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TV Commercials: The Necessary Evil
The television industry blossomed in the 1950s when affordable TV sets made their way into people's homes. Along with some short commercials, often entire programs were funded by a single sponsor. For example, NBC's The Firestone Hour and Colgate Comedy Hour variety shows were fully funded by a single sponsor. The wildly popular I Love Lucy was sponsored by Phillip Morris. As television grew in popularity and power, the force of TV ads became more respected. Airtime became expensive and ads were reduced to shorter and shorter lengths.
By the mid-1950s, TV ads were brief and punchy with catchy phrases and songs. In 1955, NBC sold advertising on the show Queen For A Day at a rate of $4,000 per minute. Millions of television sets were sold each year and TV programming and advertising worked together to sell their products.
In 1965, the TV turned colorful and in the 1970s everyone was singing "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke." In the 1980s with the addition of widespread cable TV and ESPN, CNN and MTV, commercial television boomed. Throughout these three decades, television commercials became less real and more fantasy. When football player Mean Joe Green tosses his dirty t-shirt at an admiring little boy, Coca-Cola created another advertising coup. Coke does it again in 1984 when pop-star Michael Jackson's hair accidentally catches on fire during the filming of a commercial. Apple Computer strikes it big with it's famous "1984" commercial for it's Macintosh computer -- which ushers in the Super Bowl commercial phenomena. Commercials with dancing raisins, cartoon characters and talking candy bars are seen constantly.
from Ron Kaufman's TV Advertising: Past, Present & Future © 2004 by Ron Kaufman turnoffyourtv.com