First tv ad to employ humor

Yea, there is a specific one that is acknowledged by ad men. It was in the 60’s. Anybody recall it and the product ? No prize, offer invalid in Wisconsin (cause I just don’t like those people)

I have a DVD full of TV commercials, some of which were humorous long before 1960, so I dispute the premise.
The most famous funny one from that time period though was Stan Freburg’s Jeno’s Pizza Roll commercial which you can see here. But it was hardly the first.

I think we need a strict definition of humor to try to answer this question, because I remember funny TV ads from my earliest days of watching TV (1951 lets’s say).

Your contention is that they went twenty some years before it occurred to someone to use humor in an ad? :dubious:

Did the one you’re thinking of involve Jim Henson? He started doing ads in 1957.

I, too dispute your premise. Humorous ads were done for beer, tuna fish, powdered milk, bug spray, and a whole host of other stuff you can find on YouTube.

Now, to be totally pedantic, there are some advertising folks who think the 1960’s Volkswagen campaigns (like this one, featuring Dustin Hoffman) were the high point of funny, effective commercials. But even that’s a matter of opinion.

I think the OP might mean satirical ads, of which a few scattered examples exist before Freberg, but he defined the genre and pwned it for several years.

No, it’s my contention that Shakespeare was an imposter.
And gimme my jacket.

Humor was used in radio ads of the 40s (and earlier). The ads were even integrated into the shows. I doubt it took very long for TV to follow suit.

Some sort of oil filters IIRC. Young couples’ car breaks down. He looks at her. We sense romance. She gets out and replaces the <?> oil filter, valves whatever. She has oil/grease all over her white dress, pretty face as she cheerfully works on to his bafflement.

It was a huge deal that they were making fun and having fun. There was a TV Guide article about it as well. That was when TVG was the arbiter of popular culture.

If I had to pick…Framm?

Alka-Seltzer was doing funny ones back in the '50s – with Buster Keaton, even.

It was Purolator. Here it is. But I don’t think it was groundbreaking.

Here’s an Arthur Godfrey soup commercial from 1956. If you want something that makes fun of the product, try “And there’s chicken there, too. You won’t find it, but it’s there – Guaranteed, it’s there. If you find any, bring it to us, but it’s there!”

For people who are not as ancient as I am, they were making fun of a trope, or meme, or whatever, where a guy pretends that the car has broken down, or is out of gas, and they’re stuck, and while they wait for someone to come along and help, they might as well…y’know.

I don’t know if men ever tried this in real life, but it got tried in the movies and TV a lot, and got bandied about quite a bit, so that “the car broke down” was a euphemism for “they’re out somewhere doing it.”

It’s very funny that this guy tried it with the one woman in the entire 1950s whose father taught her how to work on cars.

I think maybe a question that would better get to the OP’s point would be “When did shows stop being sponsored by a particular product (or product label), that would then be hawked by the show’s stars, and instead, products would produce in-house commercials, and buy air time on different shows for the same commercial?” The spots where the stars of a show would say “Hey, by the way, Maxwell House brought you this show; go out and buy some,” were pretty dry.

I don’t know the answer, but it happened pretty early on, within a few years of television, and was a big switch from the way radio did things. I guess it happened because TV shows cost more to produce than radio shows did.

It’s not the first, but the Alka-Seltzer ‘spicy meatball’ commercial was one an early smash hit that spawned numerous funny commercials.

There’s a mention of Jim Henson above, he did coffee commercials in DC when I was very young. I don’t remember the brand, but I remember the Muppets, which I think were supposed to be coffee beans.

The Purolator Oil Filter commercial was first shown on November 19, 1962. The actor was Morty Gunty and the actress was Joan Anderson. Here’s an article about it:

Depending on which TV history you read, credit is given to Pat Weaver, who created the Today show (because no single sponsor could possibly sponsor two hours per day, five days a week) and an ABC executive named Oliver Treyz (because ABC’s ratings were so bad the only way a sponsor would get a big enough audience on ABC was to have its commercials run on several different programs). Either way, it started in the early 1950’s and was pretty much the rule ten years later.

I imagine that’s when commercials started to become little eye- and ear-catching skits, and not just “Hey, we brought you this show; buy us if you want more.” Humor probably followed so fast it tripped over the previous advancement.

A not so planned funny commercial happened here in LA in the early 1950s on the late movies. There was a car dealer that would do live commercials with a used car brought onto the set (Ralph Williams?). Anyway to get people’s attention he would pound/slap the fender to show what a great car this was.
One night for a laugh the stagehands unbolted the fender. The dealer pounded it and the fender fell off.

The host mocking his sponsor like Arthur Godrey is, I think, not what the OP meant. I thought she/he meant the product itself deliberately filming a commercial meant to be funny. The Purolator one (thank you previous posters :slight_smile: ) is the first I recall as well as the magazine articles about it. Until the OP returns we won’t know.

It’d be easier just to watch all TV commercials in the order of their appearances and stop when you find a funny one. I don’t expect this would take very long.