Favorite Commercials | Musical Commercials | Science Fiction Commercials | High Tech Information | Fantasy | Information and Public Service Announcements | 1960's | 1970's | 1970's Shiny Clothes | 1980's | 1980's Uniforms | 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!"

(Clark's teaberry gum) The Teaberry Shuffle. (1961). Video. Sequel with British guard. Video.

(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."

(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.

(Levi's Cords) A singer extols the bright colors of Levi's corduroy pants. Vivid photography. (1984). 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":

(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.

(McDonalds) "Breakfast for 4". An a cappella group of four hip men gets breakfast, and move all over town. (1987?). Video.

(Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk). Exuberant commercial for a local beach attraction. This ad uses back-projection. (1987?). Video.

(Arrow Shirts) Arrow breaks its alleged past white-shirt uniformity, to incorporate bright colors and shades. (1987?). Nice choral singing, on a many-level stage. Video.

(Nissan) Many dancers exuberantly celebrate cars in the street. Frenetic but interesting. (1987). Video.

(GE) GE appliances are showed off, in a montage of brief clips. Most clips involve geometric patterns, shapes, movements or colors. They form a near abstract film. (1987). Edited to Mozart's music Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1787), which perhaps coincidentally was 200 years old at the time of the commercial. The ad recalls some earlier experimental films edited to classical music. 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. Song: "Let's Dance". (2013). Watch for the poodle! Commercials in the series:

(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. (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 (the Space Cowboy) in a complex silver-and-gray space uniform and cowboy hat goes into a space bar. (1984). This is actor Ernie Townsend (real name Ernest Pysher), best known for playing good guy Cliff Nelson on the soap opera The Edge of Night. Video. And a much longer more complete version Video or Video. A detailed News Story in Starlog Magazine 105, April, 1986. On Townsend: 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.

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

(Captain Power Videotapes) Kids use "interactive videotapes" together with special tools to perfect video-game skills. I'd never heard of interactive tapes. What else could be done with technology like this? (?1987). Video.

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

(Mita Copiers) Strange, weird ad for a copier company. (1989). Video (next to last commercial on 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

(ITT) A giant hand pulls up a skyscraper, showing what's underneath. This predicts fiber optics will replace traditional cables. (1977). Video.

(National Coffee Association) Various achievers including 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.

(Champion) The Champion company tells about its Worker Involvement Teams. (1984). 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.

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

Please also see my list of best Industrial Films.

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.

(Nabisco Shredded Wheat) The set gets turned upside down. (1989). There's a subtext of "territorial invasion", popular in the business manuals of the era. 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.


Information and Public Service Announcements

(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.

(Public Service Announcement for Car Pooling for the US Department of Transportation) Noah, of the Ark, is described as the original car pooler. Delightful animated spot. 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!").

(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.

(Black and Decker) Set in a restaurant kitchen, this shows in detail the many things the company's mixer can do. Vivid photography. It's like a brief, fast-paced industrial film. Video.

"Stop the Madness". Public Service Announcement with a get sober, anti-drug and anti-alcohol message. John Wesley Shipp delivers it with conviction. (1991). 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 1994-1999).


1960's

(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

(Mueller's egg noodles) 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. (1977). Video.

(Trouble cologne by Mennen) 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. This body-view emphasizes his physicality. The yuppie looks well-to-do, physically powerful, and very aggressive, probably both in the business world and in this bar. The idea is that wearing Trouble cologne will get you involved with rough-and-tumble encounters. Mennen also ran billboard ads asking "Are you looking for Trouble?" Ads suggested "a little Trouble in the morning and you've got Trouble all day long". The name Trouble was created in 1970, and the product debuted in 1971. Article.

(Chiffon Margarine) Mother Nature is fooled into think that the margarine is actually butter. (1971?, 1972?).

(Planters Nuts) Men take part in various outdoor team activities: riding horses, running foot races, playing baseball, crewing racing boats. Their clothes reflect very macho 1970's styles: One of the baseball players is in a rugby shirt, something designed to exude aggression, the riders wear cowboy shirts and hats, guys are in beach warm-up suits, the runners and rowing crew are in skimpy short-shorts and tall socks. "America's Diggin' Into Planters". (1979). Video.

1970's Shiny Clothes

(Dial Soap) An amateur racecar driver teases his wife about the alleged danger of the track, making her very nervous. After the race he strips off the casual clothes he wore on the track, and showers. Then gets dressed up in a spectacular 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". It's clear the silver suit is not actually used by him for racing, but for big romantic evenings.

(Pabst Extra Light Beer) Macho actor John Beck:

(Film Posters) Actor Burt Reynolds wore one of these shiny warm-up suits, in painted publicity illustrations for the film Paternity (1981). Photo (scroll to bottom). Reynolds's shiny suit is royal blue. The art is on the film's poster, and the cover of the tie-in paperback novel. Reynolds points at the viewer, recalling the famous image "Uncle Sam Wants YOU" (Photo). Reynolds' caption reads ""He wants YOU to have his baby". Art: Birney Lettick.

Mr. Lettick also did a famous poster for the film Heaven Can Wait (1978). It shows well-built Warren Beatty in a gray sweatsuit and blue Adidas shoes, wearing angel's wings. Photo. Photo.

The gray sweatsuit has matching jacket and pants, making it a uniform. Adidas tracksuits similarly are uniforms, with matching fabrics and designs on their jackets and trousers. Men wearing them are uniformed.

Beatty is shown with the elaborately coiffed hair, that was so swaggering a part of Mod fashion.

(FTD Florists) Flowers are delivered by a handsome man in a shiny gold tight-fitting suit. He brings to life the gold image of the Roman god Mercury, who is the symbol of the florists group. A series:

There were also print ads in magazines in this series.

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.

(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.

(Heinz Ketchup) Matt LeBlanc pours it slowly, off a building edge. (1987). Has film noir like shots down a staircase. Video.

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

(?) 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.

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

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

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

(McDonalds Garden Salad) The Salad is pleasingly, and unexpectedly, linked to farm people who actually grow vegetables. Nice sense of rhythm and color make pleasing, almost abstract patterns (1987). Video.

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

(L'Oreal Studio hair care) People on a big rectangular grid of TV monitors, each with a different person's head in close-up. A clever finale challenges what we think we are seeing. (1987?). Video.

Wrigley's Gum. (Wrigley's Spearmint Gum) A romantic couple on a picnic. (1987). The man is in yellow and blue, like the Gorton's Fisherman of the same year. And the commercial as a whole features the primary colors of yellow, blue and red, also like the Gorton's Fisherman commercial. At the commercial's end, the man displays a phallic symbol in a way that is at once non-threatening and very sexy. Video.

(Wrigley's Extra gum) Men and women out bicycling, piloting a glider and riding in a cable car in the mountains chew gum. All three episodes involve "means of transportation"; all three are set in the countryside. The man in the cable car has a white shirt and brilliantly blue sweater. The man on the bicycle is also in blue and white. (1986). Video.

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

The Gorton's Fisherman. (Gorton's Fish Sticks) The Gorton's spokesman is in a special fisherman's costume that matches the yellow and blue Gorton's package. He's in a bright blue sweater. He wears bright yellow overalls. The overall's straps are in a V-array, emphasizing his broad shoulders. The straps are fastened by heavy metal clamps. The straps look like a Yuppie's suspenders. It's a 1980's Yuppie update of traditional fishermen's gear. Bright sweaters are also popular with Yuppies. The three fishermen behind him are also in bright primary colors. Even the boat is ambiguous. It looks like a modest fishing boat. But it could also be a Yuppie's yacht. (1988). Video.

In the same series: the spokesman is still in his sweater and yellow overalls. But now he is wearing a matching yellow slicker over them. And a giant yellow rain hat. These matching clothes give him a uniformed quality. He looks more like a Yuppie than ever. The boat now has red equipment on it, making all three primary colors prominent. The spokesman is sometimes filmed with camera movement, which combines with his own walking. Video.

The Gorton's Fisherman shows up at the end of a slightly earlier commercial (1987). He's in a blue sweater, but it is rougher, darker and more working class than his later Yuppie sweater. But he is wearing what look like the same overalls and V-shape-tilted suspenders. He is very macho, and points directly to the audience. Video.

The IMDb suggests actor Bill McLaughlin played the Gorton's Fisherman at some point. He might be the star of the above commercials.

See also this modern take on the Gorton's Fisherman, with Antoni Porowski in shiny metallic gear (2019). Photo.

1980's Uniforms

(Haggar Clothing coordinates) A ship's Captain magically redresses a sloppy young man in sharp clothes. Other commercials in the series show a man being magically redressed by his wife. Video. And by a fortune teller. Video. By a blind date. Video.

White Naval Uniforms. (Kit Kat) Sailors trapped on a desert island fantasize about Kit Kat candy bars. (1982). A sailor prefers seeing himself in a good sailor suit eating a Kit Kat, to thinking about a girl. He persuades his buddy to share this fantasy. He calls it "The Taste you can't help fall in love with." Video.

(Big Red gum) The gum helps people kiss longer. A kissing couple is saluted by one of three ship's officers in identical white uniforms. (1983). The dressy uniforms are well-tailored to emphasize the officers' broad shoulders and narrow waists. The guy they are saluting is in a well-tailored suit too. Phallic symbols are everywhere near the men in this commercial, including a gangway rail for the kissing man. Video.

(Wrigley's Spearmint Gum) A young naval officer, dressed in a white Ensign's 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 of Ensigns at the end, while the sunlight gleams off his uniform cap's black visor. (January 1986). Video.

(Wrigley's Gum) Men play many sports, and do other male group activities. Also includes Top Gun style pilots, one with a "Tomcat" patch, like the film. And sailors with leave, while an officer in full Naval whites stands above them, returning a sailor's salute. Five laughing guys are in tuxes at a fancy party, recalling the movie "Diner". The commercial opens with men playing an amateur sports game in the mud; this contrasts with the gleaming Naval uniforms later in the spot. The commercial is an a"anthology" of many kinds of activity - just as it is a commercial for many types of Wrigley's Gum. (1989). Video.

White naval uniforms were big in the 1980's. See the films An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), Top Gun (1986) and No Way Out (1987), and the TV series Magnum, P. I.. The episode My Johnny Lies Over the Ocean (1985) of Murder, She Wrote. Later came David James Elliott in JAG (1995-2005).

And covers of paperback novels:

Magazine ads: Dupont Antron/Lycra (1985), showing a woman in a swim suit celebrated by three young men in naval whites, photographed by Bill King. Photo. The three clean cut, smiling officers have different ranks: Lieutenant (junior grade), Lieutenant, and Lieutenant Commander. They form part of a Chain of Command. The Lieutenant Commander has his uniform cap on, emphasizing his highest rank. He also has the darkest hair.

Heroes John Wesley Shipp as Kelly Nelson, Michael Tylo as Quinton McCord are in naval whites on the TV soap opera The Guiding Light (February 24, 1982). Tylo is playing a Rear Admiral while Shipp is a junior officer. This is a drastic difference in rank. Tylo has a more elaborate uniform, with special authority figure designs on his cap visor, a chest full of ribbons, and shoulder braid. Tylo has ten rows of ribbons on his chest, while Shipp has none. Tylo has his uniform cap on, while Shipp has his cap tucked stiffly under his arm, in standard naval fashion. Photo.

Earlier Quinn Redeker played the ship's Captain in the TV-film The Love Boat II (1977), a pilot for the later series. Photo. He also wore a formal evening version of the uniform. Photo.

White naval uniforms appear in older Hollywood films:

Later films: Later TV series:

Marine Sergeants. (Coke) Two related commercials, with both some shared and some different imagery. Both are montages of different events:

Pilot. (Michelob Light) "Oh Yes You Can, You Can Have It All". Successful young men are shown thoroughly enjoying both their job and their time off. (1987). The commercial starts off genially, with a friendly looking man in a white dress shirt and loosened tie at work. Soon we see him looking equally friendly off work, in an archetypal blue-is-for-boys sweater. Then the spot becomes far more hard-edged. We see a uniformed pilot approaching his plane outside in snowy weather. He's in a gray uniform greatcoat, that fits tightly over his main uniform. His big collar is turned up. The dressy coat shows off his broad shoulders and narrow waist. He wears a high-peaked uniform cap with pilot's wings. The cap is titled at a jaunty angle and the shiny black visor shades his eye. He has a uniformed perfect appearance. The gray is also a 1980's power color for men. What might be the same guy is shown in a swimsuit on the beach. He looks authoritative in mirror sunglasses, as he is served. Video.

Police. (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.

Academy. (Head and Shoulders Shampoo) The shampoo is used by a cadet, at what seems to be a military academy for college-age students. Or for men a little older than college students - say, their mid-twenties. The cadet inspects his dress uniform in a mirror, and is pleased by what he sees. He practices disciplined gestures in the mirror. The cadet hero then attends a review, where cadets are lined-up and inspected by a uniformed Authority Figure officer. The handsome officer evaluates their appearance. The cadets present a perfect disciplined image, looking straight ahead. Both the officer and the cadets are conventional businessman types. They have somehow been transferred into this elaborate academy environment, with its perfect dark-blue uniforms. The scene shifts to a courtroom, where the robed Judge attains the perfect image of success, by using the shampoo. Both scenes involve strict hierarchies, with men in special clothes in charge. (1987). Video. I've never seen uniforms, whose peaked caps include a circular insignia. This is unique. It has a perverse quality. The same circular insignia are on the hero's erect uniform collar. The insignia are gold and metallic. So is the gold metal rim on the officer's peaked cap. And the buttons on the uniforms' epaulettes. The gold suggests materialistic values and making money. The round insignia look like gold coins. The gold suggests once again that these men are really businessmen. Photo.

The commercial recalls the Wrigley's Spearmint Gum spot of early 1986. In both uniformed young men practice disciplined gestures in private, in front of a large mirror. Then take part in a public review conducted by an officer. In both the uniformed young men eagerly create the proper image for themselves. A difference: the Wrigley ad shows US Naval Officers, while this Head and Shoulders ad takes place at some imaginary Academy. The colors and shapes of the Academy uniforms, especially the caps, suggest Naval Officers' blue uniforms.

(Head and Shoulders Shampoo) An earlier commercial in the same series showed a businessman hero using the shampoo, to create the same perfectly groomed appearance as other dress-for-success businessmen. (1986). This is a more "normal" situation: one encountered by millions of men. It is also less interesting and more conventional. Video or Video.

Sports. (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). Video.

(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.

(?) 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.

(Coke) An urban baseball team's bus, coming home after winning a big game, stops at a rural diner to celebrate. The players are in bright red-and-white uniforms. The team name "Gibson Gears" and logo are on the uniform shirt fronts. There is a Civil Rights subtext: the all-white people in the rural diner, initially apprehensive about seeing the integrated baseball team enter, learn that the teammates are good guys. (1980). Video.

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

(Coke) Various spiffed up people go out on the town on Saturday night, including three young men in identical award jackets who get out of a car in precise formation. The jackets display the letter C in front - perhaps for "Coke". (1978). Video.

(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.

(Miller Lite) Ball player Ken Brett, in a sharp but logoless blue baseball jacket, has been traded so much he's lost. The shiny blue jacket emphasizes his muscular arms and chest. The blue jacket's lack of logo indicates he is unconnected to any team. A new version of "The Man Without a Country", perhaps. Has some symbolic resonance. Another bar patron in a fancy red-and-white baseball shirt and red cap laughs derisively at him. The shirt has stripes on its sleeves, suggesting uniformed authority figures. (1984). Video or Video.

(Pro Keds shoes) A runner practices racing in deserted city streets in early morning hours. An older milkman in a white uniform, tells him he "is looking good". He is eventually magically changed into shiny running clothes at the end of the spot. He shimmers back and forth between his old clothes and his shiny new ones, before the glossy new uniform becomes permanent. "Pro Keds. For all those moments when you feel like a pro." In the same series: Rich, an amateur basketball player, sometimes is great in his Pro Keds. Rich, a handsome Black guy, sometimes "feels the magic" in his basket-shooting. Just as the runner gets approval from the uniformed milkman, so is Rich approved by his Coach, who wears a red warm-up suit with white trim. (1980). Video.

(Folgers Coffee) "Peter Comes Home for Christmas". A young man comes home for the holidays. He's first seen in an award jacket, blue with white leather sleeves. Then in a white cable knit sweater. Both are archetypal images of college men. (1985). Peter is played by actor Greg Wrangler. Video.

(Cadillac Allante). A polo team in classy red-and-white Cadillac polo uniforms. The red shirts with white lettering are worn with white helmets and trousers. The traditional Cadillac logo is on the sleeves, converting it to a piece of uniform insignia. Other men are in upscale gray business suits, the definitive male look of the era. (1987). Video.

Business Suits. (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 gray pinstripe suit (actor 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.

(Grey Poupon) "Pardon Me". Two men in neighboring Rolls Royces pass each other a jar of Grey Poupon mustard (1981). Incredibly upper crust. Writer: Larry Elegant. Director: Harold Becker.

(Twix candy bars) Young Ben Jones is waiting on a subway platform, in a light gray business suit, with his tie loosened. The announcer talks him into trying a Twix candy bar. (1981). The announcer makes it clear to Ben that the announcer is speaking for "we". The announcer's hand and arm are shown: he's in a gray suit too, one much darker and more authoritative looking than Ben's. The announcer is in a dressy white shirt too, while Ben's dress shirt has a slight shade. A Navy-blue uniformed subway guard is standing behind Ben, next to a shiny silver subway train. Men in gray business suits are passing behind Ben too. Both the guard and the businessmen have their ties fastened, unlike Ben. Video.

(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.

(Michelob Light) People take part in a glamorous night on the town (1987). Most of the men wear suits without ties. One is in an athletic award jacket. Video.

(Loving: soap opera) A promo for the TV soap opera series Loving focuses on well-dressed, charming businessman villain Clay Alden. Played by actor Randolph Mantooth, previously associated with good guys, the character oozes sexiness. His clothes, while good Dress For Success suits, are not yet the special business suits of the late 1980's / early 1990's period. This ad, like many trailers and film ads, is made up of clips from the show, linked by a new narration. Video.

(Diet Coke) "Out On a Ledge". Demi Moore has misadventures on the outside of a giant skyscraper. Her experience combines comedy with thrills involving heights, in the tradition of Harold Lloyd's silent comedies. She's in one of the very dressy suits of the era. And at the start and end she meets a handsome young man in the definitive business look of the late 1980s: a double-breasted gray business suit with peaked lapels. The Art Deco skyscraper is also glamorous. Debuted on the Superbowl. (1988). Video.

(McDonald's) "Going Up". A group of well-dressed executives on an elevator jokingly discuss taking away a subordinate's French fries by force. Then the elevator gets stuck. The executives all wear white dress shirts with their dark suits. (1992). Video.

Tuxedos. (Shampoo) Two men: one in a black 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.

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.

Leather Jackets. (Coffee) A handsome man takes his girl friend bird watching. He wears a complex looking black leather jacket, very dressy and authoritative looking. He orders her to be quiet and still, so not to disturb the bird. He sounds intelligent and competent. He expertly identifies the bird.

(Sansui) "One Touch". A woman dancer's giant stereo system is turned on by just "one touch", by a man dancer in a black leather jacket. (1983?). Video.

(Grape-Nuts cereal) A muscular young man, maybe a forest ranger, riding a horse while wearing a leather bomber jacket. At the end he asserts "There's no question Grape-Nuts is right for you. Question is 'Are you right for Grape-Nuts?'" he asks the audience, challengingly. (1984). Video. Photo. Related: A mountain explorer on foot (1984). This might be real-life mountain climber Kevin Donald. Video. Print ad: Ad.

(Michelob Light) "Light Up the Night". A young man in a fringed black leather jacket dances exuberantly one night (1987). Two other men do synchronized guitar moves; one wears a black leather jacket. This is the same year as the company's "Oh Yes You Can, You Can Have It All" ad, with its uniformed pilot. Video.

(Certs) A pilot has a romantic encounter. (1987). Video.

(3 Musketeers candy bar) Three very hip young men in retro clothes and car like chocolate. (1988). The leader of the group is "The Maestro": a muscular guy in a leather jacket. He drives the car. Among his subordinates is "Einstein", also in leather jacket and presumably brainy. And Stan, who wears an award jacket with leather sleeves, over his baseball uniform top. Video.

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)

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

(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.

(Persil ProClean) The Professional, a James Bond type secret agent in a dazzling white tuxedo, advertises laundry cleaning products. Actor: Peter Hermann. 2106 ad 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 businessman is known as Mr. B. It is unclear what his relationship to the admen is: their boss? their customer? He seems to be in charge.

(Hefty LBB Strong - Bags) "Conveyor Belt". A cheeky, well-built man in authoritative dark gray rides a supermarket conveyor belt (2019). Nice humor. I think the man is star wrestler John Cena. Video.


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.