Even though movie monsters start out trying to be the stuff of our nightmares, we as a people desensitize easily and somehow grow affection for these so called creatures of the night and eventually treat them as pop culture icons, much like pro athletes. So it should come as no surprise that exactly like pro athletes, they’re often seen on TV shilling everything they can, especially around October. Here are the 10 best examples of monsters not being scary, but still paying their bills.
10) King Kong for Audi
This is actually the second car commercial to feature the giant ape; in this one Kong can’t decide which he likes better the gorgeous blonde or the new Audi. In the end, he chooses the car, which is probably wise considering that it will never end up hurting him. The commercial loses points for using a man in an ape suit instead of animation, however.
9) Dracula for Texas Instruments
“Imagine the Prince of Darkness with a solar calculator” is the tag line in this one and it begs the question — doesn’t the Prince of Darkness normally mean Satan? Would Satan or Dracula be more offended by the confusion? And why would either of them need a solar calculator? This isn’t a particularly good commercial, but the sight of Dracula waxing on about his new calculator is kind of entertaining in its own strange way. Also, the actor is doing that typical “blah blah” type performance that likely would have made Bela Lugosi violently angry.
8) Godzilla for Fatherhood
Sure, Godzilla is a city-wrecking monster who has made many a child an orphan, but did you know he’s also a good father? These were a series of clever ads from the national fatherhood initiative which also included characters like Tarzan. This piece shows Godzilla hanging with his poppinfresh-like offspring Minya while the gentle voice of Magnum P.I. says some common sense things that make you sad that they need to be reiterated by a commercial in the first place.
7) Frankenstein’s Monster for Bic Pens
In a scene inspired directly from the universal classic Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s monster finds himself trapped in a block of ice. However, this time he hacks his way out of with his Bic pen, which is still working by the time he’s done. This raises the question of what’s the greater achievement, a man built from corpses or a Bic pen being sturdy.
6) Various Monsters for Heineken
This European ad for Heineken has the makings of a great horror movie. It’s well-made, it’s got a sense of humor and a great ending. It also teaches us a valuable lesson — there is no such thing in this world as a free beer. Either you’re going to be asked to help someone move or get decapitated and eaten.
5) Frankenstein’s Monster for Orange Shasta
This fun little nod to the classic Frankenstein has nice production value and subtle humor. The narration is by Tom (“Mr. C” on Happy Days) Bosley, and Star Trek nerds might recognize “Red Jack” as the cashier, so if you squint, there are two monsters in this ad. Everyone knows however that the Frankenstein monster is more into grocery store Dr. Pepper knock offs than anything else.
4) Elvira and Pals for Coors Light
Coors Light seems like an odd choice for the official beer of Sam Hain. Guinness seems more logical, seeing as it’s from Ireland, looks like bog water and nobody knows what it really is. It doesn’t matter, however, because Elvira is involved and it’s hard not to like anything she’s involved with especially in October.
3) King Kong for VW
Volkswagen decided they needed a big spokesperson for their new larger cars in the early 1970s, so they tapped the eighth wonder of the world, King Kong. Unlike the 1970s remake of the film, this Kong wasn’t a man in a suit but a stop-motion creation of the late Dave Allen (MST3K fans, take note — Allen also made the turtle aliens in Laserblast). In the digital age it doesn’t seem like much, but this commercial was really an amazing bit of work back then.
2) Universal Monsters for Pepsi
Pepsi licensed the actual Universal Monsters for this prize promotion in the 1990s, and a great series of commercials followed featuring the classic monsters. Most companies would have been content with just knocking the characters off, so it’s a real bonus. Also it filled your average convenience store with monster displays you wanted to steal when the clerk wasn’t looking.
1) Godzilla for Nike
It’s Sir Charles vs. Gojira! The always outspoken power forward took on Japan’s greatest monster in this terrific ad campaign for Nike. Despite the fact that Godzilla dons goggles, loses to Barkley and the ad is less than a minute, it’s still a better movie than the U.S. remake of Godzilla we’re all still trying to forget. Godzilla and Barkley became fast friends off the set as they both share a compulsive addiction to gambling.
Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.