Bad Breath? Call the Listermen

In 1988, Listerine unveiled their Ghostbusters-like troop of bad breath fighters, the Listermen. They make their first and I believe only appearance in a commercial for a better tasting version of Listerine, Listermint.

In the ad, a couple are enjoying a bubbling hot tub. Things are looking to get romantic, but unfortunately the guy in the tub suffers from severe halitosis. Not only is it killing the mood in the tub, but it is bad enough to warrant a call to an elite hi-tech bad breath fighting force. The Listermen show up and go right to work. First blasting the guy in the mouth with their Listerbeam ray gun.

The beam seems to do the job, but that is only half the job for this commandos. They educate and berate this guy. Hoping that a combination and knowledge will prevent them from having to make a return trip.

The Listermen investigate the Halitosis Hot Tub

So who are the Listermen?

First you have Dr. Mark Myers. He is an inventor and founder of the Listermen. Brilliant and eccentric, the billionaire Mark Myers is obsessed with ridding the world of the scourge of sour mouth.

Dr. Mark Myers

Next up is the mysterious weapon’s specialist, Blake Hart. Hart is the strong quiet type. We don’t know much about his past, but at some point he was saved by Dr. Myers in the jungles of South America and they have been tight ever since.

Finally, we have Robert O’Neil. The newest member of the team. O’Neil appears to be a clown, but inside he is a broken man. He uses his sharp wit to hold back the loss he feels from the death of his family. Who perished in a freak bad breath elevator incident. He as been a loyal Listerman ever since. His prowess cleaning mouths is matched only by his sharp tongue. Throwing out lines like “That’s right piranha breath,” you know he means business.

Do you have bad breath or know someone who does? Don’t think anyone can help? Well, the Listermen are out there. They will be there to clean your breath and much like Hans and Franz from the old SNL sketches, they are ready to pump, you up.

Listermen Salute

Do you know what is the best? References!

pizza hut crystal pepsi

When Pizza Hut had Crystal Pepsi

I lose all objectivity when it comes to Crystal Pepsi, or as we called it “Crystal P.” To me, and me close circle of friends, it was an exaggerated big deal. We drank and celebrated this clear cola and somehow were never tainted by any backlash.

So while others might roll their eyes at Pizza Hut boasting about selling Crystal Pepsi, we did not. Instead this was just another reason for us to get pizza from the Hut.

In this offer which ran in 1992/1993, we see Pizza Hut bragging on having Crystal Pepsi. A product, their pizza rival, Domino’s does not carry. The commercial is wonderfully optimistic, with pizza patrons calling to order pizza contingent on Pizza Hut or Domino’s having Crystal Pepsi to accompany it.

Naturally the professional and polite staff at Pizza Hut, not only have Crystal Pepsi, they will give it to you for free with the purchase of two 1-topping pizzas. All for the low price of $11.99. A compelling deal indeed. Why can they do it for such a low price?

Well it appears to me that not only does Pizza Hut have Crystal Pepsi, they have so much of it they don’t know where to put it. Placing random bottles on shelves and counters to meet the demands of a crystal beverage thirsty public.

Meanwhile across town. In I imagine, the worst part of town, the irreverent and disrespectful staff at Domino’s have no Crystal Pepsi to offer their patrons. You would think that would cause them to be contrite, prepared with a quality offer of a fine Coke product? Not these Domino’s employees. At best they can only mumble a “no,” and at worst they outright mock the caller.

It is all a lot of fun and a perfect encapsulation of the ongoing Cola War that has now mixed into the burgeoning Pizza War.

Specific dates for this particular offer escape me right now, but I this it ran during the summer/spring at least. I recall going to a Pizza Hut with a friend’s family and for some reason we ate the pizza standing around the car in the parking lot. We were all pretty excited to crack open the 2 liter of Crystal Pepsi, but drinking it warm out of paper cups really cut into our enjoyment. I guess we got one of those warm bottles they stored on the counter.

Watch this magnificent Pizza Hut has Crystal Pepsi Commercial

If anyone else had a Pizza Hut/Crystal Pepsi experience, I would love to hear about it.

Have You Heard of Cal Worthington (and his Dog Spot)?

Thanks to the internet, you probably have seen Cal Worthington…and Spot!

From TV Host to Car Dealer

Oklahoma native Calvin Coolidge “Cal” Worthington moved to Huntington Beach, California in 1949, after finding modest success as a car salesman in Corpus Christi, Texas. Once there, he established a Hudson Motor Car dealership. After that, he purchased time for a three-hour live country music television show every weekend on Los Angeles’s KTLA, later named Cal’s Corral.  When sponsorship of entire programs became unfeasible, Cal switched to owning a Ford dealership, becoming known for his offbeat (and memorable) advertisements.

Cal Worthington’s Dog Spot

One of Cal Worthington’s rivals in early 1960s Southern California car dealerships was Chick Lambert of Brand Motors Ford City. Lambert always pitched for his the Ford Dealerships he worked for (he was employed by multiple area dealers over many years) with his dog, Storm. Worthington upped the ante of advertising wars by introducing his dog Spot.

Except…Spot was not a dog.

That’s right, Cal Worthington’s pet sidekick was…a gorilla that roared!

(Not the gorilla).

In fact, I’ll give you the truth…Spot was never a dog. However, Spot was many different animals – an elephant, a tiger, a skunk, bear, killer whale from Sea World, a goose, a bull, snakes (EWWW!), a roller-skating chimpanzee, a carabao (Water Buffalo), and a hippopotamus. But never a dog.I’d buy a car from the guy who runs with a leashed tiger and lives!

Now he’s just trying too hard!

Cal Worthington (and his Dog Spot!) commercials were a hit and a staple of Southern California into the 1990s. And that jingle? The stuff of “stuck in your head” earworms!

The jingle (to some extent) still exists in current advertising for Worthington Ford, with his grandson, Nick, as the new “Cal Worthington.”

Upload via Nick Worthington

He tries, but he’s no Cal Worthington…and his dog Spot.

Come on, he didn’t even have a dog Spot in the ad!

Cal Worthington’s Legacy

Worthington’s “His Dog Spot” commercials were legendary on the West Coast, saturating the Los Angeles-area airwaves. In the 1970s, his ads aired on four of the seven Los Angeles stations. Famously enough, they aired mostly in the overnight hours during late movies. The Television Bureau of Advertising said that Worthington is the best known car dealer pitchman in television history.

We didn’t have a Cal Worthington-esque car dealer in the Northeast/New York City market (that I’m aware of), though we did have appliance store Crazy Eddie and his memorable ads, if you like comparisons!

He was INSANE!

Not bad for a man who never owned a car, hated selling them, and only wanted to be a pilot.

Worthington passed away in 2013 (he lived to the ripe old age of 92!), but his legacy of drawing potential buyers in with his catchy advertising lives on in the archives of YouTube.

Wouldn’t you love to see those ads?

Go See Cal, Go See Cal, Go See Cal!

Uploads via lugnutsoldcrap

Upload via Chuck D’s All-New Classic TV Clubhouse

And how about this one from 2007-2008? Yes, that is Cal Worthington!

Upload via CalWorthingtonFord

Upload via Richard Carson, who noted that these ads all aired within a half hour of each other on KTTV during their late movie in 1988.

There’s also a few in this Oddity Archive episode on local advertising (Beginning at 22:58)

Uploaded via OddityArchive

He put a smile on your face, didn’t he?

spiffits squad

Spiffits Cleaning Wipes – Collect them all!

In April of 1989, history was changed forever. It was there, at the tail-end of eighties that Spiffits launched as the first complete line of pre-moistened household cleaning towelettes. These are pretty common products nowadays, but in 1989, this was a big deal. To roll them out, the Dow Chemical company launched with an $18 million-dollar advertising campaign developed by Henderson Advertising, of Greenville, South Carolina.

The ad campaign featured animated Spiffits “spokesboxes.” It took the form of commercials, produced using single-frame stop-motion filming techniques and moldable rubber box puppets. This was hot stuff 30 years ago and was considered an innovative animation technique.

By making these spokesboxes, Spiffits had inadvertently become somewhat kid friendly. Thus the campaign was rendered more memorable to my still evolving brain. I could care less about what worked best for cleaning the house, but I really wanted these Spiffits as toys. After all, who would not want to run to the toy store and purchase THESE dirt fighters.

Glass Cleaner

The brains behind the operation.

spiffits glass cleaner

Furniture Polish

The fixer who makes sure operations go smoothly.

spiffits furniture polish

Soft Scouring Cleaner

Easy on the eyes, tough on dirt and grime.

spiffits soft scouring

Bathroom Cleaner

Willing to do the job no one else want.

spiffits bathroom cleaner

Multi-surface Cleaner

If you have a job, no one else can do, this Jack-of-all-trades is the only name you need.

spiffits multi purpose

Okay, so maybe these would not have been huge sellers at the local toy store. It still feels like a missed opportunity. If I could have pressured my Mother to send away for a spiffit toy with each purchase, she might have formed a positive association with the brand. Perhaps then they would still be on the shelf along with the millions of other wipes that have come since. Or even better, maybe spiffits would have become so well-known that the word would have become the eponym for cleaning wipes.

Watch this classic Spiffits Cleaning Wipes Commercial