Welcome to Ad Age Rewind, the first in a new series. Many of our readers have shown some love for vintage ads and it's easy to see why -- they're delightful, funny, campy or even downright irresponsible and insulting, and by and large are a great indicator of how much the times have changed.
So, we've decided to make it a point to regularly rewind, going back in time anywhere from a few years to several decades to reflect upon an ad and what it says about changing human behavior and culture. Most often, we'll pick apart an old TV spot because, let's face it, retro commercials are just so memorable and resonated with us so much. But occasionally the rewind will take other form, such as a print ad, package design innovation or billboard.
For the first one, we decided to highlight a spot starring Andy Griffith, who passed away earlier this week. While he was best known for his roles on the silver screen as Sheriff Andy Taylor on the "Andy Griffith Show" and the seersucker-suit wearing lawyer on "Matlock," his career also included a long list of brand endorsements. He starred in dozens of commercials over the years, for brands such as Post Cereals, Ritz Crackers, Kraft Cheese and AT&T.
This black-and-white ad for Post Toasties particularly tickled us. In it, Mr. Griffith appears in character as Sherriff Taylor, recounting a wild dream he had about being an astronaut where he travels to the moon on a rocketship in the shape of a husk of corn. He explains to his son -- a very young Ron Howard, who played Mr. Griffith's son Opie on the show -- that the rocket opened up to reveal Post Toasties flakes, and he invited the "moon people" to taste them.
At the time, these sorts of integrated commercials were common, where a large marketer would sponsor the show and the cast would get involved in pitches for the products during the commercial breaks. What's really jarring is to hear a commercial complete with a laugh track, as we do in the Toasties ad.
A little history about the brand: Post Toasties were named for C.W. Post and were a follow-up to the first boxed, cold cereal from the company, Grape Nuts, which is still around today.
The Post Cereals tradition started when Mr. Post in 1895 successfully made the first batch of a cereal-based drink called "Postum" in a little white barn in Battle Creek, Michigan. That became the foundation of a new category of breakfast foods in America. Mr. Post died in 1914, but his focus on marketing was carried on and helped make the company one of the innovators at the time when it came to advertising, using then-new and still-in-use standard methods of connecting with consumers, such as coupons, sampling efforts, plant tours and recipe suggestions.
At the turn of the century, Post Toasties were originally given a very religious-sounding name, "Elijah's Manna," but the moniker was scrapped a few years later after protests from clergymen. These days you won't see them on store shelves, but you will see a range of other adult and kids' cereals made by Post Foods, including Raisin Bran, Bran Flakes, Shredded Wheat, Honey Bunches of Oats, Great Grains, Alpha Bits, Honeycomb, Golden Crisp, Pebbles and Waffle Crisp. Post has gone through a series of mergers and acquisitions with General Foods, Philip Morris and Ralcorp, but earlier this year a spinoff was completed with an initial public offering for Post Holdings.
The old Post Toasties ad employs what then was probably considered a clever use of TV trickery -- to pull back the husk on an ear of corn only to reveal lots of corn flakes. Funnily, ages before his best-known series of ads appeared, for Ritz Cracker, in which he called the snack a "Goooood Cracker," he called Post Toasties "gooooood" too in just the same way, as you'll see in the ad.
Earlier this week, Mr. Howard penned a touching tribute for the Los Angeles Times about his former co-star and acting mentor.
Early in the second season of "The Andy Griffith Show," I ventured a suggestion for a line change to make it sound more "like the way a kid would say it." I was just 7 years old. But my idea was accepted and I remember standing frozen, thrilled at what this moment represented to me. Andy asked me, "What you grinnin' at, youngin'?" I said it was the first idea of mine they'd ever said yes to. Without a pause, Andy responded for all to hear: "It was the first idea that was any damn good. Now let's do the scene." That inclusiveness that allowed a child to truly be a part of something as unique and memorable as "The Andy Griffith Show" is something I will forever be grateful for.