In the other spot Joe Louis was even more to the point, plaintively asking: " Edwards & Hanly, where were you when I needed you?" The resulting effect was not one of embarrassment but, rather, of a kind Of catharsis, and viewers rushed to entrust their money to a brokerage business that was able to induce such admiration among its clients that they would bare their souls on its behalf.
Perhaps the classic—and surely the most publicized—sports commercial was made last year when Joe Namath shaved off his Fu Manchu mustache with a Schick electric razor. The commercial got columns of newspaper attention, but curiously Schick Electric, Inc. and its agency, Dancer-Fitzgerald-Sample, Inc., scheduled it only as part of a Christmas campaign. The commercial appeared but a single time on each network, and while everybody knew that Namath made $10,000 just shaving, very few people knew who paid him or with what kind of instrument he dispatched the bush.
Lois' second class of acceptable commercials, the never-never land, is best exemplified by the Maypo campaign, which has probably utilized more of the nation's best athletes than any other advertising effort. The ads require that our greatest he-men must cry for Maypo. This gimmick has raised Maypo sales more than 10%, which is particularly impressive since hot breakfast cereals are no longer de rigueur on American breakfast tables. The Maypo commercials even have an underground art quality to them, because they are shown almost exclusively on kiddies' daytime TV and few adults have ever seen them. The Dallas Cowboys were mystified last year when young fans started congregating around Don Meredith and crying in imitation of his Maypo performance. Mantle, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, John Unitas, Ray Nitschke and Willie Mays are others who have cried for Maypo, although Mays was initially skeptical, fearing the ad might damage his well-cultivated "Say Hey" image.
Lois is expanding on the Maypo scenario this year and going for more plot. Last year there was no variation, save for Meredith, who ad-libbed "I want it" at the end of his spot, a bit of innovative histrionics that has led Lois to exclaim, " Meredith may be the best actor who ever lived." This year Maypo will feature Gil Hodges and Tom Seaver—who are, apparently, destined to appear in every commercial this side of feminine hygiene—in an original drama of the dugout, and, in the second half of the twin bill, Carl Yastrzemski and his mother will be seen discussing Maypo in a simulated breakfast nook. You know it is simulated, because the clock in the background is set at 8:25 and ballplayers are never up that early, except perhaps for sex and apple juice.
So cut now to a studio on the West Side of New York, when it really is about 8 in the morning. Mrs. Yastrzemski, escorted by her husband, arrives to make her TV debut for Maypo. She is gracious, fine-featured, gray-haired, perfectly cast as the hypotenuse in an all-American triangle of baseball, cereal and motherhood. Mrs. Yastrzemski's name is Hattie, but everyone on the set calls her dear.
Carl, who played a doubleheader the day before in Boston, does not have as early a call as his mother, because he does not appear until the second act of the half-minute script. First, Mrs. Yastrzemski must explain to viewers how difficult her son was in the morning until she switched to Maypo.
Made up, Mrs. Yastrzemski begins to rehearse her opening speech with Ron Holland, Lois' partner. Men from various unions appear and start adjusting the height of the cabinet behind which Mrs. Yaz stands. Four different people, all calling her dear, adjust her apron bow at once. She goes over and over the opening speech, all 22 words of it. TV commercials, just like dramatic TV, are knitted, not created.
Yaz arrives as they are filming his mother's first takes. He stands with his father, and they watch together, mixing pride with a certain bemusement. One more take.
"You ready, dear?"
"Give us the bells, please," says Joe, the cameraman. Bells ring for silence.