#3. Sunkist Oranges: The Sunkist Monster
OK guys, kids are eating way too much candy. How can we convince them to give up the sugar and start eating more fruit? We got it!
What could be more enticing to an impressionable young kid than knowing that while fumbling around looking for the Sunkist label they risk being devoured by a giant reptile should they accidentally drop their orange?
Imagine if you will, that you're a kid who has just recently seen this commercial and you're young enough to actually believe it. You walk in the house one hot summer afternoon and request a snack. Next thing you know, without warning your dad says "Sure, champ!" The he tosses you an orange from across the kitchen. Suddenly, the seconds become hours as that little orange sphere of potential death comes hurling in your direction. Visions of your entire childhood flash before your eyes as you ponder why dear old dad would place you in such a precarious situation, your entire life depending on your ability to catch an orange.
Just as the orange reaches your trembling little hands, it caroms off your left middle finger and falls helplessly to the floor, at which point you turn and run screaming from the kitchen and out into the cold, cruel gaze of the other neighborhood kids who notice that you've just pissed your pants. Those kids then mock you relentlessly about the incident well into your high school years. Good luck coming out of that ordeal without a crippling drinking problem. And good luck coming up with a worse idea for a corporate mascot.
#2. Fig Newtons: Big Newton
Fig Newtons have always suffered from a bit of an image problem. While not altogether unpleasant tasting, they look like and (presumably) have the consistency of a heaping pile of bird shit wrapped in a corrugated cardboard sleeve. To help improve upon this unsavory image, the marketing forces at Fig Newtons came up with this:
Yep, that probably helped.
We're not sure if that's what a fig looks like or if the damn things have garlic in them. Anyway, hate it all you want, but this just offers further evidence that the music industry is justified in valuing looks over talent. Sure, this guy may have nailed the oh-so-difficult choreography and hit every note with pinpoint accuracy, but if the second-best auditioner looked even kind of normal, they should have gotten the job.
In this dude's disgusting hands, this looks less like a campy dance designed to get kids fired up about figs and more like a field sobriety test that's gotten completely out of hand.
#1. McDonald's: Ronald McDonald
This early version of Ronald McDonald isn't the most terrifying corporate mascot we've ever seen. It's the most terrifying anything we've ever seen.
Oh how the devil fools with the best-laid plans. We get where McDonald's was coming from here. Kids really shouldn't talk to strangers, nobody wants a repeat of the tragic events of the M&M's Candies Man fiasco described earlier. But maybe "don't talk to strangers unless they're dressed like Ronald McDonald" is pushing it a bit. If your mascot happens to be Robocop or some shit, that idea could work. Steel plated enforcer of justice is a hard look to imitate. But given that every Tom, Dick and John Wayne Gacy can get their hands on a clown costume for next to nothing, this might as well have been a training video on how to lure a kid into your car in under 60 seconds.
The point is, this commercial would have been disturbing even if it starred a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. But adding a clown that looks like the result of Jeff Goldblum in The Fly having passed through the teleporter with a bag full of McDonalds? That amps up the fright factor exponentially.
The Nick Nolte-mugshot hair, the makeup that looks like it was applied using a series of violent blows to the face, the yellowing teeth, that horrific belt/cummerbund/duct tape contraption around his waist. There is nothing about early Ronald McDonald that doesn't scream, "Drop the cheeseburger and step away from the playground!"
Want some more Ronald? No? Well, here it is anyway:
On a trivial side note, if you've never seen this commercial but for some reason you're finding it uncomfortably familiar, relax, it's not because it's jarring loose repressed memories of some childhood trauma (we hope). It just means you're old enough to remember the voice of the man underneath the beast, former NBC Today Show weather man and Ronald McDonald creator, Willard Scott.
Thanks for the nightmares, Willard.
Adam Brown has a whole website full of his stuff at ScenicAnemia.com.If you liked this, perhaps you'll enjoy our look at 5 Retro Commercials Companies Would Like You to Forget, featuring ads where the murder isn't just implied. Then head over to 8 Upcoming Movie Adaptations That Must be Stopped where three of our finest writers are arguing over which upcoming cinematic interpretation Hollywood should be most ashamed of.