The Super Bowl ads this year were a mixed bag for me. There were some that were funny, some that were moving, and some that left you wondering what the ad agency was smoking when the scripts were approved. (As an aside please read Ken Levine's blog on this very topic.)
I bring up the complaints about the lack of creativity in some of those Super Bowl spots as an excuse to write about a man whose commercial creativity in both radio and television was legendary.
I first came across some of his work on a record called "Stan Freberg Modestly Presents: The United States of America. Part One:The Early Years". I was a kid, and didn't get a lot of the jokes, but it was a fun record to listen to, and I slowly started to 'get' more of the jokes as I got older.
Here's a sample from that album:
Look him up. Google him. Youtube him. You will find an amazing amount of creativity. Stuff that he produced 40, 50, even 60 years ago that still holds up today.
I could write an encyclopedic blog post about him. Instead, I'll just post some examples of his genius here, and let you be the judge.
First up, a radio spot about......radio:
He was a master at commercials that not only entertained, but were very effective at selling the product. Here are a couple of examples.
First, a lawn mower commercial:
This commercial for Butter Nut Coffee poked fun at the idea of subliminal advertising:
Freberg was also a satirist. He had a recording career during which he poked fun at popular songs. He didn't do what Weird Al Yankovic does, which was to keep the melody and change the lyrics. He got his point across in other ways, as in this example of his version of the Banana Boat Song:
Even though he had a very successful career in advertising, he was not above biting the hand that feeds him. His recording of "Green Chri$tma$" got him in a little hot water with people who never even HEARD the record, give it a listen and see what you think. I think his message is as relevant today as it was when the record was first released:
This is but a tip of the ice "berg" There is so much more to listen to and enjoy. I hope I've piqued your interest in him.