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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Those good old drive-in commercials

When I was a kid going to the drive-in, the standard fare consisted of three feature attractions. Between each film, however, they'd run about 10 minutes of advertisements to induce patrons to hit the concession stand—a bright, shining building in the middle of the lot where a world of flavor sensations awaited.

Actually flavor sensations may be candy-coating it. As an experienced concession stand employee, I can tell you the fare consisted of shriveled, re-bunned hot dogs, re-grilled burgers and frozen pizza. At least the popcorn, cooked in a bright orange grease-like substance, was made fresh daily.

I guess my interest in sales and marketing started really early, because as much as I enjoyed the whole experience of going to the "outdoor movies," these commercial breaks were my favorite part of the evening. Even those of you who didn't have the privilege of experiencing an evening of movies under the stars are familiar with the countdown clock and dancing hot dogs, but you could also see ads for local businesses, public service announcements, inspirational messages and more.

Here are some of my favorites:

1. A Freudian Dream. What exactly are they trying to sell here?

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2. Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Check out this bizarre spot with the creepy, sullen kids at the bottom of the screen. Even with the offer of ice cream bars, they still glare at each other angrily. The mom's winking freaks me out. And how come the dad gets a professional announcer's voice?

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3. Damn Daylight Savings. It prevents you from going to church.

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4. Have a Pepsi and a Freak-Out. The "love generation" spread its tentacles into the advertising world in the '60s, as exemplified by this prime slice of acidhead commercialism. Just imagine the young people at the local drive-in enjoying their first encounter with controlled substances, only to be hit in the face with this:

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5. Take Me to the Cleaners. Did you know that your Cousin Elizabeth, Aunt Hilda and Grandma all worked at the local dry cleaner? You're guaranteed to wince when you see the little kid in the opening segment energetically scraping all the enamel off his teeth.

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6. White People with Little Red Wieners. Enjoy this cavalcade of Caucasians and artery-clogging food. Mmm-mmm!

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7. Mosquitoes Committing Suicide. This "insect repellent" didn't really seem to work at all—just filled the car up with incense-scented smoke.

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Thank you for patronizing Weird Movie Village this evening. If you should happen to accidentally tear your speaker off the post when leaving, don't be embarrassed. Simply turn it in at the concession stand.

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