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Television

TV’s Most Memorable Commercials

The first TV commercial.

This year is the 70th anniversary of the first TV commercial, so we cast our glance back at the some of the most memorable ads of all time.

On July 1st, 1941, viewers seen the world’s first TV commercial, a 20-second spot for Bulova watches. It isn’t on YouTube yet, but you’re not missing much: just a clock superimposed on a US map while an announcer says, “America runs on Bulova time." Thankfully, commercials got a lot more interesting throughout the years, so here’s a look at some of the most unforgettable.

 
1959: The First Ever Barbie Commercial

Introducing a new type of doll for its time, this originally aired during the hottest show for kids at the time, The Mickey Mouse Club.

 

1965: The Oscar Mayer Wiener Jingle

How many of you know the words to this one? Oscar Mayer occasionally holds singing contests for kids based on this and its 1971 b-o-l-o-g-n-a song.

 

1970: Tootsie Roll Tootsie Roll Pop

How many licks does it take to get the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop? Mr. Owl is too impatient to find out. This simple line drawing animation still airs on TV after all these years. (But why isn’t that kid wearing clothes?)

 

1971: Coca-Cola “Hilltop”

It was a big year for ads, and Coca-Cola’s ode to world peace through soda later became a hit song by the New Seekers. (“I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”) As a testament to its legacy, the company filmed a remake starring the original actors and their children in 1990. Today, the message “Teach the world to sing… please.” occasionally appears during commercial breaks on American Idol.

 

1971: Keep America Beautiful’s “Crying Indian”

A rare example of a memorable public service message that was put together well, it starred actor Iron Eyes Cody (Espera Oscar de Corti). He wasn’t of Native American descent, but his wife and their adopted children were.

 

1971: Life Cereal “Three Brothers”

Hey Mikey! If Mikey likes it, it has to be good. Don’t believe those rumors, the original Mikey (John Gilchrist) is alive and well, working as an advertising manager for a local radio station.

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