What we see in syndicated TV shows are a standard intro with opening theme music, and a closing theme as well. What we DON’T see are the original integrated television commercials. And that’s understandable. Why would we want to see old TV commercials for old products?
Well, in many cases TV shows made special television commercials to represent the products of their sponsors. Back in the day, companies purchased all the advertising time for each TV show, which meant that they could show commercials for their product at each break.
For example, the Beverly Hillbillies were sponsored by both Kellogg’s breakfast foods and Winston cigarettes, usually on an alternate-week basis. So a 1962 episode of The Beverly Hillbillies would have an opening and closing theme – and a little integrated commercial – talking about the sponsor’s product.
Another popular 60’s sitcom was the family comedy My Three Sons. Which, as you can see by the YouTube clip below, was proudly sponsored by the Quaker Oats Company and their long line of products and foods.
Hey, if you’re trying to get a quality anthology drama like The Twilight Zone on the air, you have to make deals with sponsors. Which is why the 1960’s drama featured commercials for everything from Pall Mall cigarettes to Lilt hair cream to Crest Toothpaste.
The syndicated opening credits for I Love Lucy feature a quick animation of a heart and the scripted names of its two main stars, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The original broadcast episodes featured the stars shilling for Phillip Morris cigarettes and Proctor & Gamble home products. Example…
The Andy Griffith Show was also a proponent of integrated sponsorship. Not only did they proudly promote their sponsorship with General Foods and Post Cereals, they even had Sherriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife chomping down on Grape Nuts in several episodes!
Children’s TV shows were not immune to this integrated sponsorship. The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle were essentially a wall-to-wall advertisement for General Mills cereals.
And even back in the Stone Age, Fred Flintstone was known to light up a Winston cigarette from time to time.
One more. Not only did the Monkees get lots of sponsorship dollars from Kellogg’s, the cereal company found a way to shove their cereal boxes into the show’s closing credits. I kid you not.
And there you have it. The best way for a television show to make it to the airwaves in the early days of broadcast TV was to work very closely with its sponsors and advertisers. VERY closely.
Hey, it could be worse… I could have this blog sponsored by the Ketchup Advisory Board, the Duct Tape Council and Powdermilk Biscuits. Right?