitious people. "Join the Coffee Achievers". Shot in a pseudo-documentary style. (1983). Video.

(Pacific Bell) Frank Herbert talks about information pouring over phone lines, in a future world much resembling the Internet and the "information superhighway". (1985). Video.

(The Library) Strange but meaningful public service spot telling teens that they can "be cool on the inside too" by visiting the library. Very hip. (1989). Video.

(United Negro College Fund) Inventions by African-Americans are highlighted. We see people in daily life using key pieces of technology. The devices then get surrounded by oval halos of light. Vivid commercial that reminds people of the contributions of black scientists and inventors. The commercial ends with the Fund's long time theme "A mind is a terrible thing to waste". (2010). Video.

Other Information

(Public Service Announcement for the US Department of Labor) Batgirl threatens to sue Batman and Robin for sex discrimination in her job. Very funny, and with a good point. (1972). Video.

(Chevrolet) Jerry Orbach tells how new Chevrolet cars have five more cubic feet of space. He illustrates with boxes that are each a cubic foot: a vivid method of conveying spacial information. (1977). Video.

The "Consumer Information Catalog" public service ads of free things from the US Government: ("Write to Pueblo, Colorado!"). "Locomotive": One, gently spoofing old mystery movies set on trains, is a gem. (circa 1980?). "Ocean Liner": On a cruise ship (1982). Video. See also "The Consumer Information Catalog", which has a wide variety of folks using the catalog (1978). Video. And a spot modifying old footage: Video.

(MicroAge computer store) A businessman talks about what the store can do to help computerize a business. The narrator's suit and shirt seem nearly sculpted on him. (1986). Video (second commercial on video).

(Highland Appliance) A lost Russian submarine crew winds up at an appliance sale, which is billed as an "International Event". Sailor Plotchney romances a reluctant woman with the catchphrase "Fifty watts per channel, Babycakes!" Funny, and it became a cult favorite. (1987). Video.

"Erase the Hate". Public Service Announcements denouncing prejudice against minority groups, run on the USA Network. Video. One spot has Rick Rossovich as narrator, telling people "Hate is ugly! It will get you nowhere!" (circa 1995-1999).

Fantasy

(Nestea Iced Tea) Men fall backwards into swimming pools, in this series: "The Nestea Plunge". 1) A man in full marching band uniform 2) A member of a Texas road crew, in gray sweatshirt. 3) Some episodes are fantasies. This one recalls Cocteau's Blood of a Poet: Video.

(Fairy Tails) Tropical bird dolls for little girls come in dazzling colors. (1988). Video.

(Fruitopia) Kaleidoscope pictures of fruit swirl around, to advertise the fruit drink Fruitopia. Dazzling color. (1994). Video. Video. Video.

(Mascara) This commercial promoting "giant" eyelashes, shows its heroines wandering around looking like giants, inside a scale model of a skyscraper filled city. It's delightful. And reminds one of the scale model cities in such early films as Metropolis (Lang) and Sous les toits de Paris (Clair). Related: Video.


1960's

(Brylcreem hair product) College football players in white uniforms enter the field one by one, to the cheers of fans. "I've Come Back - To Brylcreem", they say one after another. Definitive look at the glamour of football.

(Pontiac Firebird) The sports car is delivered to a groom in white tie and tails. Later, a man wearing a Mod, long-pointed collar shirt cruises the night in the car.

(Ginger Ale) A young man offers an engagement ring to a woman, under a tree.

1970's

(Pro Keds shoes) A runner practices racing in deserted city streets in early morning hours. An older milkman tells him he "is looking good". He is eventually magically changed into shiny running clothes at the end of the spot.

(Dial Soap) An amateur racecar driver teases his wife about the danger of the track, making her very nervous, then gets dressed up in a silver racing suit for a big date with her afterwards. "I might be crazy," he tells the camera with a grin as he gets all dressed up, "but I'm not stupid".

(Pabst Extra Light Beer) Actor John Beck, in a light gray suede (?) jacket, tells a bar full of friends about "The Facts of Light". "Fact!" he repeatedly says, with enthusiasm and authority: he is laying down the law. (1978). Later in the same series of commercials, on a large set of tennis courts, Beck in a shiny blue warm-up suit talks to another player in his shiny red warm-up suit.

(Spaghetti) Dr. Joyce Brothers' mother shows up, and tells how Joyce always said that good meals were psychologically comforting. One of the campiest TV spots ever made.

(Trouble cologne) A man wearing Trouble cologne gets involved in a bar fight with an angry looking yuppie in a fancy, expensive-looking black leather jacket. We see the muscle-man yuppie from the neck down, while he clenches his fists.

1980's

For some reason, I liked a lot of ads from around 1984. This was the heyday of MTV, and some of these were just glamorous as all get out:

(Cherry Coke) Various relaxing guys and their girlfriends, including a man in a leather jacket lying in the trunk of a car, and two guys on a motorcycle. (1986) Video.

(Soft Drink) A man dressed all in gray on a beach.

(Nabisco Shredded Wheat) The set gets turned upside down. (1989). Video.

(Pepsi) ESP researchers do more than they plan, in fun spoof (1987). Video.

(Coke) Various spiffed up people go out on the town on Saturday night, including four young men who get out of a car in precise formation.

(Coke) A woman slaps a handsome man who has said something to her. He looks very pleased with himself, and wears a black shirt. We also see a row of Marines in full dress uniform saluting in unison. Graduates in red-orange throwing off their caps. And an athlete in red shorts taking a break. (1985). Video

(Coffee) A man takes his girl friend bird watching. He wears a complex looking black leather jacket, very dressy and authoritative looking.

(Grape-Nuts) A forest ranger riding a horse while wearing a leather bomber jacket. "Are you ready for Grape-Nuts?" he asks the audience.

(Grape-Nuts) A couple engages in romantic banter. (1989). Video or Video.

(Listerine) Two commercials, about 1) a rock band 2) men working in a clothing store.

(Hagar coordinates) A ship's Captain magically redresses a sloppy young man in sharp clothes.

(Millionaire cologne) "What do you wear when you want to feel like a Million bucks?" Various men answer, culminating in a man dressed for success in a pinstripe suit (Douglas Barr). The earlier men explain their favorite clothes items, such as "my lucky hat", putting on his cowboy hat, but the man in the pinstripe suit says cockily, "You have to ask?" Seen today, his suit seems conventional. Seen in the early 1980's, his clothes looked radical and innovative. (1980). Video.

(Furniture) A smiling executive in a pinstripe suit orders a working man in overalls to move around a lot of furniture.

(Shampoo) Two men: one in a coat and tie, directs a photo shoot with pretty women models; another runs in a white warm-up suit; at the end, both friends are in matching black tuxes.

(Cathay Pacific airline) A young, well-dressed businessman takes a business flight to Hong Kong. Filmed with superimposed, transparent images in rectangular subregions of the screen. (1988). Video.

(Heinz Ketchup) Matt LeBlanc pours it slowly, off a building edge. (1987).

(Heinz Ketchup) A little kid imagines outer space video games while using ketchup. Cute and imaginative. (1987).

(Kit Kat) Sailors trapped on a desert island fantasize about Kit Kat candy bars.

(?) A yuppie in a sports car encounters a giant billboard of a shirtless man.

(7-Up) A man in a shirt and tie, stuck in a giant bottle, struggles to break out and express his feelings.

(Coffee?) Actors shoot a TV cop show. Actors dressed as cops in light blue uniforms chase an actor dressed as a crook in a leather jacket. Then relax with him afterwards in a lunch room.

(Windex) A young women polishes up a million crystal ornaments in her home using Windex window cleaning spray.

(Taco Bell) Four guys in silver jackets hang out near a sports car. "It's a sweet machine!" one says.

(MasterCard) Jackie Gleason gets to say "How Sweet It Is!" one more time. (1986).

(Theragran-M vitamins) People show a couch potato all the things he could doing if he had more energy. Several of the men throw him reproachful looks. One even takes his dog away from him. (1988). Video.

(?) College athletes are dressed to the nines for a school banquet in matching gray suits. The middle-aged coach and his beaming wife preside over it.

(Big Red gum) The gum helps people kiss longer. A kissing couple is saluted by one of three ship's officers in white uniforms. (1983). Video.

(Wrigley's Spearmint gum) A young naval officer, dressed in white uniform, learns how to salute and move. He dresses in front of a base bathroom mirror, part of a series of officers in identical white uniforms. Another white uniform hangs from a bathroom rod in the background. He learns how to turn and move with precision, on a white-tiled bathroom floor, and to extend a white gloved hand, giving a big smile that is both enthusiastic and rehearsed. He then salutes precisely as part of a uniformed line-up at the end, while the sunlight gleams off his uniform cap's black visor. (January 1986). Video.

(Wrigley's Extra gum) Young men out bicycling, piloting a glider and riding in a cable car chew gum. The man in the cable car has a white shirt and brilliantly blue sweater. (1986). Video.

(Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum) Volleyball on the beach. (1989). Video.

(Tone soap) Gym exercisers clean up. A man dives straight down into a pool in slow motion; we see him only from the back. (1987).

(Pert Plus shampoo) A man plays on a soccer team, showers afterwards. They are in glitzy yellow uniforms, and perhaps on a college team. (1989). Video.

(Planters Nuts) Men take part in various outdoor activities: riding horses, racing boats. (1980). Video.

(Kraft) Costumed revelers at a Mardi Gras like street party, including a young man in white tie and tails.

(Burger King) Ben Affleck answers a woman's call. Video. (1989).

(KFC Chicken Littles) Six men in their 20's, in matching dark award jackets with white leather sleeves, with CENTRAL HIGH on the back, and a large white C on the front.

(Three Musketeers candy bar) Three very hip young men in retro clothes and car like chocolate. (1988). Video.

(Miller Lite) Ball player Ken Brett, in a sharp but logoless blue baseball jacket, has been traded so much he's lost. A new version of "The Man Without a Country", perhaps. Has some symbolic resonance. Another bar patron in red baseball shirt and cap laughs derisively at him. (1984). Video.

(Michelob Light) People take part in a glamorous night on the town (1987). Video.

(L'Oreal Studio hair care) People on a big rectangular grid of TV monitors, each with a different person's head in close-up.

1990's

(Sweet 'n Low Sweetener) Susan Lucci shows how "sweet" she is, before erupting into a tantrum about how she has never won an Emmy. Really funny. (1990)

An incredibly glamorous couple is in some luxurious hotel suite. The suave, sophisticated man in the tuxedo approaches a table filled with food, and strikes a romantic pose against it. The whole table flips over. It turns out to be a commercial for stain resistant carpets. He gives a brief apologetic shrug... (1990). Video.

(Beer) Charles Rocket as an enthusiastically gyrating Elvis Presley style rocker, complete with an Elvis style black leather outfit.

(MacDonald's) "Going Up". A group of well-dressed executives discusses taking away a subordinate's French fries, when an elevator gets stuck. (1993). Video.

(Miller Lite Beer) "Big Lawyer Roundup". Cowboys at a rodeo hunt down and hogtie lawyers. Michael Bay was reportedly involved with making this. (1993).

(Credit card). Scenes show a man in a snazzy gray business suit taking customers out to dinner. Then a man in a dressy jet black tuxedo. Finally a man at the ocean, in shiny black swim trunks with a single patch pocket in the back.

2000's

(United Church of Christ) "Ejector Pews". This unusual spot shows an unnamed denomination, in which people who are "not wanted" as members of a congregation are ejected from church, using devices that recall a James Bond movie. The message is that these people would be welcomed by the United Church of Christ. These ejected church goers look gay.

(Independent Film Channel) These promotional items for the cable TV channel showed real life performers active in independent films (low budget art movies). They all talked about a legendary director they worked with, and are full of every sort of show biz jargon and actors' cliché. Finally we see the director, who turns out to be a nine year old girl. Very funny. Video. Video. Video.

(Dell Computer) Ben Curtis plays a sly, silver-tongued teen, who is good at persuading parents to buy computers for their own teens. Funny. (2000-2003).

(L'Oreal Elvive shampoo) Ben Affleck in a gray leather jacket does a kissing scene for the movies. Made in England. (2003). Video.

(IHOP) The French Toast Festival, in which a cowboy happily turns into a Frenchman after eating French Toast (2005). Video.

(Planters Nuts) Mr. Peanut has a rendezvous with his latest love, a pistachio, on top of the Empire State Building, in a giddy spoof of a famous romantic movie (2006).

2010's

(Audi) "Green Police". Ecology cops arrest people for environmental infractions. Funny and with a social point. (2010). Video.

(Dish TV) A young man in a dark red tee shirt plays basketball with his buddies, then watches a baseball game on TV with them. The man's thin blond beard, muscles and red shirt echo Thor. (2011).

(Glad ForceFlex bag) Mt. Rainier is covered in plastic, to dramatize how much plastic waste could be avoided each year by using better bags. (2012). Video.

(Ethan Allen furniture) A man in a light gray sweater. (2013).

(T-Mobile) A cowboy villain rebels against bossing townspeople around. In a desaturated-color Western all in gray, he dons a pink-red hat. (2013). Video.

(Dasani Drops) People in brilliantly colored clothes. Swirling color liquid in water, like the credits of Kwaidan. (2013). Video.

(Taco Bell and Doritos Cool Ranch) "Ideas". A diverse series of people from all around the world express a craving for Cool Ranch. (2013). Video.

(Doritos) "Valet". A valet parker goes on a joy ride in a mirror-covered car owned by a rich young man in a hip gray suit. Director: Jon Favreau. (2013). Video and Video.

(Benjamin Moore paint) "What Matters". The company announcing its intention to "Repaint Main Street". Photos of classic small town stores are shown and celebrated. (2013). Video.

(Nationwide Insurance) "Safe Driver Pursuit". Traffic helicopters pursue and comment on a vehicle for its safe driving, in a parody of the traditional pursuit of criminals and the out-of-control. Shows the kind of drivers the insurance company wants. (2013).

(Lexus ES) "Remember". Connectivity is stressed, including the man (actor Josh Randall) using an app to find his car in a huge parking structure (2014). Video.

(Choice Hotels) "Badda Book. Badda Boom." A businessman in a good suit (actor Lowell Byers) says that the easy booking at the hotels can be summed up with the title phrase. (2017). Part of a series that includes "Summertime: Badda Book, Badda Boom.", "Badda Book Pitch", "Badda Book, Badda Bloom", "Badda Book, Badda Boom: Big Idea".


The IHOP French Toast Commercial

IHOP (International House of Pancakes) is a US chain of modestly priced restaurants that serve pancakes and related breakfast foods. They have been around for decades, and were a favorite of my late Mother. A popular breakfast dish in the US is "French Toast", a sweet dish made out of bread dipped in an egg batter.

In 2005 IHOP sponsored a "French Toast Festival", where they offered discounts for a period on this item. Such restaurant promotions are commonplace, and they are often publicized with commercials. So far, so ordinary.

Video.

The commercial opens on two hunky cowboys. They are dressed in full cowboy gear, identical matching "white shirt and giant black hat and scarf" cowboy outfits. They have thick Western twangs. One says to the other: "What's gotten into to Rusty?" All the colors in the background are completely desaturated and dull.

Cut to the friend. He is a third man, dressed not as a cowboy in white, but in a bright red shirt, together with a black beret. He says "Bonjour" in an American Western accent.

The friend has been eating French toast at the IHOP, and has turned into a Frenchman. After a break showing close-ups of French Toast, the commercial ends with the two cowboys and their friend, still in his French beret, chowing down at the IHOP on French Toast, laughing and talking together.

After years of nauseating "Freedom Fries" propaganda from Bush officials, this is the first French-anything I've seen on American TV.

Traditionally, Americans loved everything French. But this deep stream in American culture was forced underground by the Bushies. Now it is back in full force. You can't get more American than the IHOP, and you can't get more pro-French than this commercial. It is funny and endearing.

There are antecedents to this commercial's basic conceit. Monty Python's Flying Circus did a funny sketch about Englishmen turning into Scotsmen. There are also many TV shows about magical characters who can change their clothes in a twinkling of an eye, such as Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. The science fictional Automan, a "virtual reality" hero, could also do this.