The Sage Connection

Remembering the heyday of television commercials

This is the commercial that makes Kathleen Anderson laugh. And a one-time freebie for GEICO. (Hey GEICO, wanna sponsor The JOLT?)
Courtesy of GEICO via YouTube

Do you watch commercials?  Or do you, like my son-in-law, fast forward through them?

I watch them. I enjoy some of them and several of them make me laugh out loud. Furthermore, more than one of them, in my humble opinion, is better than the show that follows them.

One of my current favorites is the tiny gecko floating on a sailboat, on a pond, begging to come ashore, while a young child tries valiantly to work the remote control that has the gecko spinning in circles.

In another life I worked in public relations and became acquainted with one of the lesser-known award shows, the Clio Awards for commercials.

Founded in 1959, the Clio Awards (also simply known as the Clios) is an annual program that recognizes innovation and creative excellence in advertising, design, and communication, as judged by an international panel of advertising professionals. Time magazine, in 1991, described the event as the world's most recognizable international advertising award.

Back in the day, in the PR world, the commercials were the real reason to watch the Superbowl and the cost to run one 30-second spot was over the moon. Budweiser’s Clydesdale’s always tugged at the heart and Apple Computer was the technical wizard we had to watch.

Just for fun I recently looked up the Clio website and found I had not seen a single winner. Except for Pepsi and Michelob, I didn’t even recognize the company names, much less the PR firms or the products they were promoting.

When I was working in this field, it was a simpler time.

My all-time favorite appeared years ago. Band-Aid ran a series of spots with children holding up one finger with a bandage attached, while singing “I am stuck on Band-Aid and Band-Aid’s stuck on me”.

The kids were all adorable and filmed in different settings, but there was one version of the commercial that only ran in Europe. The same spot ran in America with one difference. This particular child was singing in the bathtub and in the European version, after the song ended, bubbles arose in the bath water behind his little derriere. The look on his face was hilarious – rarely have I ever seen a child that proud.

The European version of this ad had me on the floor, and when I asked why it only ran overseas, I was told it was considered too risqué for American audiences. Really? Well, it was the 80’s.

There used to be Muppets in ads and puppies, kittens and adorable kids. Who would ever forget Mikey, the kid who would eat anything?

Today most of the ads I see are for personal hygiene items, adult diaper products and toilet paper. I often have to wonder, who doesn’t buy toilet paper?

“Mature” celebrities still show us how they maintain their smooth wrinkle-free skin or why seniors should stick to flip phones with large numbers and panic buttons.

But every so often, a gecko slips in… Or a senior citizen dancing sings about his mattress farm and the fun, laughter and memories come back again.

Kathleen Anderson writes this column each week from her home in Olympia.  Contact her at or post your comment below. 


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