No sector of corporate America loves their mascots more than the fast food industry. McDonalds never would have gone on to serve billions and billions of hamburgers had they not run across the creepy Ronald McDonald. Jack in the Box commercials wouldn’t be the same without the round headed clown/CEO Jack to deliver
PG-13 NC-17 humor. And….. well…. um….
In the same decade when Taco Bell had hired the most annoying anklebiter in television history, and Long John Silvers created a mascot so horrific they actually killed him off, Little Caesars decided to push their little corporate cartoon aside and take the ADHD (read: Geico) approach to advertising.
Not that Little Caesars didn’t have a mascot, or even a catchphrase… we’re all familiar with the little Roman guy who flips pizzas on the end of his spear just like his people did back in the first century BC when they weren’t stabbing each other in the back or nailing religious cult leaders to crosses. He would pop up at the end of each ad and utter the doublespeak that would plague the patrician class in those ancient days of the Empire.
Rather than focus on certain characters and/or running gags, each Little Caesar’s commercial in the 1990’s featured seemingly normal people in very strange situations. Here’s a few forgotten gems I found on YouTube this morning:
That’s Impossible! (Featuring the old, timeworn “trick” of the dog that says “I love you”)
Training Delivery Guys (Absolutely hilarious!)
The Five Stages (Classic Little Caesar’s goofiness)
But the commercial that prompted this post, and the one I was so happy I found among YT’s treasure chest, comes from 1996. It is the second of two ads Little Caesar’s created based around the concept of the company wanting to shoot some spots with a celebrity, but they were unwilling to pay the price for some big name star. So their talent scout dug up the following one-act wash-ups for whom the red flag on their 15 minute meter of fame had long since proclaimed “Expired!”…
And Evel Knievel:
When viewed on a grand scale…. this ad is more stupidly goofy than funny. But I don’t care… it cracks my ass up…
Jimmie and Evel each get their chance to show off their ineptness at the gentleman’s game of tennis by playing off the caricatures that once made them famous. J.J. gets to act like a clumsy douchebag…
Evel returns the volley by showing that the ass end of his red, white, and blue jumpsuit is obviously permanently glued to the seat of his motorcycle…
You know this isn’t going to end up good…
And if you think Eddie Munster got the short end of the stick in this ad by not being involved in this
fucking retarded exciting action on the courts, think again. As we see J.J. wince in pain because his cocoa puffs are getting smashed to crumbs by the star spangled hood ornament on Evel’s bike, it cuts to Butch Patrick occupying the referee’s chair. He calmly leans into the microphone and in the greatest job of deadpan acting in comedy history, utters one single three letter word that has had me in stitches now for almost two whole decades….
Without that one scene, I’d have probably long forgotten this commercial even existed. It may only be pants-pissingly funny to three people in this world… but I’m one of them dammit!
It’s almost become a game among the hopelessly uncreative people who spend all year trying to come up with “clever” commercials for the Super Bowl to see which long-faded star they can invite back into the spotlight. Betty White’s making more money in her 90’s than you will make in your entire life thanks to one stupid Snickers commercial that totally screwed over Abe Vigoda.
Alas, none of the trio of J.J. Evans, Eddie Munster, or Evel Knievel were able to capitalize on their epic portrayal of three morons playing tennis for Little Caesars. Jimmie Walker went back to the anonymous life of being an annoying black stereotype, Butch Patrick returned to the fucked up life of signing autographs for rent money at horror festivals, and Evel Knievel continued to be an unfunny version of Super Dave Osborne. Even the guy who played the cheesy agent in this commercial, Dicky Fine (Yes, Dicky Fine!) barely has anything to brag about on his IMDb page…
No, the only one who came out of this commercial smelling like a rose was…. yep, this guy!
Which brings us full circle to the power of the corporate mascot. While everyday people and out of work celebrities can make advertising magic for a moment, it is the eternal life and the brand recognition of the fictional company icon that will always persevere. But for their offbeat foray into making the man behind toga behind the stuffed crust a mere cameo cameo, The Nest salutes Little Caesars for their string of entertaining commercials several decades ago that made us put the DiGiorno box back in the freezer and pick up the phone for our supper instead. Well, most of us anyway…
Great, now I have a compilation of the TV theme songs in my head: Barney Miller, The Munsters and Good Times.
I am guessing “Fish” isn’t shown on Antenna TV in the middle of the night then. Darn.
Yucky pizza, but the teenager at home likes it. Cheap eats on 100 degree days.
I have never seen the spinoff “Fish” before, and only know of its existence through secondhand knowledge.
I love the Barney Miller theme… and it’s a part of one of my earliest memories I’ve managed top retain. I have very few recollections from the apartment my family lived in the first 33 months of my life, but one of them is a clear memory of seeing the part of the Barney Miller intro where Hal Linden stops to chat with the other officers as he walks in the door of the station. And that would obviously be when it was first run, too! Sometime in the 77-78 season! 🙂
I remember the first time I saw Ron Glass on something else, I was all “That’s Harris!”. Cop shows were all the thing in our house, so this and Hill Street Blues I especially remember (ooh, another theme song!)
I have never watched Hill Street Blues, but know and love the theme! I remember my 7th grade music teacher in 1987 playing a record of TV theme songs he had for the class, and we were to name which TV show each one was off of. Whatever happened to the great TV theme song? The 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were full of them… and now networks just rush through mindless intros and ending credits that used to be memorable sequences for a lot of classic shows!
Sadly, Little Ceasar’s quality is just about as good as the acting in that commercial.
Little Caesars, the D List of the pizza world…
You’re giving it too much credit.
Is there an F list? Or maybe F-minus?
Isn’t there a shit list?
Dirty deeds done dirt cheap!
I always enjoy your stabs from the past in TV land… principally because I missed most of these commercials the first time around! 😉
But seriously, how did I miss them? 😛
Maybe you were outside actually doing something! 😉
Lmfao. Brings back memories. Have you seen High Chair? It’s the one where the little girl is in the high chair and the pizza is so cheesy it flings her around the house. Adorable.
I think I remember that one! I came across a similar ad I forgot to include where some lady grabs a slice of pizza in the airport, and the cheese continues to string out even as she boards her plane and the airplane takes off…. and then in midflight, it finally recoils and takes the whole plane with it… probably killing everyone on board!
OMP! Now I want pizza-pizza for dinner. I’ll need to text mommy on that. AND WOW – we have never seen that commercial with the all three of those guys. Too funny! Daddy is laughing his butt off – and trust me that’s a lot of butt – double snorts. XOXO – Bacon
The more butt that gets laughed off, the more room there is for pizza pizza!
I’ve never heard of “Little Caesars” but we have Burger King and that Burger King mascot puts the Daleks to shames for scare factor.
On behalf of America,I would like to apologize for the creepy Burger King….
On the plus side, any little kid seeing him/it (?) will be begging mum for a nice salad instead of a burger.
I refused to enter a MCD as I was a child… because of Ronald ( and because my grampy said, that their burgers are made from kids, killed by Ronald at night). My parents had to drive to Quick burgers with me, even when we had to drive nearly an hour.
I think Grimace was the one stealing kids for the burgers. Happy Meals are…. people!