It’s time for another batch of Classic Christmas Commercials, featuring pizza and laundry detergent and Ronald McDonald. Three of these are from my collection; the remaining are from our pal Larry. May they fill your hearts with joy, and your brains with really old ad jingles.
A Toys “R” Us Christmas! (1984)
So much to love about this one, from Geoffrey’s old school “baseball mascot” visage to that rare shot of Takara’s Kronoform watches, which transformed from timepieces into robot warriors!
While the commercial highlighted some specific products, it was more meant to reaffirm Toys “R” Us’s standing as the best place on the planet. For the seven-year-olds who hummed along to its theme song, that was 100% truth.
(And yes, you might notice that this “Christmas” commercial cannibalized footage from other, evergreen TRU commercials. Since the new footage consisted of Geoffrey and a little kid chilling in what was for all intents the house from A Christmas Story, that’s totally forgivable.)
Season’s Greetings from Wisk! (1988)
Some of you are gonna gloss over this Wisk commercial, which on the surface seems pretty unremarkable. Oh, how wrong you are. This ad was huge! It used to be on television constantly, and I’m not kidding when I say that I still can’t hear The Twelve Days of Christmas without wanting to trample over it with the Wiskified lyrics.
The commercial was doubtlessly effective. Even as a little kid who couldn’t have been less interested in laundry detergent, I’d perk up and pay attention every time this thing came on. Between this and Dinah Shore’s protracted bit in Pee-wee’s Christmas special, 1988 was a weirdly hot year for The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Pizza Hut’s Holiday Stuffer Pie! (1992)
I absolutely love the idea of an official Christmas pizza. This was brillaint!
In 1992, Pizza Hut unveiled the Holiday Stuffer, which for some reason correlated “Christmas” with “a pizza filled with ALL THE MEATS.” Hearing that voice-over dude list off the ingredients carries the air of a parody, because even when you’re certain that there can’t be any more meats, nope, here comes the pork.
Green peppers were also included, I guess to tie it in with the usual holiday color scheme?
One bite of that pie had to be like 800 bites of anything else, but I don’t care. I’m so down. An official Christmas pizza. This needs to be a thing again. Especially if “this being a thing again” means that Pizza Hut will do more commercials wherein people with trees tied to their cars brave further brutalization by massive snowstorms because they can’t resist meaty pizza.
McDonald’s: Star Wish! (1987)
Just another of the seeming dozens of yuletide commercials put out by McDonald’s in the ‘80s, Star Wish does have the distinction of being one of the fan favorites.
Here, Birdie and Grimace “rescue” a fallen star. In McDonaldland, stars are roughly the size of grapefruits, and they’re living, breathing creatures with adorable eyes and mouths. Naturally, Birdie and Grimace present it to Ronald as a Christmas present, because an animated, anthropomorphized star would so obviously be the perfect pet.
Ronald — notorious funsucker — tells Birdie and Grimace that stars are meant to be in the sky, and bids farewell to his surrogate puppy. You’re a better man than me, Ronald. If someone gives me a Mogwai in the form of a cartoon star, I’m soooo keeping that shit.
There ain’t a person my age who didn’t grow up lost in daydreams about pet stars. Thanks for keeping it weird, McDonald’s.
Sam Goody Got It! (1990)
This one has awful video quality, but the contents were too cool to ignore. For those who don’t remember, Sam Goody was an entertainment retailer with stores in virtually every shopping mall in the country, as if by some secret architectural mandate that was beyond our layman comprehension.
For a time, this was THE place to shop for music and videocassettes, or more accurately, browse through music and videocassettes for an hour before leaving without buying anything.
I dunno, maybe that was just me. I just felt so much more sophisticated I was in a Sam Goody. I didn’t know anything about music, and 30 dollar videocassettes were never coming home no matter how much I wanted them, but my stock seemed to raise the second I walked into those stores. Plummeted once I walked back out, but c’est la vie.
This rap-infused holiday commercial highlighted many of my favorites, like videos for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars. Chains like Sam Goody are a dying breed, so if you see a similar store in any of today’s malls, soak up its power while you still can!
PS: If for some reason you require more of my words, I wrote a few pieces for DealNews recently. Go check out my gift guide for ‘80s kids, and look at 10 of the wildest Darth Vader collectibles on eBay!