With Shark Week underway, we wanted to keep the fin fun going a bit longer with a look at how Steven Spielberg‘s landmark blockbuster Jaws and its sequels were used to promote products…mainly unofficially.
Yes friends, “sharksploitation” was a very real thing in the late-1970s and early ’80s, with many manufacturers shamelessly trying to make some cash off of the craze that the film (and Peter Benchley’s novel) kickstarted.
You could say it was a real feeding frenzy. Sorry.
Anyway, today I thought I’d introduce you to a few bizarre and entertaining commercials that showcased what happen when people tried to profit from Jaws mania! What follows is just a mere sampling of the seemingly countless shark ads that exist in the wild:
Good Humor Shark Pops
Not based on any Jaws movie per se, Good Humor nevertheless cashed in on Great White mania in the 1980s with their “Shark” ice pops. (Even going to far to open the ad with a riff on Jaws 2‘s infamous “just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water” tagline). P.S.: I desperately want one of these right now.
Chef Boyardee Sharks
The Pasta Shark is such an elusive and fearsome creature that not even the great Jacques Cousteau dare go in search of him. Super cool jingle though.
This next spot raises that most pointless of questions: Do sharks drink booze? Whatever the answer may be, here’s a 1976 ad for Colt 45 Malt Liquor that was unleashed upon a grateful (and shark-fearing) nation.
Easily the most shameless of all Jaws rip-off ads, this 1984 commercial for Borateem Bleach visually compares the tumult of doing laundry to a shark killing its prey. Just in case the, um, subtlety of the spot was lost on viewers, Borateem ends the promo with the tagline “the safe great white.” Mayor Vaughn would be proud.
This smarmy parody of the scene in which Jaws makes his first kill was aired to commemorate the return of a disc jockey to the airwaves of Florida’s Love 94. The less said about it, the better.
Super Golden Crisp
Not even the noble Sugar Bear could resist the urge to ride Jaws’ coattails.
I mean, I don’t want to sound like a killjoy, but I find it dubious that sharks even have a sweet tooth. Sweet teeth. Whatever.
Tuna Snack Pots
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Citizen Kane of Jaws inspired ads, courtesy of UK canned fish producer John West. Watch this and do not ask how nor why, just be glad that is exists, and we are alive at the same point in history in which this occurred.
Jaws 3-D Shredded Wheat
How does one go about making shredded wheat cereal exciting? If you are Nabisco in 1983, you attempt to do just this by placing photos from Jaws 3-D (i.e. the one with Dennis Quaid and no raison d’être) on the back of your product’s box. I have no idea how successful this campaign was, but I do think included 3-D glasses were a nice touch.
Weirdly enough, Richard Kiel — who played the Bond villain Jaws — himself starred in a Shredded Wheat commercial, featured above. Coincidence? Well yeah, probably. But nevertheless an interesting note to wrap things up on.
Do you have a favorite shark-themed commercial? Tell us about it below!
This article originally ran last year and is being reprinted as this week’s Throwback Thursday post.