This time of year, I do special issues recalling my most memorable holiday songs, television specials, commercials and movies from the 80s. I’ve already shared an issue this year on a Christmas song. Commercials are also legitimate pop culture contributors with Christmas commercials especially so. Last year’s holiday commercial issue was on the Folgers “Peter Comes Home” spot which began in 1986. This year’s holiday commercial is the Hershey’s Kisses Christmas Bells.
Hershey’s Kisses were first introduced in 1907 and have become one of the most popular candies in the United States. As of 1989, the chocolate drops wrapped in foil were the 5th most popular chocolate in the U.S., spawning sales that topped $400 million. People love Kisses not just because of their chocolate taste, but because of positive associations the candy has had in moments in their lives such as getting them as parts of a gift. This is a brand that became an American staple, had been passed down for generations, and that people could remember enjoying as a kid. Some of this positive connection is due to TV commercials.
Since Hershey began marketing its products nationally in 1969, its message has been as consistent as the chocolate recipe that made the Pennsylvania company the largest candy maker in the United States. That’s because by 1969, nearly seven decades after Milton S. Hershey launched his chocolate empire, the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar was one of the most identifiable products in the country and TV ads could simply pitch it as America’s favorite candy bar. The strategy worked, and company executives have rarely dared to deviate from it since. This goes for Hershey’s Kisses as well with TV advertising for Kisses changing remarkably little since the 1960s.
This brings us to one particular Hershey’s Kisses commercial that began airing in the mid-80s (though I have not been able to confirm the exact year) and has stood the test of time since it is still being used even this year. It is simple yet elegant and entertaining all packed into a 15 second spot. It begins with eleven Kisses in the shape of a tree. They become animated when the song “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” begins and are transformed into Christmas bells. At the end, the words “Happy Holidays From Hershey’s Kisses” appear and the intended sentiment is precisely communicated. Again, all this impressively happens in 15 seconds. You can watch the original spot here…
Brilliant and magical! New York City’s Ogilvy and Mather was the advertising agency handling Hershey’s at this time. The commercial was apparently directed by animation expert Carl Willat (you can find more of Willat’s work at www.carlsfinefilms.com/home.htm). The fact that the commercial is still evoking the same sentimental response over 20 years later is a testament to its greatness. I know I personally appreciate it each year when the holidays come. It might even deserve to be considered one of the most effective 15 second commercial spots ever created.
Hershey’s Kisses have been produced continuously since 1907, except for the period of time between 1942 and 1949 due to rationing of aluminum foil used for the wrappers which was a scarce commodity during World War II. More than 80 million Hershey’s Kisses are produced each day at the company’s two factories. So the candy has been being produced and sold for over 90 years yet, to me, its most endearing commercial is a product of the great decade of the 80s. Happy Holidays From Kickin’ it Old School.
That’s all for this holiday issue of Kickin’ it Old School. Thanks as always for reading. If you are interested in reading any of my other 80s related issues, please click there for a summary of those. You can also always click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of Kickin’ it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on “Become a Fan”. Even if you are not a Facebook member yet, please consider joining and registering as a fan at that page. You can also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says “Follow”. I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. Let other 80s fans know about it as well! Peace and much love.
Check this out: One of the most surreal moments in pop culture holiday history is when a duet took place between David Bowie and Bing Crosby. Though it did not happen in the 80s, they sang “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” on a special in 1977, the single wasn’t released until 1982 so it kind of counts. It has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly did a version recently that was more creepy than funny. On College Humor, Jack Black and Jason Segal did an animated version which is actually more good than funny. I will share the good one with you here. Enjoy…
Quote of the day: “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” -Calvin Coolidge