Sunday, April 12, 2015

Jeno’s Pizza Rolls (Ad)

In memory of Stan Freberg.

Stan Freberg was a comic genius.  He got his very first job on his first day in LA, as voice actor for Warner Brothers in 1944* and went on to radio and TV success.  In the 50s, he wrote and performed in a series of classic comedy albums.  His work in those areas are justly celebrated.

But his greatest influence was in the area of advertising.  He started making ads in the early 1960s, with his ad agency Thyme Incorporated.**  And Freberg did something that had never been done for advertising:  he made his ads laugh out loud funny. 

There were many ads, including Sunsweet Pitted Prunes (“Today the Pits, tomorrow the Wrinkles!  Sunsweet Marches On.”), including one starring Ray Bradbury (“I never mentioned prunes in any of my stories.”)

But the best of them was his ad for Jeno’s Pizza Rolls.

First, a little background.  At the time of the ad, Lark Cigarettes*** was running a campaign, where they’d drive through the streets with a sign reading “Show Us Your Lark Pack!”  People would hold up their cigarette packs.  Here’s an example:

And this is what Freberg did (the first person who interrupts the announcer looks much like the Lark Cigarette’s spokesman; the second – well, you should know who they are):

Johnny Carson has said that when the commercial was shown on The Tonight Show, the audience broke into applause, the only time he’d heard that about a commercial.

Freberg kept making the world laugh until his death a few days ago. And his work will still live on.

*In Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears.

**Time, Incorporated were good sports about it, referring the matter to their lawyers Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary.

***Yes, cigarettes were still advertised on TV at the time.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps it should also be in memory of Jeno Paulluci. He was a boy from the Iron Range in northern Minnesota who first put Chinese Food (after a fashion) in American grocery stores by founding the Chun King brand. After he sold that company he got the idea to put pizza sauce and toppings into an egg roll style wrapper. Thus was born the Jeno's pizza roll.

Paulucci was noted for using catchy ads to sell unfamiliar food products to American consumers.

William Sommerwerck said...

It is not quite true that Freberg's commercials were the first to be "laugh out loud" funny. Bob & Ray had done humorous beer commercial in their low-key style. More significantly, had Jim Henson had made ultra-violent commercials for Wilkins coffee, which had viewers screaming (in laughter or revulsion).

What is significant is that Freberg produced scores of genuinely funny (sometimes satirical *) ads that almost always sold the product. ** Not surprisingly, businesses came to him for more of the same.

* There's one stating "Four out of five doctors recommend Chun King chow mein." The four are Oriental, of course.

** The only known flop was the classic Ann Miller commercial for Heniz' Great American Soup.

-Alan D Hopewell said...

Whenever I think about how stupid and crass commercials have become (bears and toilet paper....SERIOUSLY?) I long for Stan Freberg.