6 Forgotten 'Star Wars' Ads
With yet another “Star Wars” Volkswagen commercial on the air and the constant ads for “The Phantom Menace” re-release, “Star Wars” is once more all over the media. But truth is “Star Wars” has always been on your TV, hawking one product or another. Here are just a few examples of how George Lucas’s characters have gotten you to open your wallet time again and again…
Much like Kellogg’s once-popular “C3PO’s Cereal” and General Mills lesser-known “Wedge Antilles Flakes,” “Chewie Treats” were yet another “Star Wars” fad food item. In the treats’ ad, Chewbacca attends a party but can’t talk or even flirt with anyone because no one understands his growls. Sad and lonely, he then takes out his party gift—a plate of delicious “Chewie Treats.” Soon everyone swarms around the snacks, gobbling them up and chatting with the Wookie as he desperately tries to explain the treats were meant for the host’s dogs instead.
Millennium Breakfast Liqueurs
From Brad Pitt promoting coffee-in-a-can to Nicolas Cage acting ape-sh*t crazy yet again, there’s a long history of American celebrities doing commercials specifically for Japanese television. And so it was with “Star Wars’” hero Han Solo as he promoted a brand new morning “adult drink.” In the ad, Solo is seen enjoying “a complete breakfast” including cereal, toast, and a fruit beverage with enough alcohol content to strip away your intestinal lining. He then falls off his chair and slurs something about “making it to work in under 12 parsecs” only to get into a drunken fight with the doorknob. Alas, both the product and ad were pulled when “Millennium Breakfast Liqueurs” caused a 42,000% spike in morning rush hour traffic accidents and bus stop vomiting.
R2-D2 Introduces the TRS-81 Personal Computer
In a precursor to the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads, R2-D2 went up against Tandy’s 1978 TRS-81 in a series of commercials that compared and contrasted the two. R2-D2 would explain through beeps and boops that he could help pilot an X-Wing fighter into battle. Then the TRS-81 would show it could make a TIE Fighter by putting an “H” on its screen. R2-D2 would explain how he could upload the complete architectural schematics for the Death Star. The TRS-81 would say it could hold up to three recipes so long as none of them had any complicated instructions like whisking. And so it went as R2 bragged about his many achievements while the computer slowly responded through a dot matrix printer that ran at a page per day. Eventually the ad was pulled because not only did it make the TRS-81 look bad but failed to reveal it had to be struck by lightening to boot up.
Darth Vader for Priceline
Long before going with Captain Kirk, the discount travel site used Darth Vader in a series of commercials in which the Sith Lord slowly choked a hotel concierge until he either got a room upgrade or the person’s larynx splintered. However, this led to a spate of physical assaults upon hotel personnel as people demanded a queen-sized bed or a suite near the ice machine before letting go of the receptionist’s throat. Thus, Priceline switched to the more upbeat, harmless ad campaign with William Shatner that just recently ended with his spokescharacter blowing up in a fiery bus crash.
Princess Leia’s Slave Outfits for Girls
In what proved to be the most god-awful movie tie-in the history of film merchandising, Princess Leia’s outfit from “Return of the Jedi” was featured in a series of commercials for kid’s clothing. This caused such an outrage that people found and destroyed the only print of the original fourth film in the “Star Wars” franchise, “All Ewoks, All Dancing.” The outfits were then burned, buried, and then the land was burned again, causing all to believe they were gone for good until they started showing up on the contestants for “Toddlers & Tiaras.”
Boba Fett for Volkswagen
Mini Darth Vader and the characters from the Mos Eisley bar were not the first “Star Wars” characters to appear in a Volkswagen Super Bowl ad. In1980 Boba Fett appeared in a commercial driving a VW pickup truck while hauling a carbonite-sealed Han Solo in the back. Unfortunately, the commercial ran almost five months before the premiere of “The Empire Strikes Back,” spoiling one of the film’s major plot revelations. This forced Lucasfilm to quickly change the ending of “Episode V” so that unlike in the commercial, Han Solo no longer accidentally fell to the ground due to a speed bump and shattered into a million pieces.
What other Star Wars ads would you like to see?