Monday, February 8, 2010

Memorable 90s Game Commercials: Jingles That Will Occupy Valuable Brainspace for Eternity

Don't forget to entire the Children of the 90s Ultimate Nostalgia-Fest 2010 Giveaway! It's open until Wednesday, February 17. Click here to see rules and enter for your chance to win some fun Goosebumps, BSC, Magic Eye, Lisa Frank, Pete and Pete, and more!

A catchy advertising jingle can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it's a surefire way to ensure that your product is a memorable one. If you've got consumers humming your commercial tune as they pass your item in the store, you know you've effectively set up camp somewhere deep within their hippocampus. Their limbic systems are undoubtedly clogged with your over-exaggerated guitar riffs and exclamation point-punctuated lyrics. On the inverse, your key demographic will probably grow to find your TV spot so irritating that they've developed fantasies of setting your company's ad recording studio ablaze in a fury of arsonist proportions. To sum all that up, you've got a good chance of coming up with something viewers will remember, but a far slimmer chance to coming up with something they'll like.

Sometimes when I'm trying to balance my checkbook or divide 1399034 by 3324235 in my head, I shake my fist heavenward, cursing the ad exec who jammed up my valuable brain real estate with his hook-laden commercial jingles. I'm convinced that if I'd never seen that Crossfire commercial, I'd be able to fill up an abandoned lecture hall chalkboard Good Will Hunting style, no problem. You see, the problem isn't in my own finite mental capacity. It's in the commercial jingle squatters who've built up makeshift shantytowns all over my brain's memory centers. We all could have been great thinkers of our generation had we never heard a Hungry Hungry Hippos conga.

While there are multiple offenders in the case of our brains v. trivial television knowledge, the Most Wanted would probably be children's commercials. In this case, TV spots for children's games. Take a quick stroll with me down memory lane and see if you can't recall these catchy jingles. You might no longer be able to memorize the national foods of northern European countries, but dammit you can break into jingle with minimal provocation. That may just have to be the best we can hope for at this advanced stage of memory blockage.

Twister: The Hot Spot!

I know I say this a lot, but this commercial is just so 90s. The extreme music, the quick shot-switching camera tricks, that corny wavy crayoned-on graphic; all signs point to 90s. It's like we couldn't come up with a special effect or camera trick without having to immediately incorporate it into every film-related endeavor. The lyrics are pretty convincing, though: "There's excitement goin' round/there's a party goin' down/Twister! The hot spot!" Get it? A party going down? Oh, 90s jingle composers. Is there no end to your double meaning witticisms?

Perfection: Pop! Goes Perfection

Just watching this commercial is enough to get my heart pumping fast. It takes me right back to the frantic assembly of the board before it scared the bejeezus out of me with it's unprovoked popping. Luckily, I never came down with that condition the guy in the commercial has. I've yet to see any geometric pieces expand and retract from within my splayed chest cavity. When we get to that point, I think I'll have more to worry about than trying to deprogram that jingle from my brain.

Don't Wake Daddy: Dooooon't Waaaake Daddy!

Now here's a great game: try to sneak into the kitchen to steal food without tipping off the man of the house. No wonder our nation has such a high obesity rate when our board games are like how-to manuals on sneaking chips and cookies. The jingle gives us a stage-whispered "Is he gonna wake up?" on repeat, but it seems sort of like an empty threat. Daddy still never gets out of bed or takes off his floppy nightcap. He never chases me 'round the board for my cookies. The game is inherently flawed.

Mr Bucket: The Balls Pop Out of my Mouth

This commercial took a lot of mocking for obvious reasons. I mean, really. They couldn't think of any alternate phrase for their namesake bucket to sing than "I'm Mr Bucket! The balls pop out of my mouth!" They're not even trying.

Hungry Hungry Hippos: We're Hungry, Hungry Hippos!

Speaking of games that may have played a part in our nation's eating patterns. The entire point of the game is to gobble up criminal quantities of grub. It's not exactly a health-conscious message, but then again maybe marbles are a nutritionally sound food. And anyway, who doesn't like a good conga? We're hungry, hungry hippos! We're hungry, hungry hippos! It's pretty contagious.

Lite Brite: Turn on the Magic of Shining Light

Okay, you got me. This isn't technically a game, per se, but the song has been stuck in my head since circa 1994 and I just couldn't bear the burden alone anymore. Thanks for saddling your share.

Connect Four: Go For It!

After seeing this commercial, I couldn't wait to hang out with my expressive, wisecracking Connect Four checkers. Imagine my shock to find mine were defective. They never said a thing.

Crossfire: You'll Get Caught Up in the (Crossfire!)

I've got to hand it to these ad people. They really manage to make a moderately fun board game look a fast-paced superhero action adventure. I always thought the song went, "Crossfire, you'll get caught up in the," as if they were filing it in the library's card catalog. "Let's see, let's see...It's by last name first, so that would be 'Crossfire comma you'll get caught up in the."

Kerplunk: (Insert Badass Rap Here)

If there's a more quintessentially 90s commercial out there, let me know, because I'm pretty sure this is it. These kids are having almost too much fun. You've got to question if Kerplunk really has the power to make that little girl throw her head back and cackle in pure ecstasy. Maybe she just really likes the rap. I know it does it for me. "Start with the sticks! Like so! Makin' a pit! Where the marbles go!"

Guess Who: Can You Guess Who?

Thank goodness for that disclaimer at the end: "Game cards do not actually talk." Could you imagine what a letdown we'd have gotten if we'd just believed our game cards would spontaneously spring to life upon initiating game play? The notion is almost too exciting to bear. Fortunately, our dream-crushing friends over at Milton Bradley have made sure to quash any sense of childlike whimsy and imagination.

Mousetrap: The Fun is Catching!

The fun is catching. Hmm. I mean, I get it, yes, very clever, but it sounds like we all need to wear swine-flu facemasks to engage in a simple round of mouse-trapping. I did always like those scheming cartoon mice at the beginning of the ad. They seem so determined to chart their route, I almost felt a little guilty thwarting their well-laid plans.

It's a testament to these ad campaigns that we can still hum along to their corny jingles fifteen-odd years down the road. I suppose there are worse things to have squatter's rights on your mindspace. You might not be able to solve a quadratic equation without a bit of scrap paper, but at least you'll have some good internal theme music going while you try to work it out.


Lil' Woman said...

All awesome games!! :)

Nic said...


Shannon said...

I actually owned every single one of these. Haha!

Melissa Blake said...

Oh man, not that Connect Four commercial!

Charlotte said...

I owned quite a few of these, and we mostly only received educational games in my household... guess these were pretty powerful commercials all around!

Elizabeth said...

Wonderful games!!! :-)

Meghan said...

Guess Who was one of my favorite games growing up!!!

Kristen said...

I LOVED Guess Who? But I did always wish the cards talked like the commercial.

Hannah said...

you missed Gator Golf!
Gator golf-give it a whack!
Gator golf-he'll throw it right back!
Gator golf-what could be greater, than playing a game of Golf with a Gator?!!

Literary Crap said...

I just played Hungry, Hungry Hippos over Christmas break! Love it!

Ali said...




It's totally stuck in my head now!

Marci Darling said...

Don't.Wake.Daddy. Haha that commercial freaks me out in some way now that I look back at it.

Lauren Kelly said...

LOVED this!!! I think I’m going to have to go and spend a weekend playing all these games and relive the memories, haha!!! Those were the days!! :)

Kristin said...

I was seriously obsessed with Hungry Hungry Hippo!

Predictable said...

These videos bring back so many memories! Do you think board games are making a comeback? We've been thinking about that lately:

Facebook's FarmVille and the like simply don't compare to a thrilling round of Hungry, Hungry, Hippos!

Seattle Kim D said...

Thank you for combining my two loves - advertising and the 90s, such a great post! I loved Hungry Hungry Hippos, I was always the green one. :P

Elizabeth said...

Your posts always make me want to call my older sister and discuss our childhood :)

Kristen said...

I tooootally hated Kerplunk. Neither my brother nor I had the patience to put all those damn sticks through the tower before each game. I think we played it only a handful of times before it eventually got donated to Goodwill.

Connect Four, on the other hand, was probably my favorite game as a kid. I remember the Christmas I got it, I was so desperate to see if I had gotten it that I opened each present just enough to see if it was Connect Four. If not, I tossed it aside for the next present. It finally ended up being the very last present I opened and of course I had to start playing right then and there.

Melanie's Randomness said...

Woa I had each & every one of these!! Mouse Trap was more fun to set up tho then play. hehe.

Anonymous said...

Great post, as usual. :) I used to want Don't Wake Daddy so desperately, but alas, I never got it. :( I also loved Guess Who? In fact I almost bought it gor myself this past Christmas. I have this friend who's a few years younger than I am and a few years ago when she had a snow day, a couple of us went to her house and played Guess Who for hours. Good times!

Radio Ads said...

I love this creation and i am sure all kids will like it, you have done great work, thanks for sharing.

Kari said...
Anyone remember "Grape Escape?" I was so sad when the playdoh dried out and I could no longer use it...

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