Gen X nerds rejoiced yesterday at the news that the 1980s PC brand Commodore is making a comeback. Apparently, Barry Altman, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., entrepreneur, thinks the brand can survive in the iPad age. Altman gave no clues about the marketing (Korey Kay & Partners is doing ad chores), but he might consider using this 1982 ad from Kornhauser & Calene as a blueprint. Here, a pre-Priceline William Shatner is beamed in to hype the "wonder computer of the 1980s" as a viable alternative to Atari (you youngsters might want to Google that name). "Unlike games, it has a real computer keyboard," Shatner says. Best of all, the price was less than $300, a feat that the PC industry still can't match. Another spot took on Apple—not a bad idea in this day and age, either.
The four guys who founded Harley-Davidson (above) look more like bankers than bikers. Albert Goodwill Spaulding, the man whose name graces millions of basketballs, was actually a pro baseball player. And the real Wendy Thomas (below), whose picture used to hang in Wendy's fast-food restaurants, is slightly more demonic-looking than the chain's cartoon version. So many things to glean from Life magazine's feature, "Hi, Rubik! Faces Behind the Brands," which gathers 32 photographs of folks whose names, products, inventions and franchises are now world famous. Chewing-gum titan William Wrigley Jr. is here, looking kind of like W.C. Fields, as are jeweler-to-the-stars Harry Winston, tea baron Sir Thomas Johnstone Lipton and glamour-girl designer Coco Chanel, rocking an awesome hat and pearls. The pics are great—Erno Rubik of the Rubik's Cube is surrounded by the blocks of frustration he unleashed on the world, and Mary Kay Ash of Mary Kay Cosmetics reminds us how fabulous an early-'80s Dallas hairdo could be. Oh, and if you're wondering, in the photo above, that's three Davidsons (from left, brothers William, Walter and Arthur) and one Harley (William S.).
This Valentine's Day, get thee to Target, which beginning on Sunday will be exclusively selling a line of five limited-edition General Mills cereals with retro packaging from the '60s and '80s. The cereals are Lucky Charms, Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Trix. This is the third year of the promotion. The goal is to tap into consumers' desire for nostalgia, which is big nowadays, and particularly so in a tough economy. Check out the packaging for the other four cereals after the jump, with the old boxes on the left and the new ones on the right. You'll notice some interesting differences. On the Lucky Charms box (above), the leprechaun wears a scarf, has rosy cheeks and sits atop a toadstool. (The new box is fungus free.) On the Honey Nut Cheerios box, the bee pours a pot of honey, not a honey wand, over the cereal. (Gotta cut back on the sugar.) And the old Cinnamon Toast Crunch packaging has notebook-paper lines rather than the current swirls. All five retro cereals also contains offers for vintage games and prizes we grew up with in our childhood. How's that for a trip down memory lane?
For all of you who a) are beside yourselves wondering what Apple's Tablet PC is going to look like when it's unveiled tomorrow and b) need reminding that Apple's marketing, particularly when Steve Jobs wasn't at the company, hasn't always been stellar, here's an ad from 1993 hyping the release of the Apple Newton, a high-profile blunder from the company. You'll note that the spirit of the work is much different than the current Apple ads, perhaps because it was created by BBDO rather than Apple's current agency, TBWA. For one thing, it's got a macho voiceover, rather than the quirky, bemused voice work of Jeff Goldblum, which set the tone for the current goofy yet logical "Get a Mac" ads. Among other faults, the ad also lamely shows a man purported to be Sir Isaac Newton asking "Who is Newton?," features unhip older people using the device and touts the digital notepad device as "cool," which is surely the kiss of death. Other ads showed a woman "bordering on hysteria" lying on a coach while her shrink scribbled notes on the device and reporters toting Newtons as they followed a beautiful model around, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal from the time. Ultimately, a convergence of factors, including poor handwriting recognition and relentless mockery in Doonesbury (which was much more of a public influencer in those pre-Web days), did the Newton in, though it appears the advertising didn't help much, either. There are a lot of mysteries around Apple's announcement next week, but one thing's for sure: The ads won't look anything like this.
Folger's is re-airing this classic ad from 1998—one of the old "The best part of wakin' up is Folgers in your cup" spots. Oh, joy. The J.M. Smucker Co., which now owns Folgers, resurrected the spot to commemorate their recent acquisition of the coffee brand, and because this year marks the 25th anniversary of the iconic "Wakin' up" theme. Also, as some have pointed out, it's cheaper to recycle old spots and rake in nostalgia points from gullible thirtysomethings than it is to come up with new stuff. Which is fine for wholesome companies like Folgers. But some companies—Goodyear, for example—might be more reluctant to turn back the clock.
Those who grew up in the New York area in the 1970s and 1980s will no doubt get a nostalgic twinkle upon hearing the news that Crazy Eddie, the guy whose prices are so low he's practically giving it away, is coming back. Thanks to a firm called Magic Investments, the Crazy Eddie consumer-electronics chain is on the comeback trail, with plans to open as many as 50 retail stores next year. It's unclear whether the chain will resurrect its memorable TV ads, which featured actor/DJ Jerry Carroll. The ads gave new meaning to the term "kinetic," as Carroll yelled rapidly at the camera about "crazy" stunts like Christmas in August. At their peak, the ads were even parodied on Saturday Night Live (with Dan Aykroyd playing the crazy pitchman). The ads also seem to have an avid following on YouTube. While Magic's business plan sounds a little shaky, not bringing back those ads in some form would be insane.