Don’t get me wrong. Like many people, I appreciate the invention of TIVO and the DVR because you can zip right past all those annoying television commercials. However, there are those times when that one ad makes you take your thumb off the fast-forward button.
In fact, there is always that one ad that soars high above the television program that you’re watching. And, while many guys won’t freely admit it, they actually watch the Super Bowl more for the commercials than the football game itself.
Thanks to YouTube, I’ve put together a selection of some of my favorite television commercials.
1) The classic Raid pest spray commercials of the fifties and sixties were created by animation legend Fred “Tex” Avery. He’s best known as one of the great Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes directors, instrumental in creating characters such as Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and Elmer Fudd. Many critics, however, believe that he produced his animation masterpieces during his years of free reign at MGM. His trademark style included bulging eyeballs and tongues along with hilarious frenetic gags bordering on the psychotic. Near the end of his career, he set up his own production company, specializing in animated television commercials, his best known being the Raid spray ads.
2) While R.O. Blechman’s one-of-a-kind squiggly line drawing style can be seen in a wide variety of media, he is best known for his animated TV ads, particularly the “Talking Stomach” Alka Seltzer commercial from the 1960s. I’ve selected one of his lesser known commercials, a Christmas ad for the CBS network.
3) It’s hard to believe that there have been so many great television ads for such a mundane product as Alka Seltzer. Here’s the late Peter Boyle in an excellent update of a classic sixties Alka Seltzer commercial.
4) This early Alka Seltzer ad from the 60s includes a great deadpan voice-over from a then unknown Gene Wilder accompanying Village Voice cartoonist Jules Feiffer’s animation.
5) In 2002, film documentarian Errol Morris, known for his stark black and white style and his off-kilter view of the world, directed a series of live action commercials for Apple Computers. His most famous and controversial Apple ad includes an apparently stoned teenager named Ellen Feiss, this appearance causing her to become an unlikely star on the Internet.
6) Television commercials have also served as a launching pad for young feature film directors such as Spike Jonze, who has produced many great ads utilizing his uniquely quirky post-modern style. His Ikea commercial is one of his best.
7) Even Martin Scorsese, one of the all-time great film directors, feels right at home directing commercials. One of his best is an American Express ad starring Robert DeNiro and New York’s Tribeca area.
8) Director Spike Lee is almost as famous for his Air Jordan ads as he is for his films. Perhaps no other high profile film director has done more television commercials.
9) One of Spike Lee’s best commercials is one of his least known in this country, because it was made for an Italian company, Telecom Italia.
10) In fact, Telecom Italia has produced a series of great ads that were directed by top Hollywood directors. “Dream”, from this series, was directed by Ridley Scott and starred Leonardo DiCaprio.
No description. Please update your profile.