Like the rest of Western Civilization, we at Giz spent a decent chunk of our childhoods plunked down in front of ye olde cathode ray tube, being turned into giggling little consumers by enchanting ads like these. Behold, our favorites.
In retrospect, Mighty Max was really pretty shitty. It was just a "boy's" version of Polly Pocket, which was also dumb. It broke easily, and there wasn't much to do except open it, look at it, and then quickly lose the small parts. But that ad is rad!
When our Brian Barrett spend his childhood in the suburbs of DC, he dreamed of being a powerful warrior, no longer picked on for his flowing hair and radical views. Sadly, those dreams never came to be, and he was mercilessly pounded each day at recess. But the fantasy was kept alive by watching Jhoon Rhee's martial arts ads, which promised a life in which "nobody bother me." Jhoon Rhee also had the coolest phone number in the history of telecommunications: USA-1000.
Micro Machines were ingenius—tiny, inexpensive, easily lost, and imbued with the perfect gimmick—BIG things that are SMALL. Even more ingenius was The Micro Machine Man, the mustachioed cheerleader behind the minuscule fleet, who either by some preternatural gift or demon curse seemed only capable of speaking as quickly as his cars were small.
Nerf guns were great because they were the ultimate copout birthday present gift. Everyone liked Nerf guns! But not everyone had access to an abandoned industrial complex in which to have a 40 person foam dogfight, so these ads were a bit misleading. They do, however, encapsulate everything awesome about the 90s—BAD HAIR! X-TREMENESS! WEIRD FONTS! YELLING! GUITAR RIFFS!
Joe Brown's childhood exposure to Crazy Eddie might explain a few things—but that's neither here nor there. Despite being self-stigmatized as "crazy," Eddie just really wanted to sell you a VCR and maybe a new telephone. And if you didn't buy, he would beat you to fucking death with that giant candy cane. Who's the crazy one now?
This is just a tiny sprinkling of the wondrous TV ads of the past few decades—please share your faves with us below. Sure does make banner ads look even worse. Blech.