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A refrigerator is a cold box. An oven is a hot box. A dishwasher is a box that sprays hot water. These are your major kitchen appliances in a nutshell.
How do you sell something like that? Well, just like they do with laundry detergent, American adjunct lagers, and compact cars, the bright minds on Madison Avenue have to think outside the (hot/cold/water-spraying) box to get through to consumers.
Not that they think particularly hard. We got lost in a YouTube rabbit-hole of appliance ads during a recent blizzard, and found that TV spots for white goods fall into three overarching categories. Enjoy.
Isn't That Cute
No suburban home is complete without a kitchen full of white goods and an adorable kid. This vintage Frigidaire TV spot was probably one of the first of its kind, with the aww shucks kid, too big for his britches.
And check out this enterprising little tyke with a trike. This sort of "Leave It to Beaver" style commercial shows that the dated humor where the parents look at Junior, then at each other and say "gee, that Junior's done it again!"
Making a Spectacle
Appliances might not always be exciting, but breaking stuff always is. Smash!
Smash a washing machine and blame it on your kid!
Smash into a refrigerator on the beach! Wait...what? It's like B-Roll from an ad for Levi's jeans. But with a Sears showroom floor on sand.
Or maybe just smash the bourgeois notion that you should even own appliances at all, because who even cooks their own food, amirite?
Ah yes, beer commercials, the pinnacle of American advertising. These aren't appliance ads exactly, but cold refrigerators are central to the experience of drinking inexpensive, taste-free beer, so they become stars of the show. Like this "walk een" Dutch mini fridge.
This Bud Light ad sets the standards for all beer-fridge collaboration ads.
Can you think of any ads that we missed?