Top TV Commercials of the 1970's
I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke
For some months the feel-good, anti-war anthem "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" was a hit on the pop charts; but the basic tune gained even greater fame when Coca-Cola appropriated it and changed the title and lyrics to "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke," retaining a substantial portion of the original. Perhaps using a peace anthem sung by a multinational group of young people on a hilltop in Italy to hock one's sugary confection may be seen as a just a bit inappropriate, but enough of the solidarity message shone through that the ad was actually pretty good - especially for those of us who remember it prefacing such TV specials as A Charlie Brown Christmas for several years, and coming to associate it with other such wonderful TV memories.
"Life cereal - it's supposed to be good for you." "Did you try it?" "I'm not gonna try it! You try it!" "I'm not gonna try it..." "Hey, let's get Mikey! He'll eat anything!" "Yeah!" ... "He likes it! Hey Mikey!" The above is quoted from memory, due to the fact that from 1972 for nearly a decade, this popular TV ad could be seen on any given Saturday morning, usually more than once. Quaker Oats Co.'s Life brand cereal commercial was quoted by schoolkids all across the country for years. (Note: for some time it was rumored that Michael Gilchrist, who played Mikey, died after eating Pop Rocks; but thankfully this is merely an urban legend.)
Faced with the social idea that low-calorie beer was only for women, Miller Brewing Co. began a series of ads focused on those menfolk who might want to drink the lighter brew but didn't want to be associated with the appearance of femininity. To this end Miller hired a bunch of ex-sports jocks to promote the beer, arguing with one another over which was more important - that it was less filling, or that it tasted great? Each ad would end with the tagline, 'Everything you always wanted in a beer - and less.'
7Up - the Un-Cola
Actor Geoffrey Holder was a black man with a bald pate and a deep voice; he can be seen in the James Bond film Live and Let Die as a voodoo priest. But his biggest claim to fame was this popular ad hawking 7Up, in which his Caribbean-tinged personality was used to push the refreshingly exotic flavor of the drink.
The big-boned Clydesdale horses pulling a beer wagon have been a part of Budweiser beer's marketing image for several decades; these days they're mostly pulled out of the pasture during Christmastime, but during the 1970's the famous image could be seen all season long. The ads with the Christmas card opening onto the scene of a small, snow-covered town lives on.
Back to us, a curvaceous topless woman sits in front of a pool. Now overhead, we see a man diving into the pool and emerging in front of the woman. An airplane goes overhead. And that's about all there was to this ad - that, and the message, "Chanel: Share the fantasy." It didn't hurt, though, that this ultra-stylish, postmodern little mini-non-drama was directed by Ridley Scott, in the same year that he directed the sci-fi/horror smash Alien, in 1979.
For its travelers checks, actor Karl Malden brought his Streets of San Francisco detective persona to these commercials. But the spots ran far longer than the TV series, and "Don't leave home without 'em" became embedded in the collective American consciousness.