Look people, we are so close to Christmas and I haven’t even talked about television commercials yet. Let’s dig in to some well-known commercials from my (and maybe your) childhood.
Isotoner Gloves featuring Dan Marino (1985)
Commercials for gloves are rare. In fact, I’m certain that I have never seen a commercial for gloves that weren’t Isotoner (by Aris, which means something to people?). Isotoner made up for the lack of other glove ads by going all out and really flooding the airwaves. Most of those ads starred the greatest permed quarterback of the 1980s outside of Cleveland, Ohio, Miami Dolphins star Dan Marino. The hearts of Clevelanders belonged to their hometown permed QB Bernie Kosar, of course. In half of the ads Marino was portrayed as a suave sex symbol having gloves rubbed against his face by sexy ladies, and the other half involved him passing out gloves to his teammates. Other quarterbacks got their linemen cars or diamonds, Marino treated his guys to the finest gloves you could pick up at JCPenney. I never knew a single person who owned Isotoners but to this day they’re the only brand of gloves I can name, so I guess the ads worked.
Hershey’s Kiss Bells
THE Christmas commercial. What is it about the Hershey’s Kiss commercial that’s made it so iconic that they use it every year? Oh yeah, that’s just it. It’s iconic BECAUSE they use it every year, and they use it every year BECAUSE it’s iconic because they use it every year BECAUSE it’s iconic because they use it every year…you get it. If you show something for 30 years it will become a beloved tradition regardless of quality. I call this the A Christmas Story rule. For real though, it’s a solid commercial.
Fruity Pebbles Christmas
I’ve written before about remembering every word to Fruity Pebbles commercials. That especially applies to the Christmas ad. I thought this was because they’re especially catchy, and they are, but I also just realized that like the Hershey’s Kiss commercial they ran the same ad year after year. The version above was identified as 1987, but on YouTube there are others labeled 1986, 1992, 1994, and 1995. Another thing I just realized is that I think Pebbles is the only cereal that features established cartoon properties as its mascots. The Flintstones doesn’t need Pebbles to be famous. Tony the Tiger just be another cat without Frosted Flakes.
Coca-Cola Polar Bears/Santa Packs are Coming
Polar bears have existed as the mascot for Coca-Cola since 1922, but the first entry in the series of well-known commercials ran in 1993. Despite the claim in the top YouTube video’s title, neither of these were the first ad. The actual first ad was “Northern Lights.” When I was thinking of what to write for this entry I was considering making a comment about whether these ads would continue being made when polar bears go extinct due to climate change, and then I found an article that discusses that very thing.
Coke is the best known brand in the world, and it didn’t get that way by sitting on its laurels. No, Coca-Cola couldn’t merely run one ubiquitous series of commercials at a time, they need an ear worm as well. Enter “Santa Packs are coming.” The Santa Packs commercials ran in the mid-1990s, a few years after the Polar Bears came into our lives. One thing that isn’t in danger of becoming extinct is people’s interest in alternate packaging designs.
Did you remember that Rockapella, the premier acapella group that served as the house band for Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? of the 1980s and 1990s did commercials for Folgers coffee in the late 90s? I sure didn’t, which sort of negates the premise of this article. However, I live by one rule, and one rule only: when you find a YouTube Folgers holiday commercial starring Rockapella, you stick that video in an article for your 80s and 90s pop culture nostalgia site, and then you write a meta paragraph about that video. It’s a rule that hasn’t failed me yet. I recommend that you spend some time on Rockapella’s Wikipedia page, if only to discover the names of Rockapella’s associated act and founding member Sean Altman’s alter ego.
And for good measure, a nightmare fuel commercial
A commercial song that feels like the spiritual successor to Britta’s Christmas verse in Community‘s “Regional Holiday Music”
And turtlenecks for the whole family at Target
Thanks for reading! We’ll be back on Wednesday for a half-assed article you won’t be checking out because it’s Christmas Day.
What are your favorite Christmas commercials? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.
You can own your own Coca-Cola Polar Bear Funko Pop via the link below. 80s Baby may receive a commission.
Good article! People will be reading b/c it’s GOOD stuff!
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Good memories ❤️
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