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Classic Comedian Commercials

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Walt Disney and an animatronic bird

Walt Disney is Funny!

Most people forget that Walt Disney was a fine on-camera personality and performer. By 1965, when Disney appeared in this clip on the NBC network’s Jack Benny Hour he had been the host of his own anthology show for over a decade.

Bessie Griffin and the Gospel Pearls

Bessie Griffin Sings the Gospel

On December 9, 1962 the Dinah Shore Show, on December 9, 1962, made a small choice to include among its celebration of American Music, a performance by a gifted American singer in a genre that would challenge America’s taste and tolerance.

Sammy Davis Jr. at the piano with Matt Dennis

Sammy Davis, Jr. Does Gershwin

This classic TV clip from The Big Party, initially broadcast on October 8, 1959 pairs two Gershwin tunes performed by Sammy Davis Jr., It Ain’t Necessarily So and Fascinating Rhythm. Davis’ skills as a celebrity and entertainer are clear in both numbers.

A compendium of classic TV commercials, pairing early celebrities with products.

One of the topics we love here at Past Entertainment is the mutually supportive relationship between celebrity, pop-culture and product advertisement. Celebrity, itself, may provide a substantial income, but when pop-culture icons associate with a household product we use daily, we welcome them into our homes and make them a part of our lives. We bring them into our extended family. We trust their recommendations. For that, celebrities are compensated handsomely.

From the marketers’ perspective, their brand becomes tied with the personality of the popular icon. Through sophisticated studies, marketers have become adept at pairing product and celebrity to meld neatly into brand.

From a celebrity’s perspective, proper pairing with a brand certainly enhances career by expanding audience, but the main benefit or finding a long-term fit between persona and product is money. Today, as CenterStage Comedy says, “Comedians In Commercials Making Bank.”

Commercial integration directly into the program was common in the 1950’s. In the 1960’s and early 70’s comedians gave marketers an opportunity to connect with youth culture. By the late 1980’s the NY Times was reporting on how comedians were finding steady employment, not only starring in commercials, but also by acting in the background, thanks to their natural performing abilities.

Early television struggled to find the proper use of product, celebrity, audience and brand. Comedians were often used in the pairings because of likeability, easy integration with their clearly defined personas. The comedians didn’t have to step outside of their act to sell a product. They could remain themselves. Their commercials were an extension of their classic TV shows.

Some comedians brought their outstanding voice talent, developed through years on the radio. Bob and Ray were natural character comedians to voice a myriad of animated commercials, an industry that was gaining importance in the early years of television.

The five commercials presented here all employ classic comedic talent to sell their respective products. We’ll leave it to you to decide if the pairing’s of product and personality is appropriate.

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