Amazing Archive of Vintage TV Commercials

The commercial above comes from Duke University’s AdViews digital archive which is the most significant collection of vintage TV commercials that I’ve ever seen available online. The commercials, which were digitized only last year, were either created or collected by the ad agency Benton & Bowles and its successor, D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B). I’ve browsed through only a portion of the offerings, and have already seen dozens of pristine copies of animated TV commercials that I’d never seen before. For example, there’s this collection of Linus the Lionhearted commercials, but even better is this proto-Linus commercial that dates back to when he was a mascot for a cereal called Heart of Oats. Also notable is this seven-minute US Air Force Reserve short directed by Gerard Baldwin at Hanna-Barbera with backgrounds by Walt Peregoy.

My favorite commercial of the moment? This bizarre Fleischer-esque piece advertising hot cereal. They sure don’t make loopy neck animation like that anymore:


  • http://www.jjsedelmaier.com J.J. Sedelmaier

    Fan-friggin-tastic !!!

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    Dang it. iTunes required. Last time I installed that it sprayed the registry with hundreds of mystery entries and messed up a bunch of stuff. Why would they post this at iTunes if downloads are free? Archive.org is a better venue, no software install required…
    http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=collection%3Aprelinger%20AND%20tv%20commercial

  • Mike Fontanelli

    Haha! Genius H-O commercial!! (BTW, Jack has no pants on in that last scene, sliding down the beanstalk…)

  • Doug Drown

    Who on earth MADE this commercial??

  • http://www.segaltoons.com Steve Segal

    Great stuff! Thanks for the link. The oatmeal commercial looks like it could be Van Beuren, definitely similar to Fleischer, but not as controlled.

    FP: I’m able to play on my Vista PC without iTunes.

  • amid

    Steve: The narration and pacing of the oatmeal commercial definitely feels like a TV commercial, and a search for the box design confirms a late-Forties to mid-Fifties production date. It’s safe to guess that somebody was mimicking the style, not a Van Beuren work.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    Re:
    –I’m able to play on my Vista PC without iTunes–

    I click a commercial’s picture, and I get an error page that says:
    We are unable to find iTunes on your computer.
    If iTunes doesn’t open, click the iTunes application icon in your Dock or Windows Task Bar.

    I have Quicktime alternative installed but I guess that’s not enough. Is there an iTunes alternative?

  • http://www.classicparamountcartoons.blogspot.com ParamountCartoons

    Forget Duke University. Ira H. Gallen’s family of YouTube accounts had a whole bunch of commericiials. I betcha he had more.

    In fact, he has the original Paramount version of a certian farm cartoon. It’s just misplaced in his collection of film reels.

  • uncle wayne

    Ahhhhhhhhhhh….the TRUE absolute joys of CB. Alllll the ground-breaking goss of recent, animation winners galore….and JUICY tidbits from yester-decade[s]! Priceless!!

    I think the Giant (& the boy) are ____!!!!!!

  • David Breneman

    Yeah, the two linked to this article play just fine, but if you go to their web site it’s “iTunes required”. ITUNES?! This raises the eternal quandry: Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs is like arguing “Hitler or Stalin – which is your favorite dictator?”

  • top cat james

    That Hot Shot commercial reminds me a lot of the “A Date With Jet Screamer” ep from THE JETSONS.

    That’s a rather, uh… homoerotic oatmeal ad.

  • Chris Barry

    Love hearing Dan Ingram’s voice on the Hot Shots ad. Memories!

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    The “Hot Shot” commercial could have played on “The Electric Company.”

    “You don’t want to eat that boy!” is officially the most disturbing line I’ve ever heard in a piece of animation.

  • http://thadkomorowski.com Thad

    Jesus, the animation in that H-O commercial was terrible. It was either animated in a non-English speaking country or by somebody who had no concept of lip-sync.

  • Keith Paynter

    “Bug Music!”

    “I said ‘yeah, yeah yeah!’
    He said, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah!’
    She said, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah!’
    Yeah-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h!!!!!”

  • Keith Paynter

    Beech-Nut has definitely moved on to more grown up tastes, since the brand name sells chewing tobacco, but you won’t see that on their website…

  • Jeffers

    “Cook the boy, woman! Right now!” The sexist gender stereotypes that were so prevalent in these old cartoons are really funny now. And you are correct about Jack not wearing any pants Mike, lol.

    That nose punch is beyond weird.

  • http://bruandboegie.co.za Mike

    Them wobbly necks are pretty awesome.

  • David Rylander

    This collection requires Itunes which effectively locks out people who use Linux or has other reasons for not using Apple software.

    I think it’s very strange that a university site that makes material available “for use in research, teaching, and private study” requires a highly proprietary piece of software for viewing the material.
    Give with one hand and slap with the other.

  • http://cartoonsonfilm.com Tom Stathes

    Thad, that sentiment is why Van Beuren cartoons don’t like you.

  • Keith Paynter

    Amen, Tom…Thad, are you not a fan of Popeye or Betty Boop, if that’s the case…?

    Smiles everyone, smiles! :)

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    When I have time (if ever) I’ll back up the registry with ERUNT, install iTunes, and grab the whole collection. Then I’ll restore the pre-Apple registry with ERDNT and wipe iTunes. But that will require a larger amount of contiguous time than I’ll have for a while…

  • http://cartoonsonfilm.com Tom Stathes

    Well, he is, because there’s some prestige tied to Fleischer. Oh, and because the cartoons are mostly “good”.

  • http://thadkomorowski.com Thad

    Why the f— is there a discourse on my likes and dislikes here?

  • http://cartoonsonfilm.com Tom Stathes

    Thad’s likes and dislikes are of interest to many people. It’s about time they be objectively critiqued.

  • http://aalong64.blogspot.com Aaron Long

    Oh man, that cereal commercial’s got some of the funniest animation I’ve ever seen. Amazing.

  • http://ramapithblog.blogspot.com David Gerstein

    Guys, can we call a truce? Please?

  • Gerard de Souza

    This is great! I have come across animatics for Post cereals too on their site so far. One is casper hawking Post Ghosties and another Beep Beep cereal with The Road Runner. Thought you may be interested, Jerry, just in case you haven’t come across them.

  • Jeff

    Chalk up one more complaint about iTunes.

    It probably seems redundant, but if the Duke University archive admins ever read this, I’d like them to see that using iTunes for this type of thing is extremely frustrating. Installing that software on your PC forcibly changes a lot of settings and is very very undesirable, so I won’t do it (and alternative OSes have problems, as has been shown in these threads).

    Youtube or the Internet Archive are great alternatives that don’t require proprietary, intrusive software.

  • Dave O.

    These made my day. Great finds!

  • Peter

    I too don’t have itunes. That’s for mac people, it wrecks PCs. The two youtube commercials are awesome though!!!

  • Steve Gattuso

    It’s very strange to see such a proprietary format imposed on what’s intended as a public archive. I’m sure some enterprising soul will rip, er, capture this for use in less constrictive formats.

  • http://www.mistertoast.com Dan Goodsell

    “One is casper hawking Post Ghosties and another Beep Beep cereal with The Road Runner.”

    Those were both test concepts that were never mass produced. Casper did end up on Sugar Chex and Super Sugar Chex.

    My favorites from this collection were the 3D Stop Motion Beechnut Gum Animal commercials. You have to dig a bit to get to them, but they are fantastic.

  • John A

    My favorites were the Kellogg’s Cocoa Crispies commercials featuring stop motion cave man Ogg. In one commercial he introduced his cavewife Kell, as in “Kell and Ogg’s Cocoa Crispies”.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    A representative of the collection sent a bit of good news in response to my iTunes complaint:

    –Our AdViews collection is indeed currently only available through iTunes, which unfortunately presents many limitations for access. We’re aware of the problems and are investigating ways to make the collection more broadly available over the web. We are currently completing the digitization and description of the last batch of videos from the collection. When that is complete, we plan to make the videos available outside of iTunes.

  • http://www.voices.com Whitny

    Awesome collection. I love old commercials and being able to see how they’ve changed. Thanks for posting!!!