Genreal Electric with the Rankin Bass Elves
Last December I didn’t do any X-Mas articles, so like what I did for October, December will be X-Mas theme from this point on. To start off a month of Christmas articles, I decided to do an article on a Rankin Bass Rudolph commercial. Which is three General Electric commercials that aired the same time as the TV special did back in 1964. These were filmed in Black & White cause most people back in 1964 still own a color TV set. It’s very evident cause the Brady Bunch didn’t own a color TV set till Season 1 Episode 15 which was back in 1970! But keep in mind that back then if you own a color TV set you were regarded to be rich. Course today watching something in color is no big deal specially when I was born when everyone own a color TV set. It was most amazed with the introduction to extended cable cause back then having more channels to watch on TV was mind-blowing. Anyways If you were curious about the first Rankin Bass Rudolph commercial, you can’t go older than this one. There’s a good number of uploads on this ad, so it’s common to find but I never heard anyone talk about this one compared to the more recent ads made in recent years. So let’s talk about this series of ads.
The ad starts up with one of the anonymous elves wrapping a present and gives it to the Head Elf(the one dislikes the idea of elves making career changes) who wraps the present with a ribbon and then hands it over to Hank(least in the CG sequel his name was Hank) who tries to put it on top of a towering pile of presents which collapse on him. Also why is it that Hank is the only tall elf of the entire Rankin Bass Elf group? While he doesn’t play a big role, he just stands out too much when most of the elves look the same and have the same height. He’s a lot like Bernard from The Santa Clause who is slightly taller than the other elves. Anyways after Hank gets up the logo for Electric General bounces off his head and it then lands on the palm of the Head Elf’s hand. Which we then get introduced to the first product which is a retro hair dryer. Keep in mind that back then it was more common to see hair dryers as vacuums as oppose to the hand gun shape version we know today. After the intro of the product the Head Elf sucks it up with a vacuum. Which turns out to be the second product a portable vacuum cleaner. It does all the duties that would eventually be done by a dust buster. Then the elves observe the electric toaster oven, cause it’s neither an oven or a toaster. It’s simply both which handles both jobs perfectly well.
Speaking of 2 in 1, Hank shows off the can opener/knife sharpener which is a great idea for a product by saving people time to not buy a knife sharpener when they can settle with a can opener that can sharpen knives. After that we see the Head Elf trying out the hair dryer, even though he hardly has any hair. And says that both the hair dryer, and after he says that Hank then says the vacuum, and the other elf who is wearing shades while laying on the toaster oven like it’s a tanning bed and says toaster oven and can opener which the scene cuts to him sitting on a can being opened by Hank. Then all three of them said “You’ll agree!” which the sentence is finished with background singers that go “the most efficient gifts from General Electric each year” upon hearing that part the elves put the General Electric logo on top of a pile of presents like it’s a christmas tree. The next scene we see Hank playing a piano who stops playing it to help out the other elf who is carrying some ornaments towards a tree where the Head Elf is a top of a ladder in order to decorate it at a higher altitude. The Head Elf then advertises the electric knife from General Electric. Next Hank introduces the electric blanket, and the other elf introduces the coffee maker(which looks like a tea kettle with a knob on the bottom). With those items aside the Head Elf shows off an item that the whole family can own which is an automatic tooth-brush with four replaceable heads. In today’s era it’s called an electronic toothbrush, but back then more people used basic tooth brushes. After that’s advertised, the elves placed each of the newly introduced item in a row of presents which forms the letters G.E. for General Electric of course.
The three elves are no gathered around a giant hour-glass. And then we see a tree instantly populated with presents and the General Electric logo is placed on the tree to let you know it’s decorated by the company. I wonder if General Electric ever did made any tree ornaments, cause you see them as much as their products for these commercials. Hank opens up a present which is revealed to be clock shaped like a tea kettle. Nothing special, it looks like something you can get at any clock store like the kind that sell the really fancy grandfather clocks. We now see the Head Elf trying the mix batter in a mixing bowl. So the other two elves give him a portable mixer, which is mandatory to use for baking in today’s era rather than trying to bake like bakers from the 19th century. So footage of the product’s capabilities is demonstrated and an add-on is included which sharpens knives. In case the can opener/knife sharpener wasn’t enough you now have a mixer that also sharpens knives. The next item if a buffet skillet perfect for catering and BBQs. The Head Elf is now seen skating on a frozen lake and remarks that another great gift is a spray steam/dry iron which we then see Hank and the other elf(makes me wish he had a name) ride on a giant dry iron which bumps the head elves sending him flat on his bottom. I hope they don’t turn that thing on or they could end up being several feet under icy water. The iron is demonstrated and comments it comes in two different colored handles. After the introductions of those items the three elves placed the items in separate boxes ready to be wrapped as presents. After finishing wrapping the gifts they are then placed under the G.E. Christmas tree and after all that hard work the elves sat by the tree knowing they did good. The ad ends with the ornament of the G.E. logo that’s still on top of the tree.
These ads were very well made and even give you the idea of what people bought back in 1964. As well as what was being advertised when the original Rudolph TV special originally aired on NBC(aka the Peacock channel). Which would lead to the success of later Rankin Bass productions for another 20 years down the road. The ads themselves were animated by the Rankin Bass company themselves proving they did commercials as well as movies and tv specials. The real shame is that they went out of business by 2002 due to the box office failure of the 2-D animated version of the “King and I” and the poor performance of their final TV special “Santa Baby”(based off of the song). The company was one of a kind and accomplished tons of memorable movies and TV specials. Even though the company is no more their good titles continue to inspire and entertain newer generations for years to come. Rudolph is one of their most important titles and anyone who likes a great holiday special or a stop motion animated feature will no doubt enjoy the TV special itself. Keep in mind that regardless of it being a G rated TV special it’s something everyone should be allowed to watch regardless of how old you are. With that speech out-of-the-way, here’s the ad and be sure to see the Afflac ad next.