Wayback Wednesday: Oscar Mayer Wiener Ad from 1965

by James Thompson

Every Wednesday AdForum's James Thompson features a seminal ad from the past that in some way revolutionized advertising by profoundly impacting our industry, our culture, or the way our society interacts with commerce. 

Today, we’re going way back to the year 1965, when Oscar Mayer released its famed ad that would have Americans singing “I'd love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener” to themselves and others for decades to come. This ad underscores the power a catchy and brand-defining jingle can wield in inserting a brand into the cultural narrative. The advertising industry in 1965 was clearly well aware of the formidable synergy that occurs when visual images are seamlessly integrated into a musical context. Well played, 1965.

However, compared to today’s culture where self-expression is celebrated and being an individual that stands out from the crowd is applauded, the message of conformity in this ad seems a bit dated. The kids are animated and cute in a Charlie Brown type of way, but today’s viewers would certainly identify an element of bullying in this ad, which also says as much about today’s prevailing sensibilities as it does about those who watched this ad in 1965. But you do have to give Sandra C. Smyth credit for being ambitious; notice that the sign (watch the ad below) in the first few seconds reads:

Sandra C. Smyth's Chamber Music and Marching Society

Sandra C. Smyth - Leader 

Sandra C. Smyth - Director 

Sandra C. Smyth - President

Sandra C. Smyth - Treasurer


Also notably missing in this ad: a lack of diversity in the characters.

The jingle, however, still holds up after 50 years.

Previous Wayback Wednesday pieces:

Yogi Berrra orange juice ad from 1957
McDonald’s Breakfast ad from 1978
Mean Joe Greene Coca-Cola ad from 1979
Apple Macintosh ad from 1984
Dumb Ways to Die ad from 2012 

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