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5 Things You Never Knew (Or Forgot) About 80’s Commercials…

1. The Battle of the Bunnies…

Everyone remembers the Energizer Bunny commercials that began in 1989.  Who can forget that pink bunny beating his drum while wearing sunglasses and proclaiming Energizer Batteries “just keep going and going”.  But few people remember that the very first pink battery bunny was actually the Duracell bunny who made his first appearance in 1973.  In fact the first Energizer Bunny commercial in 1989 was a parody mocking the Duracell Bunnies and claiming that Energizer will outlast them.

The Duracell Bunny was an anthropomorphic pink bunny powered by Duracell batteries. While the Enegizer bunny is a single rabbit, the Duracell Bunnies were a species.

The Energizer Bunny has become infamous over the years spawning many parodies and has appeared in over 115 television commercials.
When the Duracell Bunny debuted in North America, it was intended to be just a one-shot character, but when Energizer’s parody became a great success, Duracell decided to revive the Duracell Bunny.  Energizer Batteries thwarted this by filing a North American trademark over “battery bunnies”,  effectively ending the Duracell Bunny in the U.S. and Canada. ​Despite the immense popularity of the campaign, sales of Energizer batteries actually went down during the years that the ads ran.

2. The Cheesiest Thing Bruce Willis Ever Did…

Do you remember those Seagram’s Golden Wine Cooler commercials? If not allow me to refresh your memory…
 He may have kicked some serious ass in the Die Hard series, but in this mid-1980s commercial, super tough guy Bruce Willis shows his more gentle side.​ We find him on a porch dancing and twirling to his love of Seagrams. The ads feature Bruce and his “boys” letting loose on a porch and singing about how awesome wine coolers are. “Hey big fellas, look here,” he sings. “It’s wet and it’s dry — my, my, my. Me and the boys love, love, love it all the time.”
In later Seagram’s commercials Willis continues to tout his love for his favorite wine coolers. He meets up with Sharon Stone in a bar, does a whimsical blues number and even dances it out with some “simply irresistible” 1980’s babes. (Seriously if you don’t remember these I suggest taking the time out to peruse them all.) Despite the epic cheesiness of the campaign ad the commercials became wildly popular.  With Bruce Willis as their uncomfortably embarrassing pitchman, Seagram rose from fifth place among distillers to first in just two years.  In a rather ironic twist of fate Willis was fired as Seagram’s spokesman for getting busted driving drunk. I guess Bruce may of liked those Golden beauties a little too much.

3. The World’s Most Famous Party Animal…

I don’t think there has ever been a more memorable spokes model for beer than the dog himself, Spuds MacKenzie.
Spuds MacKenzie was a fictional dog character created for use in an extensive Bud Light marketing campaign in the 80s.

Discovered by an ad agency, posters of the dog as Spuds MacKenzie sitting behind a goblet of Bud Light while wearing a “Delta Omicron Gamma” fraternity sweatshirt began to pop up at college campuses. The premise—original party animal—proved so popular that wholesalers demanded Anheuser-Busch put Spuds on television.
Spuds became the coolest of party dogs, featured in tons of commercials partying it up with the hottest babes. Spuds became so popular the dog was soon surrounded by controversy.  Shortly after Spud’s rise to fame it was learned that “he” was in actuality a female.  The ads also became the subject of attacks and calls for censorship. Soon after the ads were first aired in 1987, Senator Strom Thurmond began his own media campaign, claiming that the beer maker was using Spuds to appeal to children for the purpose of getting them interested in their product at an early age. More legal action resulted from Budweiser’s use of ads featuring Spuds dressed as Santa, which is illegal in states such as Ohio. Anheuser-Busch decided to retire Spuds in 1989,  because they felt the character’s image had started to overshadow the product.  The real Spuds, Honey Tree Evil Eye, passed away in 1993.  Spuds still lives in infamy and will always be the original party animal.

4. “And Thank You For Your Support…”

​Alright here we are, back to wine coolers, people in the 80’s really loved them some wine coolers.  By far the most famous commercial characters were Frank Bartles and Ed Jaymes.
Patterned after two men who started a little winery which eventually became the Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery, two older gentleman characters sat on a front porch and related their new discoveries or projects on which they were working.  ​Bartles did all the talking, and ended each commercial with the tagline, “… and thank you for your support.” They would often play off their folksiness and drop B & J in odd situations like flying a bi-plane over a beach full of party goers to air drop their wine coolers to the grateful folks below.
Of course, nowadays they’re a bit of a punchline, but back in the 80s, dude… they were just about as radical as it got.  Who would of thought two old guys yapping on a porch could become icons of a young generation. The commercials were so wrong on so many levels that they instantly became a huge success.  
David Rufkahr played Frank Bartles and Dick Maugg played Ed Jaymes.  Most people don’t know that prior to the ads neither of them had acted.  Rufkahr, a career Air Force veteran and cattle rancher from Redmond, Oregon, won the job in a talent search.  Maugg was a Santa Rosa contractor and developer who happened to be a friend of the ad agency director.   Ten days before the first Bartles & Jaymes commercial was shot, agency staffers arrived at his home where they “put a baseball cap on me,” he told the Associated Press in 1988, “started shooting film and told me to say, ‘Hello there,’ a couple of times.”       Whatever man, it worked.

5.  We’ll Be Back After These Messages…

Who can forget watching Saturday morning cartoons?  Every time there was a commercial break they would play those bumpers reminding you that they would “be right back”.  Just hearing one of these makes me nostalgic and I can almost taste cereal.
These bumpers used to play on Saturday mornings on ABC.  They first appeared in 1988 and were animated by Olive Jar Animation Studios in Boston.
​How did these bumpers become apart of our Saturday morning ritual? You can blame the FCC and the Action for Children’s Television (ACT) non-profit. In 1970, the ACT drafted several proposals for the FCC about children’s programming. They asked for the networks to include 14 hours of children-appropriate programming throughout the week, and they demanded that all commercials be removed.  Advertisers weren’t exactly thrilled by this and the FCC came up with their own set of rules. They made it a regulation that all children’s shows must have a clear separation between programming and commercials. Thus these creative and fun bumpers were born. They lasted throughout the 1980’s. Eventually though research found that they actually made it more difficult for children to distinguish the commercials and they went away. However, those catchy tunes will live in our heads forever.

Do you love the 80’s? Don’t miss the biggest throwback party of the year – The 15th Annual 80’s Prom!
Thousands gather under the neon star in Cains Ballroom to flash back to the 1980s.  Outrageous costumes & hair, DJs and dancing, Fashion Show, Stage Acts, Prom style photo booth, replica 80’s cars and much more make it an amazing experience not soon to be forgotten. April 29, 2017 tickets on sale now at