The Happiness Project

A chronicle of my attempts to test-drive every tip, principle and scientific study that promotes happiness

Happiness Is...Reminscing about Terrific Old TV Ads.

It all starts with coffee and a friend...

I love getting the chance to meet friends from blogland in real life, and on Sunday, I had coffee with Meagan Francis, of The Happiest Mom fame. It's so funny in these situations -- we'd never met before, and I felt like we could've talked all afternoon, it was so much fun.

Among other topics, she told me she’d seen my TV ad, which got us talking about commercials that made us very emotional.

We happily reminisced about the “Homefront” public-service ads that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ran on TV during the 1970s and 80s. Those ads were so powerful. She and I could both remember them well, and in fact, we both choked up while recounting them!

Meagan remembered best the ad where the father started to yell at his kids playing in the mud, then instead jumped in to play with them. I remembered the ad that opened with a husband and wife yelling at each other, then showed the husband surprising his wife at work, in the classroom where she taught, and writing, “I’m sorry” a hundred times on her blackboard. If I remember correctly, the tagline was, “Love lasts when you put your family first.”

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I went back on YouTube to look for them. I couldn’t find those two, but here are a few others; unfortunately, they aren't as good as ones we remembered:

“Power Out” – worth watching for the hairstyles alone

“Who Broke My Window?”

The public-service ad that I remember most clearly of all is the Schoolhouse Rock segment on “The Preamble.” It came in handy not only in high school, when I had to memorize the Preamble to the Constitution, but again in law school (where I often found myself wishing that Schoolhouse Rock had done a segment about the Constitutional Amendments).

"The Preamble"

Gosh, speaking of powerful ads from days of yore, what about that Yul Brynner ad about quitting smoking? I just looked it up on YouTube this minute. Until now, I’d only seen this ad once in my life, and I remembered it practically verbatim.

"Don't smoke."

I was trying to figure out why it gives me such a feeling of happiness to reflect on these ads. In part, it’s the nature of the messages, and also nostalgia for childhood associations, but also, I think, the happiness that comes from seeing a piece of work that's very well done. For such a short message to be so well crafted that it’s remembered for decades – it makes me happy to see such great craftsmanship, in any arena.

Do you remember an ad that roused particularly strong or happy emotions?

* Trying to figure out a good Mothers' Day gift? Please consider The Happiness Project. Remember that old saying! "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, a book and a blog about her adventures learning to be happier.

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