Dorothy Gray Cold Cream
It's bad enough to find out the government was performing atomic tests on people, now we find out Madison Avenue was doing it too! This was a novel pitch - coat a model's face in radioactive dirt, then demonstrate with a Geiger Counter that Dorothy Gray cleans better than the leading brands. This was no doubt a favorite for the ladies of the fallout shelter set. Dorothy Gray Cold Cream is no longer around, you don't suppose the model sued them out of existence do you?
Topper's Suzy Homemaker was a fairly realistic looking doll that stood a full 22 inches, clad in practical dresses, with accessories galore like ovens (that really baked cakes like the EZ Bake), refrigerators, irons, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, a beauty salon - everything a girl needs to prepare her for the housework drudgery in her future and look beautiful doing it. Suzy more or less fell by the wayside when the feminist movement took hold in the late-1960s but before that this line of toys was so popular that, to this day, you'll sometimes hear someone referred to as a "Suzy Homemaker."
The idea of cartoon characters sneaking behind the house to light up their Winstons would send parent groups into a rage today but no one gave it much thought back in 1961 when The Flintstones aired in primetime.
Nazis Used to Sell Jello
This commercial, taken from a Carol Channing special, is one of the most bizarre ever. Broadway Carol pops in on the prisoners of Stalag 13, a Nazi prison camp, just in time for dessert. They're having Jello - wait, isn't gelatin made from bones? Let's don't go there. And they're using the Commandant's pointy helmet for the Jello mold, is nothing sacred? Apparently, nothing makes you hungry for the great taste of Jello like forced labor, the stench of burning flesh, and a hag coming out of the bottom of the floor.
VD is for Everybody
Take the scourge of venereal disease and dress it up with a catchy tune that had everyone in the seventies singing along. What could go wrong? VD was so rampant in the 1970s they invented a new one - Chlamydia - and AIDS was on the way. If this commercial was meant to stop people from hooking up and curb the spread of disease it was a massive failure.
Bacchus After Shave
Gee, what is that thing in the middle of the screen, the phallic object that squirts on the gay guy's face to make him irresistible to women? Not exactly subtle.
BONUS: Stop Pay TV
When cable TV started to take hold in the country in the late-1960s who was most worried? Not the local TV station, although they were nervous. It was movie theater owners who were terrified that having 9 channels to watch at home would cause their ticket sales to plummet. They came up with this anti-pay TV film that played with the trailers before the films, mean to scare consumers into thinking Cablevision would rake you with charges to watch your favorite programs. And they were right!
Come to think of it - the television industry pumps hours of commercials at the average viewer every day, why should anyone have to pay for cable at all? If everyone quit Comcast tomorrow I'll bet they would start paying us to watch.
7 Outrageous Commercial Fails
by Billy Ingram
(Billy Ingram is the author of TVparty! Television’s Untold Tales and the creator of the classic TV web site TVparty.com.)