The 50 Best Commercials: Hard-sell Hall of Fame |


The 50 Best Commercials: Hard-sell Hall of Fame

Some other moments--both Kodak and Maalox--worthy of special recognition

BEST RUN-ON SLOGAN: A tie! McDonald’s ”Two-all-beef-patties- special-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-onions-on-a-sesame-seed-bun” (1975), and NyQuil’s ”The nighttime-sniffling-sneezing-coughing- aching-stuffy-head-fever-so-you-can-rest-medicine” (1983).

MOST OVERRATED COMMERCIAL: Sure, it was groundbreaking and had gold-standard production values, but Apple’s Clio-winning ”1984” spot takes itself a little too seriously. It’s just a freakin’ ad, for Pete’s sake! (1984).

BEST SEXIST AD THAT UNSUCCESSFULLY TRIED TO CO-OPT FEMINISM: Revlon’s 1980 spot for Enjoli, which made many women very un-hap-py with its celebration of a working woman (”I can bring home the bacon,” she coos) who, nonetheless, lives to please her man with a frying pan. In 1982, to keep up with the changing times (hell-O!), Enjoli was obliged to add a line to its ridiculously infectious jingle: ”But once in a while you’ve got to give me a hand.”

BEST AD THAT SUCCESSFULLY CO-OPTED FEMINISM: Nike’s ”If you let me play” spot, featuring young, sports-loving girls who just want a chance to break a sweat (1995).

CELEBRITY WINNERS: 1. Magnavox’s wryly skeptical John Cleese (1991); 2. Orson Welles, looking like he’d done some extensive research to praise Paul Masson wine (late ’70s); 3. Karl Malden’s authoritative (if nosy) spots for American Express (1973); 4. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, making lotsa nice and easy money flouncing her tresses for Nice ‘n Easy hair color (1993); 5. Yul Brynner’s creepily effective anti-smoking ads (released four months after he died of lung cancer in 1985).

CELEBRITY LOSERS: 1. Jonathan Pryce’s pretentious ramblings for Infiniti (1993); 2. Candice Bergen’s (left) phoned-in appearances for Sprint (1990); 3. Eleanor Roosevelt’s (no lie) stodgy stumping for Good Luck margarine (1959); 4. Nancy Walker’s abrasive Bounty waitress (1970); 5. John Houseman’s fatuous ”They earn it” spots for Smith Barney (1979).

CELEBRITIES WHO PROBABLY WISH THEY’D PASSED ON THE ENDORSEMENT: Martha Raye for Polident (1986); June Allyson for Depend adult diapers (mid-’80s); George Kennedy for BreathAsure (1996).

STRONGEST CHEESE: They were neither PC nor subtle, but they got the job done: Nair’s ”Who Wears Short Shorts?” campaign (1975); Wind Song’s ”I Can’t Seem to Forget You” theme; ”Nothing Beats a Great Pair of L’eggs,” with Juliet Prowse; Calgon’s ”Take Me Away.”

BEST UNINTENDED CATCHPHRASE: ”I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” for LifeCall’s medical-alert device (late ’80s).

WORST USE OF A POP SONG: ”Y.M.C.A.,” employed by Old El Paso (s-a-l-s-a; it’s not even the right number of letters!) and Pepsi (P-e-p-s-i; can’t ad people count?) (both 1996).

BEST EXAMPLE OF AD LIFE IMITATING ART: Vicks Formula 44’s ”I’m not a doctor but I play one on TV” (1984).

FICKLEST TASTE BUDS Ray Charles, who in 1969 endorsed Coke, then duplicated his performance for cola rival Diet Pepsi some 20 years later.