There's an early episode of 30 Rock where April Ludgate shows up as an NBC page. This was before Parks and Recreation was ever created! How'd that happen?
A common experience while watching old tapes and video files is spotting humans that went on to become significant, yet appear as nobody extras in ads and programs. Any aspiring actor has to pay their dues by taking a bunch of menial roles until the one day they land a supporting role on a sitcom that goes huge. There are thousands of old advertisements featuring future stars. Here are a few I spotted and gathered from my own tape collection...
I don't see quite as much candy advertised on TV as I used to. On many of the early-80's recordings I own, there are a lot of ads for candy bars targeted at teenagers. Kit Kat and M&Ms still advertise, but at adults. The last time I saw a candy bar ad with jocks and cheerleaders happily chomping on brown sticks, it was about 1993. Whether Mars Inc. bowed to parental pressure or whether teens just quit buying as many sugar snacks, who can say.
What I do know is that's clearly Ally Sheedy in the middle of the ad below, and this must have been filmed before WarGames or she would have had a larger role.
The last time I saw Ally Sheedy in anything, it was the 2004 indie film Noise, where she played a psychotic neighbor. Screw that Noise. Sheedy was the Alison Brie of the 1980's; overtalented yet underused. She nailed her role as the eccentric Stephanie Speck in Short Circuit, and it made me wish she was in more films. Without Sheedy you just have a film about a sentient robot slinging pop culture references -- anybody can make that kind of movie. She made it work.
This one is almost unrecognizable, but it is indeed a perky teenage Meg Ryan squawking happily about a Burger King contest. This ad is pretty kitschy by modern standards, but the core of the company's strategy hasn't changed: shove a burger into the viewer's face, ad done.
This particular campaign takes it one step further by constantly singing "AREN'T YOU HUUUNGRY? AREN'T YOU HUUUUNGRY? AREN'T YOU HUUUUNGRY?" under the extreme food close-ups.
Here's another Burger King ad from the same time frame, with an even more unrecognizable star. Can you guess who, without reading the video title if it appears there?
That's right, it's the woman from the short-lived "Ringer" show, only here, she's a lisping 5-year-old in pigtails. She reminds me of Drew Barrymore at that age. Sarah may be possibly harboring an alien creature in her house and teaching it phonics via Sesame Street.
Here is an unknown Edie McClurg, years away from her role as Grace in Ferris Bueller, ordering something in an ancient Wendy's commercial.
When you think about Wendy's advertising efforts post-Dave Thomas, doesn't it make you want to slam your head on something made of concrete? They've told us "we know when it's real," they've put red pigtail wigs on comedians, they've tried "Mr. Wendy"....Dave Thomas made the same kind of ad for over 20 years because his presence made the company feel honest. He was the guy who owned the restaurant and he was good at speaking to a camera. You really believed the man cared about what you were shoving in your mouth. The spots weren't condescending, insulting or Hollywood-gimmicky...which is exactly what these new campaigns have been like. That is why they fail and Wendy's has to change ad agencies every six months.
|Wendy's newest effort, "Wendy's Way," involves a beautiful actress with vaguely Wendy-ish Lupa hair, who strolls around spreading the word of Wendy's. I have to admit this campaign isn't quite as grating as the others. It's nothing like Dave, but I'll take what I can get.|
Every recording I have of a children's show taped in 1987 has this Fruity Marshmallow Krispies ad in it. It's a darn catchy ad, and with repetition this often, the cereal must have really stunk to fail like it did. This particular variation has a second half featuring Fred Savage as a stand-up comic, only the casting of Fred doesn't seem to have been deliberate.
The Princess Bride was already out and The Wonder Years had just started. At this point, Fred didn't need to do bit parts like this anymore. Why is he there? At least you'd think his asking price would be a bit higher.
Also, that was rude, Fred. You knew there was a cow in the audience....
Now this is really freaky. I found an ad extolling the virtues of community colleges, that featured Yvette Nicole Brown (TV's "Shirley") as a phone operator. It came out in 2006. "Community" didn't start airing until 2009.
She's more or less playing Shirley here, and if
you'd told me this was released last year as an unofficial
"Community" tie-in, I would have believed you.
By the way, if you live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this ad just came true for you. GET OUT!
RETURN TO THE MAIN PAGE