Early Television Advertising: Ford teams with Peanuts

It’s amazing the interesting trivia you can find when you look at early television advertising. For instance, how many people walking around today associate Ford with Charles Schultz’s Peanuts? There is, in fact, a connection.  In the late 1950s and early 60s Ford offered a pair of cars it called the “Economy Twins.” The cars were advertised together as being the best value-for-the-money that Ford offered at the time. The economy twins, at least in 1960, were the Ford Falcon and the Fairlane 500. The Falcon was billed as America’s lowest priced 6 passenger car. The Fairlane 500 was also considered a great deal on a large car. The peanuts characters in early animated form were used in advertising these vehicles.

These ads are easy enough to find on You tube. In a 1959 ad for the economy twins, Charlie Brown is handing out cigars to other peanuts characters such as Shroeder and Linus. Lucy comes rushing up and asks Linus: “What’s the occasion, has Charlie Brown had another baby sister?”  “No,” Linus responds, “Ford has new economy twins. So he’s passing out cigars to everyone.” “Everyone?” she asks. Just then Snoopy walks by holding a cigar, clicks his teeth, and puts the cigar in his mouth. “Yes, everyone.” Says Linus.

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In another ad, this one from 1960, Charlie Brown is flying a kite. Lucy, again, runs up and advises him to write an a message on the kite advertising Ford’s new economy twins. She gets more and more enthusiastic about this. Then the kite comes crashing down. Charlie Brown asks her: “What were you saying?” “Forget the whole thing!” she says and walks away. The ad then segways into ordinary film, with a male announcer picking up a real kite, saying “Well it was a good idea. But an even better idea is for you to actually see Ford’s economy twins for 1960…”  He then proceeds to introduce the viewer to the Falcon and the Fairlane 500.

One final ad deserves mention. It is a 1961 ad in which the peanuts themselves check out an animated version of the 1961 Ford Falcon. Without going too deep into the details, the Snoopy skips by, Linus explains to Pigpen that Snoopy is excited because he just saw the new Ford Falcon. A male narrator comes in at this point and says that everyone who has seen the Ford Falcon is excited. Pigpen responds that he hasn’t yet seen it yet, he and the narrator exchange greetings, and the narrator suggests that they show Pigpen the Falcon right then.

They then proceed to a fairly realistically drawn version of the car and converse about its attributes, such as its choice of two engines and the fact that it gets 30 miles to the gallon (it’s hard to believe that a large car actually got that kind of mileage in 1961, and one suspects that the ad might be exaggerating), and that it goes 4000 miles between oil changes. At one point Pigpen touches the car, leaves a hand print, and Linus wipes it off. At the end, Snoopy comes dancing up again, and Linus and Pigpen dance off with him due to their newfound excitement about the Falcon.

Check out Youtube for these ads. They are a tasty bit of nostalgia. Ford enthusiasts, Peanuts fans, and anybody else will surely dig them.

Source: Kayser Ford of WI

Author: Dicky Phillips

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