Classic Christmas Commercials, Volume 5!


Welcome to what could be this year’s last batch of Classic Christmas Commercials, donated by our pal Larry. Tonight, you’ll see everything from a super capitalistic Santa to a giant apple pitching cheap underwear. Are you excited?

Call Santa’s Hotline!

I’ve seen at least a dozen “Santa hotline” commercials, where various entrepreneurs preyed on every kid’s desire to form a special bond with the big man.

This one is particularly low-key, but I do enjoy the notion that Santa lives in front of a giant purple backdrop. While the voice-over lady clarified that you’d only hear a prerecorded message, you’ll notice that the action implies a live conversation with Santa Claus. (That never happened. At best, Santa would ask for Christmas lists, and then fall silent for a paid minute while clueless kids shouted about dolls and video games.)

In this case, you’d call to hear a special Christmas story from Santa. In the commercial, our hero hangs up after only 25 seconds, as if that was legitimately how long the stories took tell. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer had a very shiny nose, yadda yadda yadda, he went down in history.”

Coca-Cola’s Santa Cans!

We take them for granted today, but I remember when Santa-themed Coke cans were a Very Big Deal. (And since Coca-Cola is largely responsible for how we visualize Santa Claus, this was a natural pairing!)

I remember lining the empties along my bedroom windowsill, turning trash into Christmas decorations and being so damn proud of it.

Of course, as nice as the cans were, they fell short of Coca-Cola’s #1 contribution to the holiday season: GLASS SODA BOTTLES! I know they’re out on a permanent basis now, but when I was a kid, you could only get Coke in GLASS BOTTLES during Christmastime. They were small, they were green, and they made the most wonderfully alien noises when we yanked our suction-stuck upper lips from their glass mouths.

In this commercial, an understandably exhausted Santa Claus takes a break from delivering presents to grab soda from a gas station. I guess the 40 million glasses of milk just didn’t cut it.

Christmas Vacation Movie Promo!

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation performed well in theaters, but since so much of its reputation was earned later, it’s easy to forget that it was a real actual movie that people went to see at real actual theaters. It somehow feels more like it’s always belonged to television.

Because of that, it’s kinda weird to see a promo for the movie’s theatrical release. With its complete lack of Uncle Louis and Aunt Bethany, it did the film little justice. Still worth a view, if only for the ending screen, where the movie logo gets attacked by Force lightning.

Caroling with Fruit of the Loom!

Prescient in its irreverence, this Fruit of the Loom commercial would’ve worked even better in today’s world, where things like giant fruit singing Christmas carols about underwear go viral with ease.

While I’ve been familiar with these spokesfruit for as long as I can remember, this is the first time I’ve ever really investigated them. The apple guy and the two grape guys are easily identifiable, but what about that fourth guy? What fruit is he supposed to be? Is he one of those weird melons that turn up in the supermarket once and then never appear again? IS HE A KIWANO?

Never mind, I just looked it up. He’s supposed to be a pile of leaves. Okay. Now that I know that, it’s pretty obvious.

E.T. on VHS!

Whoa, this was a major production! A special promotion by Pepsi allowed E.T. fans to buy the videocassette for a “mere” 25 bucks, but the real story was in how much money they spent to tell us about that. A totally custom shoot with a “new Elliott” and even some new scenes with E.T.! Granted, they may have yanked E.T.’s closeups from the movie, but this was still very impressive!

(Impressive and sensible, because despite E.T.’s 1982 theatrical release, it wasn’t available on video until 1988, mere weeks before this commercial started running. The promo budget was well worth it, because those tapes made a FORTUNE.)

Of course, the big budget scenes have nothing on the unrelated final shot, where two kids ignore a thousand bucks’ worth of presents to watch E.T. on video. (And drink Pepsi at 8AM, because kids can get away with anything on Christmas morning.)

Thanks for reading/watching! Goodnight.