Our Favorite Marketing Campaigns From Childhood

Posted by Jack Wilkinson on Apr 17, 2019 8:00:00 AM
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The other day we here at Sharp Wilkinson were waxing reminiscent about some of our favorite ad campaigns from days gone by. This led to looking up old ads on YouTube and consequently, quite a few laughs. We thought we might cut all of you in on the fun. Here are some of our favorite ad campaigns from our childhood.


I don't know about you, but when I was a kid and had just pulled off a smooth move, or triumphed against improbable odds I would hold up a fake tube of breath mints and say "Mentos, the Freshmaker". I loved those commercials and would wait with anticipation to see what feat of smoothness they would pull off next. This was a great campaign, its consistency made it truly memorable, and the interesting way they would solve life's daily problems kept the viewer engaged. In America Mentos had been around since the 1970’s, but by the 90’s the company suffered from falling sales. The company decided to make some drastic changes, they reduced the number of flavors they produced from 50 to 2 and invested heavily in a marketing campaign. They hired the German ad agency Pahnke & Partners to create their advertising. In the beginning the commercials were not received well, even being voted one of the worst ad campaigns by USA Today in 1994. However the cleverness and cheesiness made the campaign a success that wove it’s way deep into 90’s culture.






Spuds MacKenzie was the dog every teenage boy wanted to be. You'd find Spuds skateboarding, pole vaulting, and popping out of submarines with more girlfriends than you could count and an endless supply of beer for the party that never seemed to end. And, like all good ad campaigns, Spuds had its share of controversy. For starters, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond went after Anheuser-Busch for using a cute, lovable dog to get children interested in drinking Bud Light. (Ironically, one of the best spots was a "Know When to Say When" spot that featured Spuds ripping up some slide guitar at a ski lodge.) If that weren't enough, Spuds, this Canine Don Juan who could captivate and enthrall women with his epic ability to take the party to the next level was actually……wait for it……. a female named Honey Tree Evil Eye -- or Evie, for short.

By the end of '89, the sun had set on the Spuds MacKenzie ad campaign. AB's claim was that the character of Spuds had begun to overshadow the product. Who knows? Maybe they were right. But in an era where organizations clamor to build iconic, likable characters that they can insert into brand stories, maybe there a few things we can learn from a bull terrier who could party her doggy butt off. 





The "Hey Mikey" Life cereal commercial from the 70's is up there as one of my favorites.  While I was not a fan of that cereal (because it didn't contain a bunch of sugar) I do remember it being on TV all the time.  If you haven't seen the commercial, it has 3 brothers sitting at a table eating breakfast and the two older brothers are pushing a bowl of Life cereal back and forth, neither one wanting to try it.  They decide to give the cereal to their little brother who tries the cereal and keeps eating.  One of the brother spouts "He likes it! Hey Mikey!"  My entire life growing up, my good friend and next door neighbor was Mike Naughton.  Mike was not only a good friend, but a really good sport.  Our group of neighborhood friends were always hanging out and this commercial gave us the prime opportunity every boy looks for to embarrass and razz their friends, and that we did to Mike..relentlessly.  The Little Mikey commercial first appeared in 1972 and remained in regular rotation for well over a decade, ending up as one of the longest continuously running commercial campaigns ever aired.




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