For a short period of time during the mid-1950s, the Disney company allowed corporations to use its characters to sell products. There’s some interesting history behind this, and if you’re interested in learning more, I’d recommend this two-part series by historian Jim Korkis (part one, part two).
Among the companies that took advantage of this opportunity was American Motors, maker of Nash and Hudson cars. (Interesting sidenote: the company’s president at the time was Mitt Romney’s father, George W. Romney.) Yesterday, YouTube user ZarakPhoto uploaded a fine collection of the American Motors spots featuring Jiminy Cricket and Mickey Mouse. I’ve seen other prints of these spots, but these are easily the crispest versions I’ve encountered and worth a look even if you’ve seen them before. [UPDATE: It has been pointed out that the prints of these commercials were ripped from the Mid-Century Modern Animation, Vol. 1 DVD.]
Here’s an upload from another YouTuber with a lower-quality version of one of the other spots featuring Song of the South characters:
The commercials were designed by Tom Oreb, who in my humble opinion, was the most versatile and skilled designer during the Golden Age of Hollywood animation. Oreb’s assistant art director and layout artist on these spots was Vic Haboush, who was a dear friend and mentor to me.
This is Oreb’s model sheet of the “commercial” Mickey Mouse, which Vic and I discovered in his personal collection many years ago. Click for a larger version: