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Art Direction in the Nuttin Polly-O String Cheese Commercial
I feel like we have revisited this famous Nuttin Polly-O String Cheese Commercial so often on the site that I could do a podcast on it. Why can’t I stop talking about it? It is one of the more memorable commercials from my youth for a few reasons. I loved pizza. The people in the ad kind of talked like people I knew. And it featured this amazing product that was sweeping the nation, string cheese.
Last night I was rewatching it yet again (maybe for a podcast) and I started noticing a few things that I wanted to share about the commercial’s art direction.
First, the look of this pizza parlor. Pretty generic at first glance save for the neon sign, but some very interesting signage can be seen in almost every shot. Here you see a sign for “No Screaming.” This would have been a good sign to hang in our local pizzeria. We could get pretty obnoxious, especially if they had video games. We were constantly getting chastised by the people running the place. Also notice that guy in the corner. He appears in multiple shots and is completely unnecessary.
You can also see a little bit of pizza in this shot. To me, it does not look like very good pizza. At least not the type I grew up with. These kids are better off just ordering some cheese.
More details and more signage! Fred and Jimmy, the guys behind the counter, both have aprons with their names on them. Did they make those especially for this commercial? Did they name the characters after the aprons they had laying around? As for the signs, these are real gems. They are both sassy and believable for a pizza parlor.
Polly-O was started by Giuseppe Pollio in Brooklyn in 1899 and bought by Kraft Foods in 1986. The last active member of the Pollio family in the business was Joseph Pollio Sr. He retired in 1993.
The one on the left says, “Be patient, meatball!” The one on the right offers “Week-Old Pizza Half Price.” Both are just throwaway gags in the background and are easy to miss. But as I continue to watch this commercial over the years, they have become my favorite part.
The final thing I want to comment on is this shot with the box of string cheese and Jimmy. I like they way they lay it out all lined up, but look to the right at Jimmy. It is a weird face, right? Well, what makes it better is that he holds that pose for the entire shot.
For that whole last shot, that is how he looks for some reason. It is weird and short, but once you notice it, you will not be able to not see it.
I hope this short post gives you a greater appreciation for the Nuttin Polly-O String Cheese Commercial. Much like the cheese it advertises, you can continue to pull it apart and get more joy out of it. Now let’s watch it together in its entirety.