Saturday Morning Commercials Sold a Generation: The More You Know!

It seems like only yesterday that analog television, giant bowls of cereal, laying around upside down on the couch with siblings, and impatiently waiting for a favorite character to pop up on screen were the norm.

It was a time before Cartoon Network even existed. It was “Saturday Morning Cartoons” time. A decade wherein kids didn’t have the option to sit for hours on end on any given day watching marathons of animation through the ease of Netflix or Hulu. One had to wait an entire week for their favorite show.

Saturday mornings in the 80s were special; a reprieve for all in the house, as the adults got to sleep in for once, while the kids had the run of the living room. The shows were important, but so was something else — the commercials.

The ads were part of the show

Not only did kids in the 80s not mind those 30 second marketing segments, those segments were loved.

They placed objects of desire on exhibition…i.e. toys, candy, restaurants, junk food, fun places to go. All “necessities”, all at a parent’s expense of course.

These days, as an adult, when a commercial is coming on, …it’s a race to the bathroom, mad dash to the laundry, checking the oven, creating grocery lists, or any of the million other things, simply not to get bombarded with products and ads.

Back then however, those Saturday morning commercials were magic. Even though, in real life none of the toys ever worked the way the TV said they would, food never looked the way it did on screen, and a cartoon character never flew out of anyone’s cereal box to keep them company over breakfast (not once!), commercials kept one hopeful and dreaming; a kid.

The frightening truth behind those lovable commercials

In the 80s advertisers spent an average of $6 billion marketing towards children. Only 20 years later that number has increased exponentially, being upwards of $17 billion.

So were 80s kids guinea pigs? Numbers don’t lie and statistics say the answer to that question is yes. If 80’s babies were the wave of the future, what they saw then would influence their purchases as adults now.

Marketing research has indicated that today’s children influence 95% of breakfast choices, 98% of family entertainment decisions, and 98% of family casual dining. This is an indicator of the influence commercials geared towards children have on an underdeveloped mind.

But we loved them…

We know that commercials in the 80s warped our minds and outraged our parents, but we still love them. Here are some of the more popular and beloved commercials from the 80s:

Tootsie Pop, how Many Licks? A mystery to this day, no one knows how many licks.

McDonalds’ Birdie. Fast food meets creepy clown and friends.

The Hamburglar, in class with Ronald. McDonald’s answer to the Cookie Monster.

Dunkin Donuts, time to make the donuts. Hmm, do you wonder if the Baker being so tired all the time inspired Dunkin’s coffee campaign?

Hershey’s Kisses, Holiday Bells. These delectable chocolate bells are mostly seen during the Holiday Season. Coincidence?

Author: Kristyn Lewis

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