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Has a TV Commercial Ever Spawned a TV Series or a Movie?


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My favorite recent TV commercial is Geico Lizard Orders Pie at the Diner:

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I love this commercial so much, that if it was expanded to a feature film, I would be the first person in line to watch it at a theater on the day of its release. The cinematography and look of it is superb, it's like a scene from GOODFELLAS. I have been fascinated for years wondering about the backstories of:

The Lizard. We know that he promotes insurance and usually in the commercials evinces no other motivation, or agenda. But here, he speaks but briefly about GEICO which seems to be a subterfuge for his interest in the diner, its history and operations, and the pie. Why?

The Waitress. The actress, Patricia Belcher provides an astounding level of depth in 30 seconds. She portrays first and foremost POWER. Do you like strong female characters? Here is the epitome, though in a small environment. Is her power limited just to the diner?  I wonder. She also portrays wisdom, strength, emotional toughness, caring, and practicality with an undertone of love.

The Cook. When the waitress orders "PIE!" the cook seems to rise from a kneeling position. What was he doing when she calls out to him? To me there is an implication of some type of violent act that was underway, that the waitress has interrupted. I also wonder about the reasons for the dominance that she exerts so easily. What was the cook doing, what has he done and who else knows?

That led me to wonder, has a TV commercial ever been so popular that it spawned a series or movie?

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Also, if you love Geico commercials, I should tell you I'm pretty sure there was a series starring the Cavemen that originated on the commercials, but it only lasted a handful of episodes.

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The only one I can think of was the TV movie The Steeler And The Pittsburgh Kid (1981), it was based on the famous Coca Cola commercial of the Pittsburgh Steeler Mean Joe Greene and the kid offering him his Coke. Henry Thomas plays the kid in the movie.

The Steeler and the Pittsburgh Kid (TV Movie 1981) - IMDb

 

 

 

 

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I enjoy watching this GEICO commercial, too, in particular the performance of Patricia Belcher's waitress who, I must say, seems to really have the cook under her fearsome control.

 

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1 hour ago, sewhite2000 said:

I remember seeing a Simpsons Butterfingers commercial prior to the launch of the series, but they may have been on The Tracy Ullman Show already.

Yes, they got their start on Ullman's show on Fox.

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1 hour ago, sewhite2000 said:

Also, if you love Geico commercials, I should tell you I'm pretty sure there was a series starring the Cavemen that originated on the commercials, but it only lasted a handful of episodes.

There was...

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The Vern character (Jim Varney) spawned a short-lived TV series...

And Baby Bob was a short-lived CBS sitcom that was based on an ad character for several campaigns of different companies.

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3 minutes ago, txfilmfan said:

The Vern character (Jim Varney) spawned a short-lived TV series...

And Baby Bob was a short-lived CBS sitcom that was based on an ad character for several campaigns of different companies.

Beat me by just a minute or two here, Vern...ahem, I mean Tex.

Although Varney's character wasn't named "Vern". It was "Ernest".

(...and it also spawned a whole series of motion pictures too, remember)

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2 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Beat me by just a minute or two here, Vern...ahem, I mean Tex.

Although Varney's character wasn't named "Vern". It was "Ernest".

(...and it also spawned a whole series of motion pictures too, remember)

You're correct.   The "Vern" character was who he was speaking to, and was unseen in the ads I saw.

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2 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

Also, if you love Geico commercials, I should tell you I'm pretty sure there was a series starring the Cavemen that originated on the commercials, but it only lasted a handful of episodes.

...Yes, you think Geico's annoying NOW??  

The-cavemen-show-picture.jpg

(E-surance was also thinking of an Incredibles-style cartoon series for their Erin E-Surance spy girl, but...decided against it.  😑  This would have been around the same time.)

Further back, few even remember that CW McCall, hit 70's trucker-country singer of "Convoy", was actually the fictional pitchman for Old Home Bread:

...But that didn't stop Kris Kristofferson and Ali McGraw from turning Convoy (1978) into a movie.

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There was the live-action Mr. Clean movies with Clint Walker, the two Ty-D-Bol Man movies with George Maharis, and the animated Scrubbing Bubbles movie. They all led up to the team-up film Water Closet: Endgame. It was all part of the BCU, Bathroom Cinematic Universe. Huge hits in Europe, I believe.

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And just because England remembered Rowan Atkinson as "Richard Latham" for Barclaycard, why did we have to suffer through THREE Johnny English movies???  😭

 

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3 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

The only one I can think of was the TV movie The Steeler And The Pittsburgh Kid (1981), it was based on the famous Coca Cola commercial of the Pittsburgh Steeler Mean Joe Greene and the kid offering him his Coke. Henry Thomas plays the kid in the movie.

The Steeler and the Pittsburgh Kid (TV Movie 1981) - IMDb

 

 

 

 

Yessss. 😝 How verrrry sweet that those damnable thugs  Pittsburgh Steelers were featured in a movie.😡

It just makes my Cincinnati Bengals blood boil heart swell with joy to see such a nauseating heartwarming crock tale. 🤬

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5 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

I remember seeing a Simpsons Butterfingers commercial prior to the launch of the series, but they may have been on The Tracy Ullman Show already.

The series came first, but the Butterfinger commercials featuring Bart (before Homer became the face of the series) did premiere during the first season.  Before the series started, and after the (much different) sketches on Ullman's show, there was a single 30 minute television special on Fox, which was really more like a pilot.  Based on that special, a full series was commissioned. 

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I definitely saw the commercial first, because I distinctly remember thinking, "Wow, who ARE these characters?" By the time I saw the pilot, I'm guessing it must have been its second airing.

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8 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

Also, if you love Geico commercials, I should tell you I'm pretty sure there was a series starring the Cavemen that originated on the commercials, but it only lasted a handful of episodes.

According to IMDb, it only showed 6 of its 14 episodes. I watched 'em; I'm the one!

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39 minutes ago, hamradio said:

I would like to see a realistic Geico Gecko movie.

cat-lizard.png

 

 

And "When Emus Attack" where the Liberty Limu Emu turns on Doug.

 

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LOL

Well, there would go any seguel to a Geico Gecko flick, ham!

(...finding another one with a Cockney accent would HAVE to be tough, wouldn't ya THINK?!)

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Not a commercial specifically, but in the 80s, multiple cartoons were spun-off of characters created by greeting card companies.  As a very young child of the 80s, I watched many of these  shows.  Care Bears, Popples, Strawberry Shortcake, Shirt Tails, and Rainbow Brite to name a few.

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3 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

Not a commercial specifically, but in the 80s, multiple cartoons were spun-off of characters created by greeting card companies.  As a very young child of the 80s, I watched many of these  shows.  Care Bears, Popples, Strawberry Shortcake, Shirt Tails, and Rainbow Brite to name a few.

that's interesting to hear- some of those cartoons were in greeting cards first?

i watched a documentary on He-Man earlier in the year on netflix and was surprised to learn that the toys came first (although not released until the cartoon) and they rushed to create a cartoon to sell the toys.

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ERNEST movies!

I remember Johnny Carson showing these commercials of a goofy guy who'd always be talking to an unseen "Vern".

Apparently the producers of the commercials got so much input from viewers about the Ernest character that the next thing you know Jim Varney was doing TV talk shows and movies. And those movies did quite well.

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