Friday, March 25, 2016

Mid-Fifties Commercials

Today a lot of animated commercials are CG cartoons, many of them thirty-second spots. But sixty-plus years ago, if commercials were animated (and there were a lot of them), they were done by hand. And most that were broadcast then were of the sixty-second variety.

EZ Pop Popcorn (1955)

Pepsodent (1956):

There was a span of time in the early days of the Television Age, when a lot of industry animators opened their own shops and cranked out a lot of TV commercials for a wide variety of clients. There was Playhouse Pictures, Ray Patin Animation, and a gaggle of others. These small studios were staffed (and often owned) by industry veterans. Patin, for instance, had been a Disney animator way back when, as were other small-studio operators.

And Walt Disney Productions? They had their own animated commercials department through the middle fifties; the department was eliminated during the Great Bloodletting at WDP in the late fifties.

Forty years on, Baer Animation was one of the L.A.-based commercial houses that flourished in the wake of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and a spike in demand for hand-drawn characters gracing live-action commercials. Bob Kurtz founded Kurtz & Friends in 1972 and over the next four decades became a prolific creator of animated commercials (among other animated things).

But in many ways, the 1950s was the heyday because there was an abundance of commercials and many small studios ready and able to create them.


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