July 19, 2014 posted by

Those 70’s Spots


What can you say about the 70’s that hasn’t already been said? Inflation was up and employment was down. Cheezy bad taste was considered to be tops in entertainment.

The playground that was animation was shrinking and expanding at the same time. Advertising people were using a lot of animation in their commercials, and there was still room for creativity, at least sometimes. We’ve featured ads from the 70’s in this column before, but today we are devoting the entire post to them. So pull up a bean-bag chair, but don’t sit too close to the screen…

King Vitaman

With the voices of Joe Flynn and Paul Frees. Produced by Jay Ward but subcontracted to Quartet Films. I think these characters would have been good for a TV series. Too bad the commercial campaign didn’t last long. Who was to blame for that? If King Vitaman were here he’d say, “Not me! The cereal!”

W. C. Fritos

We have another W.C. Fritos spot for you that comes through the courtesy of Buzzco Productions.

Mini Ravioli

Animated by Martin B. Taras. Soft pasta in runny tomato sauce so tempting that even herbivores can’t resist it. I think this was the decade where consumers really began to embrace the idea of tinned, frozen, and fast food.

John Hancock

Amazing spot based on the drawings of Robert Osborn.

AMF Weekends

Another trend of the 70’s was that large corporations wanted to “diversify.” Often this was accomplished by purchasing some other existing company. Sometimes these new ventures would go south pretty quickly owing to mismanagement from the parent company. Good thing things are different now, he said. In this spot we discover that AMF added the Almighty Himself to their portfolio, and that allowed them to create the 6th and 7th days.

Arm and Hammer

A very virile Frank Buxton voices the hero here. Baking soda is genuinely useful stuff, and it can neutralize excess stomach acid, clean car battery terminals, and make the Arm and Hammer company enough money that they can spend it airing animated commercials like this one.


The quality of Hanna-Barbera’s series animation was going downhill in the early 70’s, but during that same period they produced some very lush looking spots at their commercial department. Here’s a Pebbles spot directed by Art Babbitt and mostly animated by Irv Spence and featuring the voices of Alan Reed, Mel Blanc, and Paul Frees.


  • Here is a classic 1971 Ford Falcon commercial that features a few animated spots featuring terrific black and white cinematography:

  • I’m almost certain that the Arm and Hammer spot was designed and animated by Dean Yeagle for Zander’s Animation Parlour.

  • I remember they ran TWO versions of the King Vitaman series. Besides the sample you showed here, The SECOND series had a bit more detailed animation, The King’s sidekick was a cowardly knight called Sir Gravelneigh, The “Pour milk on King Vitaman” gag was rarely used, and the King himself was drawn to look a bi more like his voice actor Joe Flynn, even to the point of having him wear eyeglasses. Those spots seemed more like Jay Ward’s work than the sample you showed here.

  • Two things:
    Is the “Not So Bright Knight” in that King Vitaman plug Bill Scott?
    Saw a picture of the monsters in the Pebbles spot in Topher’s Cereal Character Guide: Seems like you found out who it was!

  • As I recall, AMF also owned Harley-Davidson for a while, much to the rage and fury of motorcycle enthusiasts, who view it as a black period.

    The John Hancock ad wouldn’t be made today, what with all those cigars! Nor, for that matter, the Fritos spot. Quieting kids with junk food? Heaven forfend!

    (How on earth we lived through the 70s, says the cranky old animation fan with sarcasm…)

    • To say nothing of the 1960s, when Fred and Barney were shown smoking Winstons in the back yard in THOSE commercials! Sure, they were cartoon characters created for the first-ever “adult” prime time cartoon show–but KIDS were watching, too, and some doubtless wanted to be like Fred and Barney by smoking! Horrible! Any other type of company (except alcohol pushers) would have been a better sponsor!

    • Well unlike today, kids actually got out of the house often.

  • Here is a Frosted Flakes commercial from 1974- Along with Tony the Tiger, this commercial also features Katy the Kangaroo, Elmo the Elephant and others. Katy the Kangaroo was displayed on cereal boxes right next to Tony. The boxes with the tiger made better sales so Katy was eventually forgotten.

  • Although not from the US, here’s a 70’s ad I liked so much the first time I saw it on YouTube. An ad for Kentucky Fried Chicken that became a classic in Australia and New Zealand, involving a car ride with two plump children in the back seat…

    They tried to remake this ad a decade ago but it’s just not the same.

    • The backseat boy in the remake couldn’t get much thinner!

  • Here’s a King Vitaman spot done at Ward. This is the second KV with glasses.

  • Mark Kausler did you work on that King Viataman Spot

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