Broadway Showtunes and the Commercials
Growing up, I was always enthralled by commercial jingles. These catchy little snatches of musical genius, that you associated with a particular product or service, were a great way to keep audiences (consumers) thinking about products long after the commercial had ended. As I came into my love for musical theatre, I was surprised to find that showtunes were often utilized in this way. Usually with altered lyrics, but featuring those catchy melodies, this was an effective tool. Here are some of the showtunes I remember showing up in commercials:
"Put on a Happy Face" from Bye, Bye, Birdie saw a slight lyric change before becoming the jingle for Windex. "Gray skies are gonna clear up - put on a Windex shine!" I've heard of "Broadway polish", but this is ridiculous!
Even though the show wasn't an enormous hit, the saucy "Holiday Inn" from Seesaw transformed into a little ditty advertising the famous hotel chain of it namesake. The sexual overtones were also excised, so "magic fingers" just didn't quite have the enticing allure as they did in the original, but the melody was there and certainly stuck with you.
For all of you Broadway fanatics out there (I hope that's who is reading this blog), you must remember the bastardized "Lullaby of Broadway" from 42nd Street that made the go-to hotel in the theatre district The Milford Plaza. "Come on along and listen to the lullaby of Broadway - and in the middle of it all, is the Milford Plaza." It was so tacky and so effective.
Carnival Cruise Lines, before their reputation "sank", promised a holiday at sea with a revised version of "If My Friends Could See Me Now" from Sweet Charity. Kathy Lee Gifford worked her way all over that boat belting "If they could see me now, out on a fun ship cruise."
"Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend" became "Accent is a Girl's Best Friend." This Gentlemen Prefer Blondes tune fits nicely in your spice rack, putting flavor enhancer on a level with oregano and precious gemstones.
Of all oddities, "Mack the Knife" from The Threepenny Opera became the personae of fast-food chain McDonalds. It featured a guy with a crescent moon for a head (was he the Man in the Moon?) wearing sunglasses and singing "Come on baby Mac Tonight." The commercial was quite popular, but also a little creepy.
Gatorade kept our electrolytes plentiful to the strains of "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better" from Annie Get Your Gun. If I remember correctly, Michael Jordan was also featured in the commercial.
"Memory" from Cats (and featuring the cast of Cats) was used as a public service announcement citing the ills of drunk driving. Imagine a bunch of kitty cats scaring the crap out of you with a reminder that too many beers and trip in your Chevy will turn you into a "Memory." Horrifying.
Gold Medal Flour stole "Fugue for Tinhorns" of Guys & Dolls to promote this kitchen staple. "Can Do! Can Do! With Gold Medal You Can Do!" The success of this jingle was a real crap shoot.
Stove Top Stuffing brought its breadcrumbs, herbs and seasonings to the Great White Way with "Stove Top Tonight," a jaunty little take on "Comedy Tonight" from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
Sofia Vergara sexily lazed on the beach to the words and music of "Whatever Lola Wants" from Damn Yankees. I believe she was sipping on a Pepsi, so that must have been what they were advertising. I truthfully don't remember because all I kept thinking was about Vergara and what a great Lola she would make.
Stephen Sondheim couldn't escape a song from his Pulitzer prize-winning masterpiece from becoming a commercial jingle. Does anyone remember the Xerox advertisement that used "Putting it Together" from Sunday in the Park with George to promote its products? I'm sure the three of us who knew the show and got the reference were tickled at being "in the know."
Can you think of any others? Please share them here!