1985 Panasonic Personal Stereo
Wait, what? This is an ad for, as the oh-so-80s-New-Wave-singer song says, Panasonic Personal Stereo. That means the context of all the devices in this commercial are that they are meant to be portable. So that device seen about six seconds in...is that supposed to be a boombox? A portable boombox? That plays vinyl records? I never knew there was such a thing.
1983 - WPIX-FM
Nostalgia for the New York metro radio market, and the days of WPIX, 102 on your radio dial, which in this year played "love songs, nothing but love songs." If the cute animation doesn't draw you in, yacht-rockers Air Supply might.
1987 - UnderEat
Okay, yes, we all got our minds blown by the Ayds commercial. But this one, my goodness, this one is like an ad from the Pro-Anorexia Council.
1985 - Panasonic 2-Piece Camcorder
Look at how good you kids have it today! Us old dudes use to have camcorders that came in two pieces! Three, if you count the docking station! And it was all huge! And heavy! And you tell me...do your parents and grandparents ever watch the video they shot with this thing? Hmm? Odds are that at least some of you out there had your birth recorded on this suitcase of a cam.
1983 - RCA Selectavision Laserdisc Player
This device was a non-laser version of a laserdisc player, using a cartridge to hold the videodisc for insertion into the player. Imagine if you had to watch your DVDs by putting them, slimline jewel box and all, into the player, and then not having it play until you took the jewel box back out with the disc left behind in the player. On the one hand, not such a bad idea, it keeps your discs from getting scratched. On the other hand, more moving parts and gears to break. It didn't last long.
1987 - Call for Tales of Terror
Daddy, tell me a story. Make it scary. Oh, you have to work? Mommy, tell me a story. Make it scary. Oh, you have to work? I have to call some strangers and have THEM tell me scary stories? Okay, but this isn't going to come out of my allowance, is it? It is?
1999 - Volkswagen Cabrio
Commercial for the Volkswagen Cabrio, a much-loved ad because of the sweet story it tells and the Nick Drake song "Pink Moon" that accompanies it.
1985 - Calvin Klein's Obsession
So happy! Today I find one of my Holy Grail commercials I'd hoped to find. It's one of the original Calvin Klein's Obsession perfume ads that went on to be parodied so well on Saturday Night Live in their commercial for "Compulsion."
1985 - Jack La Lanne
The younger members of the audience will not appreciate the context of this commercial, but it was sort of empowering to those of us who grew up watching the feminist movement rise, because by 1985, it meant that we could be seen on national television making men into depersonalized sex objects and slyly noting that male tushies can be openly stared at. (Although, in keeping with the theme of the jeans commercials elsewhere here, you'll see that the guy's butt was flat as a board, as was the fashion at the time.)
Mostly, though, I personally like this commercial because of that part where they say "Muscles! Definitely muscles!" followed by the one woman's casual arm-wave and her command to "Come back here," which is so very casual it almost feels adlibbed, and you don't see that often in a commercial.
1983 - Glen Oaks Village
For this commercial, all I have to say is that it demonstrates how the passage of time makes things quite politically incorrect, and I don't think this commercial would make it on the air today. Plus, I don't think most New Yorkers would savor the idea of being landlord over one apartment, and one that's already occupied by god-knows-what kind of tenant.
1983 - Coney Island Astroland Back-Fire
For a short period of time, as part of Coney Island's then-new Astroland, the famous Cyclone wooden roller coaster could be ridden backwards. This commercial shows it in action.
1987 - Call The Dead
Welcome, friends, to number two in the series "Who do they think they're selling their product to, and why should this commercial make anyone want to buy it?" Back in the late 80's, there was a fad for phone services. This was back before the internet became easily accessible for most people, but we knew how to dial a phone, so you would have loads of dial-a-date services and whatnot. You'd call a number, and for some outrageous amount of money, you'd call and get hooked up to some random person, or a psychic, or Corey Feldman, or whatever. It's where the phrase "chat rooms" for instant message communities came from, people use to do the same thing they do now in chat rooms, but with actual voice chat on actual telephones with no computer involved. Anyway, these phone services became increasingly specialized, and I think this commercial represents the most ridiculously specialized and pointless phone service a person could have wasted money on. Yes, you can Talk To A Zombie. The REALLY weird thing is, the commercial seems to imply that most of the zombies you talk to are prerecorded, with the CHANCE that if you call enough, you might get to talk to a LIVE zombie. My brain explodes.
1985 - G.E. Consumer Electronics
A commercial which embodies the excess, the sheer too-much-ness typifying the 1980's. Sure, go ahead, buy a boombox from GE. No, wait, we can't sell boomboxes because they sound good. We have to sell the audience on buying a boombox, no, two boomboxes, no, two boomboxes AND a portable cassette player, and we'll do it by showing them that if they do, they can Save The Ice Queen!
1985 - Pioneer Electronics
In 1985 Worthington Bramwell, a stockbroker and Master Of The Universe on Wall Street, was asked to remove himself from his Tribeca loft. That request came from his live-in girlfriend who he never truly loved but who had good street connections for scoring the best coke and whose name was on the loft lease. Deep down he knew she was right. But he also knew that someday he would return to her. With nowhere else to go, he appeared outside a random East Village rock club, the turf of his childhood friend, punk princess Hairy Debbie. Sometime earlier, Debbie's not-so-much-a-boyfriend-but- everybody-including-her-loves- the-guy companion had thrown her out, citing his need to turn their apartment into a performance space. Can two clashing subcultures share a New York sidewalk space without driving each other crazy?
1988 - NYNEX Yellow Pages
Part of a series of really funny commercials. NYNEX really knew what they were doing when they approved of this campaign. It was always a blast, at least I thought so, to try and figure out what the Yellow Pages entry was going to be based on what little scenario you were seeing played out before the category was revealed.
2000 - Oldsmobile
I am a stone-cold sucker for anything that uses the Gary Numan song "Cars," so the fact that it's for an actual car is even better.
1998 - Volkswagen Jetta
In the days when Nina Myers, infamous turncoat femme fatale of "24," was still a humble worker on her way up the Counter Terrorist Unit organization chart, she had to carpool like so many others do. And here she is (well, Sarah Clarke is), enjoying a moment of magic in a Volkswagen.
1987 - Lady Speed Dry
Headbands? Check. Pastel pink and blue leotards? Check. Tights? Check. We must be in the presence of a classic assemblage of 1980's aerobic exercisers, fresh out of the class and ready to put on an antipersperant that seems to brag about how much white it leaves when spread on because of the extra-wide roller.
1993 - Sony Power of CD
Rest In Peace, Tower Records, which used to count on the power of those CDs to stay in business.
1984 - Agree shampoo
A fresh-faced and cheery young lass sings into her hairbrush and dances in her room, and her swingin' bouncy hair makes Agree shampoo look gooooooood.
Weird Al Live - Yoda Chant
Weird Al Yankovic live at the North Fork Theater, Westbury, NY, June 2, 2007. Amazing video and audio considering it was taken with a tiny little digital camera (Sony Cybershot DSC-W70, movie mode, 3x zoom). Also, notice Al moving slightly from left to right on the screen. The North Fork has an in-the-round stage, so all during the show the band was rotating!