When commercials started showing up in movie theaters, people started freaking out. It really didn’t bother me all that much. As long as the commercial was well-made and short, I didn’t mind extending my time in the theater. Although, when a commercial was well-made and featured something I was interested in, then you could show me a dozen commercials. Sadly that rarely happened. For example, I saw this Parker Brothers video games movie theater commercial only once as a kid. Yet, I remember seeing this jeans commercial of people jumping up and down about a dozen times.
This commercial started running in 1982. I don’t think it survived 1983. By that time the games would have been outdated and the video game crash was in full swing. Still this is an amazing snapshot of the height of video game mania. It is also super-high quality. Shot in 35mm it looks great in HD, even at 1080p.
The premise for the ad is simple. The Parker Bros. games for Atari are so hot, they cause fires. So you get footage of people playing games, with smoke in the background. Pretty standard stuff. But the real magic happens when they cut to the footage of the games. Instead of the real game footage, you get animation. Here you see games like you will never see them in any other context. Some are just minor improvements over the original. Others though are MASSIVE leaps. For example, the character work on their version of Popeye is downright beautiful.
A lot of great advertising was created for that first wave of video game culture. We tend to focus on the TV and print material. But with its unique animation for the games and its cinematic release, I would say this one ranks up there with the best of them.