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5 Christmas Commercials of the '80s

There's a lot of nostalgia wrapped up in old Christmas TV specials. From Charlie Brown to Emmet Otter, watching these holiday tales on the tube as kids helped amplify the spirit of the season. But often the commercials that played between airings of Frosty The Snowman and How The Grinch Stole Christmas were just as memorable. As we approach December 25th, here's a few random 80s Christmas commercials from my personal VHS collection circa 1986.

Time-Life Music Christmas Collection

What better way to kick off this list than with the classic holiday tunes of yesteryear. Time-Life combined the historical power of 2 old school periodicals to solidify in our collective minds the essence of Americana. Which is to say, they always had a book or music collection to sell on TV. Though I enjoy hearing The Carpenters, Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby crooning about Christmas, what really tickles my nostalgia bone is the blue order screen at the end. 

There were countless products for sale through ads like this in the 80s and they all ended the same way, with yellow font on a blue background giving us the number to call and a voice informing us of the shipping and handling cost. I miss the days when my TV was a purchase portal that provided the promise of future fun to come in the mail.

The Intercept Program

OK, this one ends on a bit of a downer, but is in fact the essence of '80s sentimentalism that we can't help but smirk at in the modern age. The set-up reminds me so much of my own trips from age 3 to 6, sitting on Santa's lap and asking for a Scooby-Doo board game or Teddy Ruxpin. The enthusiasm of the little girl asking for a doll house is so sweet. I'm willing to believe that these kids didn't know they were in a commercial. All except for the girl at the end, with her perfect pouty face accented by the single tear rolling down Santa's face. That was an Oscar worthy performance from here to the North Pole. This kind of schmaltz is how we got messages drilled into our heads in the '80s and I wonder if we can ever return to that kind of sincerity again. 

Local Country Christmas Store

This commercial actually comes from my wife's childhood VHS, taped off of TV in Montana. The fun of this local Christmas store ad is that it represents the simplicity of '80s Christmas expectations with promises of Dolls, tins of cookies, chocolate truffles and old fashioned ornaments. The music box soundtrack playing in the background over shots of overly decorated Christmas trees instantly makes you think of Santa's Workshop. Plus, ending on a shot of snow globes is spot on. 

We as a people were easily amused back in the day and that innocence is personified by the little boy laughing at a flipping toy dog while cosplaying as a My Buddy doll. Let's never forget the simple joys of the holiday season.

Sun Country Wine Cooler

OK, this one is not technically a Christmas commercial, but allow me to try and justify it. First off, it features a talking Polar Bear as the spoke-creature, long before Coca-Cola got the idea to attempt it with computer graphics. Second of all, the bear is revealed to be an elegant woman in costume! I feel like this wine cooler ad represents the Yuppie ideal of Christmas, a severely underrated segment of society in this day and age. Where have all the Yuppies gone?

He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special

Returning to my local TV station just 1 year after the special originally premiered in 1985, this promo for the He-Man and She-Ra Christmas special is pretty fantastic, especially that glittery title card. Despite this epic ad, I do not recall watching this Filmation special as a child, but have seen it within the last 5 years and found it to be a lot of fun. Much like in G.I. Joe The Movie, our bad guy leader, in this case Skeletor, ends up becoming an unwilling ally to the side of good as the plot moves forward.

This ends up being a great source of comedy throughout the story, with Skeletor actually feeling the spirit of the season. In fact, when Retro-Daze had a meet-up at RetroCon in 2016 and Vaporman87 hooked us all up with a chance to get an action figure autographed by Alan Oppenheimer (the voice of Skeletor), I asked him to re-enact his famous line from this special, "But I don't like to feel good, I like to feel evil" and he did so with a twinkle in his eye. I think this really should have been called The Skeletor Christmas Special, as his journey is the most interesting part of the show.

Well there you have it, 5 Christmas Commercials of the '80s that hopefully made for a small, but holly-jolly moment of your holiday season. What are some of your favorite Christmastime commercials?
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OldSchool80s Posted on Dec 21, 2018 at 01:14 AM

@Vaporman: Yes! Something strangely comforting is a good way to put it.

Vaporman87 Posted on Dec 08, 2018 at 11:07 PM

How odd it is to long for the days when bright blue screens with yellow and white text ruled television advertising. There’s something strangely comforting about them.

I personally love the He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special. It did a fine job of combining the two worlds and playing to the light-hearted appeal of Christmastime. You have to love Skeletor being good and wondering what the heck is wrong with himself. LOL

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