Welcome to Dino Drac’s hot new series: OLD NEWS!
In this recurring feature, I’ll be digging up ancient newspaper ads and articles, mostly from the ‘80s and ‘90s. It doesn’t sound so interesting when I put it that way, but trust me, some this stuff will punch you in the heart.
After all, with virtually all video-related media being so easily accessible these days, it takes a much deeper dig to make us nostalgia nuts say “wow.”
When you see some of these clippings, I think you’ll say “wow.”
Each edition of OLD NEWS will tackle one specific topic. Since I’m starting this series during the Halloween Countdown, it seemed appropriate to kick things off with Ghostbusters!
Scroll forth, and be merry. I’ve divided this edition’s clippings into sections, which cover everything from Kenner’s Real Ghostbusters toys to Hi-C Ecto Cooler!
ECTO COOLER ADS:
As an extremist Ecto Cooler historian, finding this trio of 1990s supermarket ads was a complete thrill. (And check out those prices! 69 cents for a 46 ounce can?!)
While many consider Ecto Cooler an ‘80s thing, it was actually much more a ‘90s thing, surviving nearly that whole decade with an evolving assortment of containers and label designs. (As I recall, the final version of Ecto Cooler didn’t even have Slimer on the label!)
Bonus points to the last two ads, which used adorable Ecto Cooler sketches instead of product photos. (Presumably because ink-draining product photos so often looked like garbage in black-and-white!)
ACTION FIGURE ADS:
(Pay Less Stores, November 1987)
(Toys “R” Us, October 1987)
(Kmart, September 1988)
(Pay Less Stores, August 1988)
(Toys “R” Us, January 1991)
There’s a lot to love in the above section, which features all sorts of toys from Kenner’s Real Ghostbusters collection. Given that line’s bulletproof reputation and the fact that so many of us still have the toys, it’s easy to forget that most of them are now more than 25 years old!
Much of what you’ll see up there is awesome in self-explanatory ways, but I did want to make two points:
1) The second ad was part of Toys “R” Us’s Halloween push in 1987. I just love that they snuck RGB toys into the mix, correctly estimating that kids would accept them as Halloween-appropriate. (In fact, many RGB toys — like the advertised Ghost Zapper — ended up as part of our costumes!)
2) The last ad, again from TRU, is fantastic both for its now-enviably low prices and for the fact that someone actually drew the action figures. (PS: You may remember that wolf dude from an old edition of Five Random Action Figures!)
Judging by the many Ghostbusters movie ads I found, the film spent a very long time in theaters, and was commonly dusted off even after it hit videocassette.
It was a hit from the start, of course, but it’s still a treat to see ads from a time when it hadn’t yet become a global phenomenon and an outright franchise. The two shown above are just local theater ads not directly affiliated with the movie, which explains the charmingly crude Ghostbusters logo tacked onto the second one!
Also: While I obviously knew that both films debuted in 1984, I don’t think I was consciously aware that Ghostbusters and Gremlins played at the same time. Wow. Heaven!
When Ghostbusters hit video, it was an incredible success on the rental market. Actually, it was so successful that many video stores made sure to explicitly mention the film in their ads!
That first ad just kills me. That store was actually NAMED after Ghostbusters! Between the promise of a huge Halloween selection and the clumsy “Hollywood lights” border, it makes me pine for so many obsolete things.
The second ad mentions that people could rent VCRs for $10 a week. Yup, this was really a thing. At the time, far from all families had a VCR. (When we got ours, it was event on par with my father buying a new car. No exaggeration.)
Ralston’s Ghostbusters Cereal lasted for many years, always adopting new names and gimmicks to keep up with the most recent GB trends. (You’ll notice that in the three ads shown above, no two boxes are exactly alike.)
The taste of Ralston’s “limited edition” cereals was historically iffy, but whenever they grabbed a big license, they knew how to put it to good use. Ghostbusters Cereal was an absolute must-have, arriving in boxes that looked like 3D movie posters, and always full of bright, thematic marshmallows.
THE SLIMER SUNDAE:
Back in ‘89, Hardee’s scored big with a massive Ghostbusters II promotion, which involved everything from kids’ meals to a big budget television commercial. We didn’t have Hardee’s restaurants around here when I was a kid, and I remember being so pissed that I never got to pull a hamburger out of plastic Ecto-1.
The “cult favorite” of the promotion was the Slimer Sundae — a cup of soft vanilla ice cream topped with gruesomely green, bubble gum flavored “sauce.” In certain circles, the Slimer Sundae is even more revered than Ecto Cooler!
…and here are some miscellaneous bits to wrap things up, including cute fan art a kid sent to his local paper, and an advertisement for the official Ghostbusters soundtrack. (…and also for Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down, because hell, why not?)
Hope this sparked some memories for you! Good ones, I mean!
Stay tuned… there are more editions of OLD NEWS on the way, soon!