Saturday, November 14, 2020

Thinking About Ads.

RHYS BOWEN: The other day I had to buy salt. How often does one buy ordinary table salt? Every few years? And I found I was going for Morton Salt. As my hand reached for it my brain sang “No salt salts like Morton salt salts.” Obviously an ad that worked well since I remembered it fifty years after it came out. I could recall others too: You deserve a break today. Two all beef patties, special sauce lettuce cheese… Give me a break, break me off some of that Kit Kat bar. And even further back: See the USA in your Chevrolet. And then I tried to think of any contemporary ad that has stayed with me. In the past the ads were for everyday things, things that would be useful, and they had catchy lyrics. 




Now? Now they are either cars: “Put a Lexus under the tree for her”.

 Or they are strange medications with unpronounceable names. Who makes up those names? They are not the pharmaceutical ingredients. They are MADE UP!  Is that a profession I could aspire to as a writer? Or do you have to be Polish since some of them are seriously lacking in vowels. Xzpykmlo can manage your diabetes/arthritis/leg cramps. Who has ever watched TV and jumped up, rushing to phone their doctor and tell him they need Xzpykmlo immediately? So who are those ads aimed for? And if you bother to listen to the fine print at the end: Xzpykmlo for leg cramps. And then in a tiny quick voice: side effects include nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, dizziness, hair loss and death. That last word is only just audible. And if you were listening you think “would I rather have leg cramps, itch skin or death?” So let’s go down memory lane: which ads do you still remember from long ago? Are they all song lyrics? Do songs stay with us longer? 

 HALLIE EPHRON: In random order… and I know I’m dating myself: Use ajax, the foaming cleanser… Pop pop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is… Double your pleasure, double your fun… You’ll wonder where the yellow went… Take Sominex tonight and sleeeeep… I am stuck on band-aids… Brylcream, a little dab’ll do ya... Jingles have gone the way of the dodo. Or perhaps the way of the Geico Gekko. And these days visual trumps verbal. No wonder since most of us mute the ads.

 LUCY BURDETTE: We don’t generally watch as much TV as we have over the past few weeks, and I too was struck by the rush of medical ads for unusual ailments. I guess they must do the research to figure out their audience? The one ad that is permanently stuck in my head is a song/ditty: 800-325-35-35. Do you remember that? I had to look it up to learn that it’s the toll free number for Sheraton! 

 JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Hallie, I was scrubbing the bathroom last week and singing, “Use Ajax, boom, boom, the blue dot cleanser…” I can’t remember where I’ve put my car keys or my son’s phone number, but I’ll probably go to my grave humming a tune from an ad campaign that was over by the time I was ten. Songs definitely stay with us longer. Some of the non-singing ones I recall from my youth: “Where’s the beef?” You know it’s a good ad when the tag phrase literally enters the national lexicon. Apple’s 1984 ad, casting us back to the halcyon days when we thought home computers were going to save us from an authoritarian demagogue and his brainwashed minions. The Folgers ads! I still recall the ones where some innocent diner in a fancy restaurant was surprised when their after--dinner coffee was switched to Folgers - and it was even better! And of course, the heartwarming “Peter comes home for Christmas” - no, not the weird one from the aughts when Peter and his sister were a little too close. The original had a much smaller sister. The message was the same, though: the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup. 

 DEBORAH CROMBIE: We don't watch much TV these days, either, and when we do it usually has ad-skip enabled. But when I actually see the ads, like Rhys, I am always shocked by all the weird drugs. Who on earth calls their doctors and asks for all these things? But it must be effective or the big pharma companies wouldn't spend all that money on them! Boy, do those jingles date us! The first one that popped in my head was, "Rice-a-roni, the San Francisco treat!" Ding ding! How about Campbell's Soup? "Mmm, good!" Alkaseltzer, Folger's, and Maxwell House--Good to the Last Drop! And how could we ever forget, "Double your pleasure, double your fun!" I hate to think that jingles have gone the way of the dodo. 

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I always worry when I tell audiences that book promotion is “like that Prell commercial.” In fact, I am so worried that they’ll have no idea about “she’ll tell two friends, then they’ll tell two friends…” that I just go on and explain itl Remember that? I hope? Then “I’d like to teach the world to sing”--remember how innovative and almost inspirational that was? “I’m a pepper, she’s a pepper, he’s a pepper, too.” Do I remember correctly that James Patterson wrote that? How about: Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A. And if I never hear the deliberately annoying 1-877 Kars-for-kids again, I would be so happy. And what was the jingle for the perfume--oh, Heaven Sent. “A little bit naughty but heavenly…Hea….ven SEEENNNNTTT! ” And wasn't there one for Charlie, too? Kinda young, kinda now, Charlie! Kinda free, kinda wow, Charlie! Stop me. Now I’ll be singing all day. 

 JENN McKINLAY: So many ad jingles are from my childhood. I can’t really think of any recent ones that have stuck with me. Food was always the big one for me. “My bologna has a first name...it’s O-S-C-A-R…” or “JELL-O” or “Give me a break of that Kit Kat bar.” And then there’s random ones like “I’m a big kid now” for Huggies, “State Farm is there” for insurance, or “I’m stuck on Band-Aid” which I sing every time I have a boo-boo. I suspect advertisers these days are just looking to have the most shareable meme worthy content, hoping to go viral. (sigh) It makes me miss the jingles.

RHYS: So which jingles do you remember? I suppose the early ads were written initially for radio where sound mattered. Now we are visual, fast moving, flashing colors and.... ethnically diverse!
But have you ever rushed out to buy something because of an ad you saw recently? Me neither!

81 comments:

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  3. I remember the same lyrics everyone has mentioned: Maxwell House coffee, Oscar Mayer bologna, Band-Aids. . . . My favorite commercial from when I was a kid was the Lestoil twins commercial but I don’t remember it having a jingle . . . .

    The two current commercials that I really like have no jingles, no speaking, just music. One is the blue dancing letters for Geico [which I appreciate because there is nothing but music]; the other is the eloquent Dove In Our Hands commercial . . . .

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    1. There’s less toil with Lestoil, so clean the Lestoil way! Use it for your laundry and your painting walls, floors and woodwork anything at all… Wash away dirt and grease and oil: it’s so easy when you use Lestoil.

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    2. Well, there’s a part of my brain that’s filled with something useless :-)

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  4. I blessedly never see TV commercials unless they are for Viking Cruise on PBS, but you've sent me down memory lane here!

    "Only her hairdresser knows for sure." "Brusha, brusha, brusha, brusha with Ipana...toothpaste." "Oh, I'd like to be an Oscar Meyer wiener, that is what I'd truly like to be..." and one that I'll probably be singing to my grave, Hallie: "Winners, warm up with Malto-meal..."

    Newer ones: "Love - it's a Subaru" and "1-800-54-GIANT"

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    1. Ipana! Edith, thanks for that memory. Entranced by the jingle and the American Indian headdress cap, I convinced my parents to buy it. The horrible, but indescribable taste remains all these years later. As a long time Subaru owner that Love is spot on!

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  5. “I love Bosco. Bosco is for me. Bosco gives me iron and sunshine vitamin D.” No matter have much I sang that to my mother, she never made me chocolate milk! Thanks, Rhys, for the Saturday morning smile.

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  6. I only can relate to a couple of your adds that were translated in French like Maxwell House and Campbell.

    Lucy made me think of phone number for a language school: 254-6011. We only needed seven digits fifty years ago. I don't remember my on number but never forgot the school one.

    This one for chicken delivery is as old and you should understand it even in French: Ring Ring Ring, que d├ęsirez vous ?
    Put Put Put, St-Hubert B-B-Q

    We don't have weird m├ędicaments adds but the Shingrix came fairly regularly in the last years and combined to people
    I know who got shingles , I did take the vaccine.

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    1. They to be so much more fun to listen to in Frenchanted!

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    2. When I was a teen I used to listen to Radio Luxembourg which one could pick up on British radio and it had commercials in French. I remember several still!

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  7. I still remember a commercial jingle from my mother's era. I never saw the ad myself, but she made a joke about it when I was ten or so. Since I didn't get the joke, she taught me the lyric and, for reasons known only to the jukebox of my brain, I still remember it: Pepsi Cola hits the spot! Twelve full ounces--that's a lot! Twice as much for a nickel too. Pepsi Cola is the drink for you! (Nickel, nickel, nickel . . . in a descending choral fadeout.) Yeah. Really. I drink Coke now.

    Fun trivia: In the 2008 film "Last Chance Harvey," Dustin Hoffman plays an advertising jingle writer who gets fired because nobody wants jingles anymore. It's okay. He grumps off to London to his daughter's wedding and falls for Emma Thompson. Also, didn't Barry Manilow write "You deserve a break today" for McDonald's?

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    1. Oh, that’s true, if I remember correctly… Something weird like that.

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    2. Oh, I remember that movie! It would be fun to pull up again.

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  8. Long ago cigarette commercial..
    "I'd rather fight than switch"

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    1. Yes! And take it off, take it all off. Can you believe that was on TV?

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    2. I am pretty sure it was a shaving commercial. Did it feature Joe Namath?

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    3. Debs, it was "Calgon, take me away!"

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  9. The one that currently is sung in this house is the Dr. Pepper one from the fifties: Dr. Pepper is the friendly pepper upper, Dr Pepper never ever lets you down. Except of course we change it to Sgt. Pepper! I remember all the ones that were mentioned, and I even remember that Ipana was the sponsor for my favorite radio show, "My Friend Irma."

    How about "I'm Tallulah the Tube of Prell."
    And best and longest shampoo name of all: "Gee, You're Hair Smells Terrific."

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  10. It's slinky, it's slinky, it's a wonderful toy...everyone wants a slinky. Armour hot dogs...the dogs kids love to bite. My bologna has a first name is OSCAR, my bologna has a second name, it's MAYER.

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  11. Hmmm...let's see:

    Plop Plop Fizz Fizz, oh what a relief it is!

    Snap! Crackle! Pop!

    Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids!

    They're GREEEAT!

    He likes it, Hey Mikey!

    Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day.

    My bologna has a first name...

    The Pillsbury doughboy's little squeal when he's poked in the belly.

    7-Up's "Never had it, Never will" (delivered with that deep rumbling voice of Geoffrey Holder)

    That "Let's All Go To The Lobby" ad in movie theaters with the singing/dancing refreshments.

    The Kool-Aid Man's "Oh Yeaaaah!" as he busts through walls.

    Leggo My Eggo!

    The Best Part of Waking Up is Folger's in your cup.

    Where's The Beef?

    I'm a Toys 'R Us Kid!

    Ahem...yes, I watched entirely too much TV growing up.

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    1. Oh, and I forgot about "They're always after me Lucky Charms!"

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    2. Of course, this is my all-time favorite commercial. It only aired a few times because it was considered controversial. I just think it was undeniably hilarious. I give you - "Backseat Conception" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ussS2o93q1M

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    3. I was just thinking of I’m a Toys-R-Us kid, Jay. Good one

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    4. @jay Roberts That youtube ad is terrific!

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    5. Jay, don't they still play "Let's all go to the lobby," in theaters? I could swear I've seen it recently. But then I haven't been to a movie in almost a year...

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    6. Libby and Gigi, that ad aired on TV. I remember it. It was great. The first time I saw the edited version of the commercial I was so disappointed. The original cut, which is the link I provided is just THE BEST!

      Rhys, glad I could remind you of that Toys R' Us jingle.

      Deborah, I'm not sure if it plays in theaters a lot, but I'm sure there must be some that still show it. With theaters trying to be more and more high tech though, I would imagine most have stopped showing it. I mean it was made in 1957 so it is somewhat outdated.

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    7. Jay, I think I saw that ad on tv once. Yep, edited version is probably still too much for network tv.

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    8. Judy, the edited version cut to an outside view of the car with the mom saying something like "Concord, New Hampshire" as where the baby was conceived. It was just so lame.

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    9. Actually it was Concord, Massachusetts. Here's the edited lameass version - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNdVt9g2hUc

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  13. Yo quiero Taco Bell?

    Nestle's is the very best...chooooocolate.

    LSMFT: Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco (remember when there were actually liquor and cigarette ads on TV?)

    Cigars, cigarettes, Tiparillos? (Sexy!)

    Got milk?

    I'd rather fight than switch!

    I'm Chiquita Banana and I'm here to say, I'm the top banana in the world today.

    Pardon me, but do you have Grey Poupon?

    Only YOU can prevent forest fires.

    Mikey won't eat it, he hates everything. Hey, Mikey!

    I can't believe I ate the whole thing.

    Atsa some speecy meatball.

    I also can't remember my own husband's phone number (I get the 8 and 3 mixed up), but these darn things are glued in my brain permanently.

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    1. Also, You'll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.

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    2. Was this just local to Ohio? Tut, tut, nothin' but Butternut Bread.

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    3. It's Shake and Bake, and I hayelped!

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    4. Karen, these are great! And now I'm going to have "Nestle is the very best... chocolate" stuck in my head all day.

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    5. Debs, remember the puppet dog singing the commercial? Farfle was his name.

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  14. I asked my doctor and yes, people see the drug commercials (spend a $1000 dollars a month and you, too, can clamber over rocks taking magnificent bird photos) and call for a prescription.

    Every year I watch for the John Lewis commercial on youtube (music, a story in pictures, no words) from London. Remember the wild animals on the trampoline?

    I remember all the jingles and TV ads (Norelco Santa anyone? Every kiss begins with K) but also my favorite print ads: "What becomes a legend most?", "Danskins are not just for dancing", "The echo of an interesting woman". All created by advertising giant Jane Trahey, who wrote one of my favorite childhood books, Life with Mother Superior. I heard Jacqueline Winspear interviewed this week, and she alluded to the book, one of her childhood favorites.

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    1. ... I dreamed I climbed a mountain in my Maidenform bra.

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    2. Oh, that's hilarious/horrible, Karen. I remember those ads. Anybody dream about bras lately?

      I had no idea those iconic ads were created by a woman, Margaret. I figured it was all just ad guys, all the way down.

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    3. Margaret, the John Lewis ad was Buster the Boxer, with the trampoline. My favorite ever and I watch them every year. I even bought my granddaughter a stuffed Buster and the companion book back from London.

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    4. https://escholarship.org/content/qt8nf958vh/qt8nf958vh_noSplash_97bd8ae31a7409180209ba724477f16a.pdf
      In 2016, someone wrote a PhD dissertation on the Maidenform bra "I dreamed" ads.

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    5. Holy underwire, 343 pages!!

      Thanks, Margaret. I look forward to reading some of this.

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  15. Hilarious. Thanks Rhys. I remember almost every one except for the ones in French. Didn't Colgate have "gardall?"

    Remember the Lucky Strike dancers dressed in cigarette boxes?

    And Wheaties "the breakfast of Champions."

    And "Sugar Corn Pops are tops."

    "My name is Buster Brown, I live in a shoe..."

    "N-e-s-t-l-e-s, Nestles makes the very best ...choc-lit."

    So many ditties. I had a friend who wrote them for local businesses.

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  16. “Don’t walk in the middle of the block, don’t walk in the middle of the block! Don’t walk in the middle, don’t walk in the middle, don’t walk in the middle of the block!”

    “”They have histories, they have mysteries, and for Mother, books of recipes!” and “it’s the latest, it’s the greatest. It’s the library!”

    DebRo

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    1. Now I think maybe it was “don’t CROSS in the middle of the block.”

      DebRo

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  17. This is fun going down commercial memory lane

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  18. Nancy Walker in the Bounty towel commercials "The quicker picker upper" and I think it was her dancing around in the Fantastick commercials: "I do like the cleaning but not with a bucket, I just use Fantastik it's stronger than strong." And of course there was Mr. Whipple and Don't Squeeze the Charmin. "You deserve a break today, so get up and get away to McDonald's" (I think Barry Manilow sang some of the McDonalds commercials -not sure if he sang that one.) Then there's the very un-PC "Ancient Chinese secret, huh?" "Ring around the collar" and the classic "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan and never let you forgot you're a man 'cause I'm a woman. Enjoli" Miss all the jingles! My mom remembers a very old one, "Ticonderoga pencils have won their way to fame as the fine American pencil with the fine American name."

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    1. And how about Choo-Choo Charlie, the engineer who used Good & Plenty candy to make the train run? And another Charlie: "Sorry, Charlie, only good-tasting tuna get to be Starkist"

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    2. Yeah, I always wondered AWHY Carlie would want to be put into a can.

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  19. It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

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    1. I remember live tv ads and the infamous Timex one. They strapped a watch onto the propeller of an outboard motor, lowered it into a tank, and started it going. When they stopped and lifted the motor out, the watch had come loose and was in the bottom of the tank, out of reach. Not missing a beat, the announcer said something to the effect that if I had the watch, you'd see it's still running. "Takes a licking and keeps on ticking."

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  20. Forget about jingles--I can't get these taglines out of my memory: Mother, please, I'd rather do it myself!!! Is it soup yet? And Crest has been shown to be an effective decay-preventive dentifrice that can be of significant value when used in a program of dental hygiene and regular professional care (at least, that's the way I remember it). What's a dentrfrice anyway? And why do I remember these?

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  21. It’s amazing how an ad jungle can bring you back to a specific moment in your life. Great post, Rhys!

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  22. And then there was "Does she or doesn't she? Only her hairdresser knows!" a question that was understood one way by women, but a totally different way by men.

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    1. When Shirley Polykoff met her future Yiddish-speaking mother-in-law for the first time, the woman pulled her son aside and asked if Shirley's hair color was natural or not (does she or does she not color her hair?) I don't think her son realized that she did, but Shirley wasn't telling. In the fifties, genteel women didn't admit to coloring their hair. Her slogan changed the entire market.

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  23. Great post today! I was reminded of the novel DEATH ADVERSTIZES, a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery and I cannot recall the exact words though I recall laughing at the clever puns for different products in the novel.

    Off the top of my head, I recall an ad for coffee. "Good to the last drop" ?

    Diana

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  24. Is it true blondes have more fun?
    Hey Mabel! Black Label!
    Palmolive dish soap. So mild you're soaking in it. Or Palmolive softens hands while you do dishes!
    You'll look sharp every time you shave. You'll feel sharp every time you shave.
    Hello mellow Jax little darling. . .

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  25. I drink Dr Pepper doncha' know












    Dr Pepper so misunderstood. If anyone would try you they'd know you taste good. . .


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    1. Dr Pepper is practically a cult in Texas. Funny that they'd advertise it as "misunderstood." Was "enjoy one at 10, 2, and 4" a Coke thing or a Dr Pepper thing? I always thought it was DP.

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    2. I'm a Pepper, you're a Pepper. She's a Pepper, too!

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  26. Here's one only people of a certain age who lived in the L.A. area might remember, but for some reason it's burned into my brain:
    Stanley, Stanley, Stanley Chevrolet, two blocks off the Santa Ana Freeway, 11980 East Firestone, Stanley Chevrolet. It was sung by Molly Bee, who was a minor celebrity at the time.
    Also:
    Woo, woo, woo Welshes
    Brusha, brusha, brusha, with Ipana toothpaste, it was Bucky the Beaver in the TV ad.
    And that Timex ad where John Cameron Swazy says "It takes a licking and keeps on ticking".
    Get stuff.

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  27. Such fun today, Rhys! Thanks for the chuckles! And all the earworms...

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  28. I loved the chiquita banana commercial. I remember singing " my dog's bigger than your dog, my dog's bigger than yours,my dog's bigger coz he eats Ken l ration". The ones that stick with me are from childhood.

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  29. In southern California Cal Worthington (and his dog Spot) had a jingle for his car lots that ended with Go see Cal three times.

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