Thursday, December 17, 2009

Noelco and World Peace!

Over on Facebook I mentioned, as I tend to do on an annual basis, that the Norelco Santa Ad is hands down my favorite Christmas commercial of all time.

My pal, Steve Bissette and others have weighed in with another great one, R. O. Blechman's spot for CBS.

I talked a little about the Blechman piece on FB after my friend, Betsy Gomez, posted it there a while back.

I wrote: "Man do I remember this CBS spot that ran when I was in high school. I'm not a person who who remembers a lot of details about animation but I do recall that this was by R O Blechman. His work was seemingly everywhere in the late 70s and early 80s and I think his influence cast a long shadow...from people like Keith Haring all the way to me. The sentiment of the spot's message is as true now as it ever was."

(Now that I see I meant to say late '60s not '70s...oh well)

In its short span Blechman's spot knocks the message of Peace on Earth right out of the park.
But is it a great ad?

What is it selling?
Watch CBS?
You were already watching CBS to see it.
That puts it into the realm of behavior reinforcement.
You are a fine person because you are watching CBS.

Now, if the goal of the spot was to say that "CBS is promoting world peace and to be kind to the environment"...well, those were not exactly the corporate goals of the Columbia Broadcasting System under William S. Paley!

Now on the other hand, the Norelco ad had a very tight sales goal.
Sell more Norelco razors.

Norelco entered the 60s facing declining sales of electric razors.
Its market share was declining.

The company made two critical marketing decisions:
Football and Santa.

Sales went up.
The company believed that their "Noelco" ad campaign was a big part that success.

I've always thought that this was, in part, because it marketed to kids and this was one of the only times of year where kids were ostensibly involved in making purchases for their Dad.
In those days, I firmly believe it was harder to know what get for Dad or Grandpa than it is today.
Kids didn't know what to buy.
How many jokes have there been over the years about sweaters, ties, shaving stuff, and other types of Christmas gifts over the years?

But by making this jolly Santa ad, they got the attention of the kids and helped make the suggestion that this a jolly good present for the man of the family.
(After all, it was competing with stuff like this doozy!)

The company believed that this was a good campaign and up-dated it at least two more times over the years.

On the one hand...did world peace go up?
Uh, no.

Did Norelco razor sales go up?

Better ad.

Blechman spot?
The tight, concise story telling of this powerful 60 second micro-drama makes this arguably the best Christmas animation of the entire decade of the 1960s.

And that is what I was thinkin'....
What do you think?


surfinstein said...

The thing about the Blechman spot was once I saw it, I remembered it. The Norelco "Noelco" spot is indelibly linked to Christmas, childhood, my living room with my dad sitting in his favorite chair on a Sunday night watching the shows of the day, or Bob Hope specials, the Christmas tree smells, tinsel, the Lennon Sisters (I know, strange)... none of which comes forward with the CBS ad.

Torsten Adair said...

That's a great ad, and possibly the best Holiday commercial of all time. Sadly, Norelco is being phased out by Philips.

However, there is a greater ad. It wasn't a holiday ad, although it usually airs around this time of year. It does promote world peace, and I admit my allergies *sniff* act up whenever I see it.

I refer to Coca-Cola's Hilltop Singers advertisement. There is an online exhibition over at the Library of Congress ( of Coca Cola advertisements, including a detailed history of the filming and success of that commercial. The music was recorded twice the year it aired, and both versions charted on Billboard! More recent remakes just don't have the magic of that original commercial.

Other notable commercials from my childhood (1970s): Bill Cosby's breakfast PSA from Kellogg's. The crying Indian anti-pollution PSA. Mr. Whipple and Rosie. The Tootsie Pop owl. And my two favorite jingles: Hallmark and Ma Bell.

Merry Christmas!