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DEVO shills for Pioneer’s futuristic new LaserDisc format, 1984
02:16 pm



The early 1980s were such a heady time for personal entertainment technology. The Sony Walkman was introduced in the U.S. in 1980, the same time that VHS and Betamax found themselves embroiled in the canonical “format war” to determine control of the videotape market. Meanwhile, CDs were giving a geneation of Boomers a reason to buy Electric Ladyland a second time, and laserdiscs represented that slightly unwieldy and expensive format that was a “cut above” to signal the affluence and distinction of the serious cinephile.

Pioneer Electronics, having purchased a majority stake in the format, had ample reason to push the devices as well as the brand name LaserDisc. To that end, in 1984 Pioneer hired Ohio’s staunchest believers in “devolution,” known to all of course as DEVO, to appear in a 12-minute in-store demo disc touting the innumerable advantages of the laserdisc format.

The band appears wearing tuxedos in a variety of colors and matching fright wigs, each creatively adorned with a single large googly eye and painted eyebrows guaranteeing a quizzical expression. (Surely DEVO is in the Fright Wig Hall of Fame by now?) After introducing themselves, DEVO quickly cedes the floor to Ray Charles, who testifies that the format certainly sounds good and (so he is assured) looks good as well. Blind pianist George Shearing joins him to double down on the gag.

Ray Charles, video entertainment expert
It’s a little depressing to hear, after Ray Charles delivers his spiel, Mark Mothersbaugh (of all people) intone the following copy: “Was that just advertising hype? Listen a minute, and let your own ears decide.” Sigh. Let’s hope they were all paid well for this.

The rest of the video consists mainly of clips pimping Pioneer’s laserdisc catalogue of that moment, including WarGames, Tootsie, Flashdance, Sophie’s Choice, The Wiz, Carlin at Carnegie, and so forth. Pioneer was proud of laserdisc’s improved audio playback, so popular music artists were a big part of the pitch—it’s a little funny to hear DEVO touting the virtues of Duran Duran and Sheena Easton, but am I imagining it or does Mothersbaugh give the phrase “the heat of Fleetwood Mac” extra ironic oomph?

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Cheesy Rider: Dennis Hopper sells Fords with a little help from his anti-establishment cred

“We blew it” said Peter Fonda’s Captain America to his sidekick Billy—Dennis Hopper—at the end of Easy Rider. He was right. The freedom the counterculture movement touted as some kind of utopian future in the 1960s was just an ad man’s gimmick by the 1990s. In this case quite literally when director/writer/co-star of Easy Rider Dennis Hopper popped up on British TV selling Ford cars. The concept of personal liberty and the open road was repackaged not as the living of a life but as the purchasing of a lifestyle.

Everyone’s gotta make a buck to survive—even Dennis Hopper—and this is a neat ad in which nineties Hopper meets his Easy Rider sixties doppelgänger. But while Hopper was clearly happy to be making a buck selling the latest, grooviest Ford Cougar—he was also in effect saying: “I’m happy to sell out any anti-establishment, free-living, counterculture message my much-loved cult movie may once have contained.”

I have always thought Easy Rider was an archly-conservative movie. It didn’t offer any credible alternative to the society Billy and Captain America wanted out of. Instead, they chased after fast money and cheap drugs and met an early death.

And Hopper’s nineties revisit? It’s well-made and cool, but on a superficial level—which kinda sums up that entire decade, right?

Bonus making of the ad video with Dennis Hopper, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Utterly bizarre commercial for an all-crying 900 phone line
08:59 am


900 numbers

There’s a certain unadorned beauty to the voiceover pitch in this commercial for a deeply puzzling 900 number consisting solely of shots of people crying uncontrollably on the phone. It probably dates from the late 1980s or the early 1990s:

What makes people all over America break down and cry like this?

Call 1-900-740-3500 and hear it for yourself.

Two dollars per minute.

If you’re under 18, ask your parents before you call.


I think it was a “sob story” phone line, a number you could call if you wanted to hear sad stories. Are there people who are kind of addicted to sad stories, to the point that they would spend dozens of dollars for an hour-long session, say?

We have obtained the expert testimony of “Paul d” on a YouTube comment that “when I was younger I called this, it is just prerecorded calls where people describe sad stories, when I called a girl was talking about how her husband died in a motorcycle accident, me and my friends were like this is stupid lol.”

Anybody remember calling this number?

Also, where did they get the sad sob stories from?

Here’s the commercial. There’s an identical commercial with a different number, 1-900-9099-CRY, which you can see here.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Bizarre Japanese TV commercial for dog-shaped speakers starring Quentin Tarantino
01:03 pm


Quentin Tarantino

Americans have long found Japanese advertisements peculiar—the “Mr. Sparkle” commercial parody from The Simpsons (“I am disrespectful to dirt!”) is certainly an excellent representation of why we regard them as so strange.

In this 2009 commercial for a Japanese telecom named SoftBank, renowned director and would-be actor Quentin Tarantino makes his best pitch at being the Mickey Rooney of his generation (watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s if you don’t get that reference) when he dons a kimono, waves his hands around martial arts-style, and says a few words in Japanese.

The product in the commercial is a cell phone speaker shaped like a dog, which is SoftBank’s mascot. The dog is actually the patriarch of the family featured in SoftBank’s commercials. They are known as “the White Family,” and as David Griner observes, the family consists of “the most popular recurring commercial characters in Japan” in which “the father is a human in a dog’s body ... the son is a black American, and their maid is an alien incarnation of Tommy Lee Jones.” Hooo-kay! But then again, try summarizing any Geico commercial and you end up in Weird Town pretty fast.

See it for yourself, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Mini-documentary on Ry Cooder made by Van Dyke Parks, 1970
04:39 pm


Van Dyke Parks
Ry Cooder

Here’s an interesting find. It’s a 14-minute promotional documentary that Warner Bros. put together for the 1970 debut album by a young performer named Ry Cooder, who was 23 at the time. What sets the movie apart is that the wonderfully eclectic singer and songwriter Van Dyke Parks, who had already released his first solo album Song Cycle, played on Tim Buckley’s first album, and contributed his considerable labors on Brian Wilson’s legendary Smile project (which eventually reached the public to great acclaim in 2004), was (quite strangely) at this time an employee of Warner Bros. tasked with overseeing the creation of promotional videos for Warner Bros. artists.

If anything, Cooder’s resume was even more impressive than Parks’ at this point, having already played on albums by the Rolling Stones and Captain Beefheart and Randy Newman. On this album Cooder actually covered Newman’s “My Old Kentucky Home (Turpentine & Dandelion Wine).”

A universally revered master of the slide guitar, Cooder would later become renowned for his work on movies starting in the 1980s, among them his collaborations with Wim Wenders, most notably the Oscar-nominated documentary Buena Vista Social Club.

Van Dyke Parks, enjoying a beverage
In 2013 Keith Connolly interviewed Van Dyke Parks in the pages of BOMB, during which the two men had following exchange about his stint at Warner Bros.:

Connolly: Let’s talk about Warner Bros in the ‘70s. Around ’71 there was an AV department you were put in charge of?

Parks: Yeah, but I wasn’t put anywhere at Warner Bros. I insinuated myself into that, I made up that audio/visual services. As a matter of fact it was a decision, a career decision, you might say, to put the audio before the visual.

Connolly: Right.

Parks: I had a department with five employees. We made 13 promotional films (and they were films), which were by nature documentary, so that they could be rented or bought by any accredited music school. They were instructive, they were entertaining, they were promotional—but they could create an income stream for musicians who were hard-pushed into tours that required drugs to sustain them.

We would spend $18,500 in the production of one film. Generally, they would be 10 minutes in length or song length. The one exception was for a Steel Band documentary, which was a 40-minute documentary about a trip through the South, a bunch of black men going through the American South. That was a fascinating, gripping adventure which I felt deserved to be presented. But having recovered the production expenses—that is, having broken even—I provided that each artist would get 25% of the net profits of the rentals or sales. It was going to be a very promising market for the artist. Warners soon tired of what I thought was a fair equation of participation in creative profits, and basically isolated me to the extent that I left.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Gary Numan’s 1978 blue jeans commercial featuring vampire robot punks
02:32 pm


Gary Numan
Lee Cooper

In 1978 Gary Numan, then still with Tubeway Army, did the vocals for a commercial for the English jeans manufacturer Lee Cooper. The commercial featured some hyper-fashionable Londoners with pasty skin and glowing green and blue eyes. In the commercial, Numan sings a song called “Don’t Be a Dummy” with the following lyrics:

Don’t be a dummy!
Move like honey
Don’t be a dummy!
Use your money
Come out proud, don’t hide in the crowd
Find the gear of love to grind
Find the gear to suit you
Mine’ll suit ya!
Lee Cooper!
Lee Cooper!

Interestingly, according to an article by Nick Robertshaw that appeared in Billboard in October 1978, music executives pushed hard for Numan to release the song as a single, but he wouldn’t do it:
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The UnCola: 7Up and the most psychedelic, LSD-friendly ad campaign of all time
11:42 am



John Alcorn’s “Uncanny in Cans” billboard seems to reference “the girl with kaleidoscope eyes” from the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
7up has existed as a drink since 1929, but it wasn’t until 1936 that it was given the name 7Up. From the mid-1930s to the early 1950s, the advertising slogan for the drink was “You Like It, It Likes You.” In its incredible directness, simplicity, and dishonesty, it ranks as my favorite advertising slogan of all time.

“You Like It, It Likes You.” Oh, does it now? 1947 advertisement for 7Up
In 1967 ad execs at J. Walter Thompson Company in Chicago pitched a radical repositioning of 7Up as a way of reviving dormant sales of the drink—the idea was to capture the new hippie market for 7Up. The new nickname for the drink was to be “The Uncola” and if you’re older than about 50, you’ll have no trouble remembering that name and possibly a memorable series of TV spots starring Geoffrey Holder.

The Uncola campaign stretched from 1969 to 1975, and it used a wide variety of hyper-colorful, psychedelic posters that reminded many people of Peter Max, even though the images used in the campaign were not done by him. (Max did submit images to J. Walter Thompson, but his designs were not used.)

The Uncola campaign was perhaps advertising’s most adventurous foray into truly psychedelic imagery, even to the point of appearing to endorse LSD use as an activity fit for 7Up-consuming adults.

Much more after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Psychedelic Alpha-Bits TV commercials of the early 70s
09:25 am


Jackson 5

If you weren’t quite old enough to roll up for the Magical Mystery Tour, the Enchanted Flying Boat was also hoping to take you away. In the early 1970s the D’Arcy-MacManus agency created a series of wild, psychedelic television commercials for Post Alpha-Bits where a rag-tag gang of kids decked out in kaleidoscopic hippie gear climb aboard a Pufnstuf-style sailboat in the sky. The quick, trippy editing style and bizarre off-beat humor subtlety (or not so subtlety) hint that there might by more than just alphabet-shaped oats in your breakfast.

The hippie kids (who include a very young Todd Bridges) meet some strange adults on their voyage including a cowboy with a talking horse, a construction worker (played by veteran actor Aldo Ray), a caveman, and an “old timer” panning for gold with his donkey. They subject every authority figure to ridicule by stumping them with a deliberately confusing question followed by their exciting message: eating Post Alpha-Bits makes you smarter. The “I love you Alpha-Bits wherever I go” jingle plays as the kids sail back off into the horizon.

One of the TV spots from 1972 starred The Jackson 5 (Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and yes, even Michael) at the height of their popularity; soaring high in the sky singing their own recorded funky version of the Alpha-Bits jingle. A lucky few collected the limited edition run of the cereal which featured a one-sided, five track flex-disc released in conjunction with Motown Records that had to be cut out from the back of the box.

By the late 1970s combining psychedelic drug culture with children’s programming had become a bit of a phenomenon. Sid and Marty Krofft had almost a dozen shows under their belt, the “McDonaldland” characters were popular in restaurants all across the country, and 1977’s The New Mickey Mouse Club revival (which also featured a trippy flying boat!) was a far-out, technicolor drenched version of its predecessor. Any family who still had a black & white television was definitely missing out.

More after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
Vintage photos of space-age concept cars paired with hot chicks from the 60s and 70s
10:05 am


concept cars
car show models

Porsche Tapiro concept car, 1970.
Since let’s just say forever, pretty girls have been used to sell everything because if anything is true in this world it is that sex can sell absolutely anything.

If you’ve ever been to a car show or even seen images of car shows from the past (or present) then you know that having an attractive girl posing alongside the latest and greatest automobile at these kinds of events is as common as seeing a kid stuffing his face with a hot dog at a baseball game. Sometime in the late 1970s a woman named Margery Krevsky (who was at the time an employee of a large department store in Detroit whose many responsibilities included booking models for fashion shows across the country) got an idea after visiting the famed Detroit Auto Show for the first time.

After visiting the show Krevsky began working on her concept that the glamorous girls standing next to the cars possessed the untapped potential to engage in “shop talk” with potential customers. Krevsky formed her company Productions Plus - The Talent Shop which to date has employed nearly 500 well-versed, attractive “product specialists” (including a fair number of attractive, automobile savvy men) that work with car clients all over the world at shows. The evolution of the car model was detailed in a book by Krevsky from 2008, Sirens of Chrome: The Enduring Allure of Auto Show Models

Now that I’ve given you your daily Dangerous Minds history lesson, let’s move on to the subject of this post—hot chicks pictured with some of the slickest concept cars from the 60s and 70s. From a 1971 Lamborghini Countach to the 1968 Alfa Romeo Carabo, I’ve got tons of images of crazy looking concept cars and sexy models in various stages of attire such as animal print bikinis and gogo boots that should get your engine running.

If it doesn’t, you might want to get that checked out… 

The one-off 1969 Fiat Abarth 2000 Scorpio concept car built by Italian car design firm Pininfarina.

Mercedes Benz ‘C111’ 1969.
More space age hotrods and the ladies who love them, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The USSR’s first TV ad was a surreal stop-motion musical about corn

Right this moment, I really wish I spoke Russian, the better to understand this 1964 commercial that turned up yesterday on the wonderful Soviet Visuals Twitter feed.

Perhaps calling it a “commercial” is a misnomer—Soviet agriculture was mostly organized into a system of collective and state farms, so commerce wasn’t the objective here—there was no brand competition. The context for this ad was a big push for corn that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev had undertaken in the mid-‘50s. Corn was never important to Soviet agriculture, but Khrushchev valued it as livestock feed.

”Corn—The Source of Abundance,” 1959

Corn’s failure in the USSR was one of the factors that weakened Khrushchev (the Cuban Missile Crisis was a much bigger one) and allowed for the more conservative Leonid Brezhnev to successfully conspire to depose him, but while that’s interesting, it’s not singing corn interesting. This ad is great fun, and about the only thing that could have improved it would be if it had starred Eduard “Mr. Trololo” Khil. It features animated ears and cans of corn, seemingly petitioning a singing chef to cook them. We’re then treated to a panoply of corn dishes. It’s supposed to demonstrate the grain’s culinary versatility, but every meal looks sufficiently unappetizing to have been culled from The Gallery of Regrettable Food. And I particularly love the overwrought fake smile on the woman near the ad’s end who’s eating corn on the cob as though for the first time ever in her life.

Many thanks to Beth P for this find!

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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