By DYLAN GOWAN.
I love television promos. You know the ones – where a channel promotes all of its stars and shows in one long commercial? Those ones. They make me positively giddy. But their heyday was definitely in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when cheese abounded and there was no shame.
But there is more to these ads than a catchy song and a bombardment of stars. They perfectly capture the culture of their time. The zeitgeist, if you will.
So today, let’s dive back in time and revel in the glory of these classic, feel-good promotional reels of yesteryear, from here and other places (AKA ‘Murica).
NBC – Come Home – 1987
It’s important that we start with America, because America is the home of cringeworthy, upbeat ‘80s TV promos that shaped the way the rest of the world did theirs. This one is particularly wonderful. I mean, just look at it! You’ve got a young Michael J. Fox, Alf, leotards, cutting edge graphics and a great disco-y song. It is everything you could want and more.
ABC – America is Watching – 1990
It was the dawn of the 20th century and the beginning of the decade that brought us Nicktoons and those
dangerous weapons toys, Skydancers. This promo from America’s ABC captures that awkward transitional period where ‘80s fashions were still hanging on for dear life but the ‘90s were just starting to take over. Plus: Full House! And a young Neil Patrick Harris?!?
ABC – Come on Along – 1982
Look at all those stars and normal people alike, walking the streets of Time Square together! A marching band! Line dancing! Happy Days! Racial inclusiveness! Super ‘80s graphics! Ermahgerd, this might be the most magnificent promo of them all. RIP Al Molinaro.
NBC – The Place to Be – 1990
It is a travesty that all of about one second is dedicated to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but I guess it had only just started. Let’s ignore Bill Cosby and appreciate what this promo has to offer; the main thing being that stellar television screen setup. It’s the real MVP. Plus, that rockin’ jingle.
TV3 – Come Home to the Feeling – 1989
Prior to 1989, NZ had two TV channels: TV1 and TV2. But then a new player came to the airwaves: TV3. This promo is super, super American – inspired by NBC’s Come Home – with some Kiwi faces thrown in for good measure. This song will be in your head off and on until the day you die. ♪♪ News, News, Information ♪♪.
TV2 – Share the Best – Early ’90s
Based on an ABC jingle from the ‘70s, this is about as ‘90s as it gets. Everything about it screams “I AM FROM THE ‘90s WHERE WE LIKE PASTEL COLOURS, BIG HAIR, CARTOON ARROWS AND COOL COMPUTER GRAPHICS!” I love it.
TV2 – It Takes Two – Early ’90s
A big, huge dance party with a massive old TV2 logo and some crowd-surfing TVs. They don’t make ’em like the used to.
TV2 – I Got 2 Babe – Late ’90s
If you don’t know this promo, you definitely weren’t a ‘90s kid; in fact, I would even question your status as a New Zealand citizen! Me and my sister loved this ad as kids. Plus, it’s got Squirt and the ‘90s What Now crew! This is the best network promo New Zealand has ever produced.