Monthly Archives: June 2013
Before I do my traditional beer month articles, I like to do an article on an extinct electronic store called Circuit City. While I was never a fan of the store when it was still in business, it was tragic for the place to go out of business during the early years of the economy going bad. I tried to apply there once, but they never got back at my resume and I’m glad they never did cause I would have only been employed for less than 6 months cause it was around the time when the stores were all going out. I even remember getting the Nintendo Wii version of Sam & Max Season 1 game for a low price on my last visit to the store. Anyways now for a brief history on the now defunct store brand.
The store started off as an independently owned retail store in Richmond, Virgina. The store was known as Wards back then and the founder of the store was Samuel S. Wurtzel, the name of the store was based on of the initials of Wurtzel’s family: W = Wurtzel; A = Alan; R = Ruth; D = David; S = Sam. The store eventually inspired other stores nationwide until in 1984 the Wards store became what is known for the rest of its life span: Circuit City. Which then lead to a long line of memorable commercials for the next 20 years. The commercial I found to be most memorable was the 1989 Anthem Song. It was the theme that I most associated with Circuit City, the moment I hear that catchy tune I immediately said: “Circuit City!”. Even after they stop playing the song on their ads I still like to hum the slogan in the song that goes: “When you’re at Circuit City, where service is state of the art!”. The only mascot the company was known for having was Pluggy the Plug who only appeared in a few TV ads from 1998 to 2001. He never spoke and only appeared with the products that Circuit City had to offer. The character was also created to associate with the giant plug that forms the entrance to the store in all of the early commercials.
By 2009, after no longer able to keep up with competition and unable to find a buyer, all of the Circuit City stores in the USA went out of business for good. And after that a lot of the former stores became something else or they are still intact as a grave site of what used to be a booming electronic store. But it was a loss I didn’t mind cause I did mention that I wasn’t a big fan of the store to begin with. Also with the increase of the usage of online shopping and other retail stores that sell electronics and appliances, there’s no need for there to be a dozen different brand stores when only a hand full is all you need to buy when you need for your TV or computer.
Anyways enjoy the theme song commercial and be prepared for next week’s Second Anniversary article!
Flintstones have been associated with various ads over the years, that includes cereal, vitamins, and auto care. But how about cigarettes? That’s right there was a time when the show did advertise cigarettes or in this case Winston Cigarettes. The company was established in 1954 manufactured under R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and then later by the RJR Nabisco. And the Flintstones was one of its sponsors for the early part of the 60’s. In today’s standards it be inappropriate for a G rated cartoon TV show to advertise cigarettes but keep in mind that back when the Flintstones first aired on TV it was listed as a prime time show when decades later it was rebrand as a kids show. Let’s talk about the ads themselves.
There are two ads made for the opening & ending for the show and two ads made during the commercial break for the show. You know the original opening the predates the more famous “Yabba Dabba Do Time” song? Well originally it was followed with Fred smoking a cigarette and advertises Winston with the slogan: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should”. The other ad which is for the ending just shows Winston advertised on a stone carved billboard sign. In later years these segments were either censored out or were removed during reruns of the show on Boomerang or Cartoon Network. While the two ads associated with Winston is one about Barney & Fred taking a smoke break while Wilma & Betty are out doing chores. After they brag how much flavor Winston provides compare to other brands, they get caught for ditching chores and Wilma & Betty force them to do some yard work. The second and final ad I found features Fred visiting the Tobacconist named Rocky(voiced by Daws Butler) who uses a bird as the Smoke Shop’s ringing bell every time someone enters the shop. Wouldn’t it be easier to just have the bell attach to the top of the door rather than tying the bell to the bird? Also it will save Rocky some money on bird seeds. Anyways Fred buys some Winston cigarettes and expresses how he only buys Winston over any other brand that’s offered at any store.
These ads aired during the first two seasons of the Flintstones on the ABC Network from 1960-1961. But by the time the third season aired in 1962 the show became more geared towards kids by replacing the Winston ads as the sponsors with Welch’s Fruit Juice instead. After that Flintstones were never seen advertising cigarettes again. Of course you still see the characters smoke in the show but since the episodes don’t say Winston or any existing brands it’s ok. But in todays standards only animated shows geared towards teens and adults are allowed to show smoking. One more thing I should add is how could cigarettes exist in the Stone Age when the first cigarette was invented in the 9th century by the Mayans and didn’t became a sold product to Europe and soon the rest of the world by the 17th Century. Course the Flintstones is known for having a lot of historical inaccuracies like various appliances that wouldn’t be invented centuries later, the characters having stone related last names which is weird, electricity being commonly used when it wouldn’t be discovered by the 18th Century, Chirstmas being celebrated before the birth of Jesus, Dinosaurs living in the same age as man, and the English language being commonly used when it wasn’t first written until 100 AD. I know it’s just a cartoon, but these plot holes beg for an explanation.
Anyways enjoy the commercials and the next article on Circuit City.
8/15/13 Update: I like to talk about one extra commercial I discovered I left out, in this one it involves Barney repairing Fred’s record player. I totally don’t see how electricity can go through that so called wire that attach to the stone carved box. If Thomas Edison wasn’t the inventor of the Record Player then who was? It be as great of an answer as who was the person who invented fire and the wheel? I already bragged about the historical inaccuracies in the last paragraph so I’ll save this argument for another time. Anyways the record players uses a woodpecker(voiced by Mel Blanc) as the needle for a record player and a monkey to hold on to the record discs. People in Bedrock must have a savings account to put money aside to feed the animals who portray as appliances in their own homes. The record of choice is of course the Winston song and Fred pulls out a pack of Winstons and lets Barney have one upon completing the repairs.
On May 7th, Ray Harryhausen the veteran stop motion animator had past away. It was such a great loss that I felt I should do an article dedicated towards him with a commercial he was associated with. I could of done this article a month ago, but with the Star Trek articles in the way I had to postpone. So I decided to do it for this week since I already did a cigarette commercial last time. Besides feature length films, he also did documentaries and some commercials. This one was a demo and didn’t actually aired on TV, but was made back in mid-40’s and was Ray’s attempt to do three dimensional animation for TV commercials back when TV ads were new with the introduction of the first TV set that was going to placed into the market a couple years later. Two years another commercial was made by a different animator which looked similar to the one Ray did.
The commercial opens up with a living room where a pack of cigarettes starts dancing and the multiplies to two packs. Then multiplies to three packs and after a minute of a dance the packs lay rest on the table and then the cigarettes comes out of the packs and they dance instead. The whole sequence reminds me of the Porky Pig short titled “Wholly Smoke” which also featured dancing cigarettes. The cigarettes then form the letters: L.S.M.F.T. which then is revealed to be an abbreviation for Lucky Strikes Means Fine Tobacco. Then the cigarettes all go back inside the pack and thus the end of the demo ad. There are a couple other ads that are similar to this demo ad except they feature just dancing cigarettes and not cigarette packs. But still the same idea as Ray had with his vision on a cigarette commercial.
That’s all to say about this article, and I like to give my deepest condolences to those who knew Ray Harryhausen the best. He was a one of a kind special effects animator who was honored by many younger special effects artists who were either inspired by him or tribute to him in some way. Years from now the film Ray was involved with will be a big subject for various film classes and there’s also a hand full of his films that are yet to be released on Blu-ray so that way new generations can watch his works. For next time I will do an article on Winston Cigarettes with the Flintstones. Until then here are the commercials and a tribute video with James Rolfe of Cinemassacre.com made a year before the death of Ray Harryhausen. If I had to include just one video that tells how awesome Harryhausen was, I think Rolfe does it best cause he’s a huge expert on old cinema and video games.
Here is an article that my mom suggested to make after she previously visited the Lucille Ball museum. Since there is a good number of old commercials featuring the actress, it’s perfect for this blog. Also if you live in a house like mine, Lucille Ball is the most common image to see upstairs and down stairs. So after one month of Star Trek articles, I might as well do an article on an old commercial based on one of the earliest sitcoms that broke a few rules back in the 50’s. Also I don’t believe I ever did an article on a cigarette commercial before. Mainly cause it was a short-lived concept for advertising and there’s very few mascots for the product. Over the decades large measures have been made to minimize the advertising of tobacco related products in America including increase of non-smoking areas, tax on the purchase of tobacco, and the banishment of TV ads on cigarettes. Keep in mind that this ad aired back in the 50’s way before people knew smoking can cause cancer and other life threatening conditions. Which unlike today where there are ads that encourage people to quit smoking, I might do an article on one of those ads another time. Now for the summary.
The commercial opens with an obnoxious bell boy who shouts out “Call for Phil-lip Mor-ris!” who even has a patch of the same catch phrase. He makes the slow talking elevator operator(who says 30th floor slowly in a humorous way) from “Daffy Duck Slept Here” short film look like Ben Stein. Then we cut to Lucy & Ricky having a smoke break. Ricky notices they are down to their last cigarette and asked Lucy to get a new pack. Lucy then removes the painting behind them to reveal a safe and she takes out a new box of Phillip Cigarettes. Ricky who is now holding up the box tells the audience they probably think that he and Lucy are making a fuse on protecting their brand of cigarettes but tells the viewers that it’s their way of showing how precious the brand is to them. He would definitely know the basics of good tobacco after growing up on a tobacco farm in Cuba as hinting in the “Passport episode”. Ricky then expresses how smooth the flavor to the cigarettes are that they’re easy on the throat. At first yes, but if you smoke them long enough you’ll end up having a hole surgically inserted in your throat. So Rick tells viewers to call for Phillip Morris King Size pack at your local store. He encourages the viewers that they’ll love the brand and that Ricky and Lucy will love them for buying the brand over the other brands at a store. Lucy then kisses Ricky and he asked her what the kiss was for and she tells him he said it so beautifully. Ricky laughs a little and tells the viewers good night and Lucy says see you next week. Then we see the brand of cigarettes being advertised with the I Love Lucy show next to it.
This ad aired along with the show when it originally aired on TV in the 50’s. But was removed during reruns for various reasons. There’s not much to say about this ad, but I can tell you a little history on Phillip Morris. It was named after an actual Phillip Morris, a European who started his own tobacco company in 1854 in England which expanded to America by 1902. The company named was changed to Altria Group in 2003 and by 2010 the company shutdown due to a drop in needed cigarettes. I’m not surprised cause in today’s economy it’s not wise to get a job at a tobacco company when tobacco is a leading cause of a million deaths each year. Anyways hope you enjoyed the article as my mom will definitely enjoy it if it has Lucille Ball or anyone associated with the actress. Check out the next article on a Ray Harryhausen cigarette commercial.