Vintage Sponsor Spots


Throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s, television programs were regularly sponsored by one or maybe two companies, sometimes with a primary sponsor and an alternate sponsor. These companies paid the production costs for the programs and in return were featured more or less exclusively during commercial breaks, although certainly other commercials could be shown as well. There were often integrated commercials featuring the cast that tried to seamlessly work the sponsor’s name and the names of its product(s) into the show. In some cases, the sponsor’s name made it into the title of the program: Hallmark Hall of Fame, Texaco Star Theatre, The Colgate Comedy Hour, Kraft Television Theatre.

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In some cases, a network would be forced to sponsor its own programming and use sponsor spots to promote other network offerings. For example, The Green Hornet sponsor spot is for That Girl; both programs were broadcast by ABC. Likewise, the Jonny Quest sponsor spot is for another ABC series: Broadside. There is also a sponsor spot for ABC’s F-Troop from an unidentified ABC program.

The sponsor spots (also known as “billboards”) in this exhibit are from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. They were typically broadcast at the start of an episode following the opening credits or at the end of an episode prior to the closing credits. Included are spots for Marlboro Cigarettes, Breck Shampoo, Kellogg’s, Twister, Bufferin, Camel Cigarettes and more.

Here’s a rundown of a December 1963 episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show illustrating the placement of a a sponsor spot and an integrated cast commercial:

*Opening Credits
*Act 1
*1st Commercial Break
*Act 2
*2nd Commercial Break
*Tag
*Integrated Cast Commercial
*Sponsor Spot
*Closing Credits

And here’s a similar rundown to a December 1969 episode of My World and Welcome to It:

*Teaser
*Opening Credits
*1st Commercial Break
*Act 1
*2nd Commercial Break
*Act 2
*3rd Commercial Break
*Tag
*Episode Preview
*Sponsor Spot
*Closing Credits

As the cost of producing television programs rose dramatically, television advertising moved to a participation basis, which allowed multiple companies/advertisers to buy commercial time during a television program, with no involvement in production. Shows were no longer sponsored, they were advertiser-supported.

Exhibit Opened August 20th, 2009
Last Updated February 10th, 2016



17 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Well, I can tell you- now that I FINALLY have access to this exhibit, after “technical difficulties” were ironed out- that these “sponsor billboards” were quite common until the early ’70s, and they did appear after the opening title and just before the closing credits {sometimes, AFTER the closing credits as well} of most filmed TV series.
    Where to begin? At random, I guess:

    “THE TWILIGHT ZONE” was primarily sponsored by Liggett & Myers’ Chesterfield in the 1961-’62 season [Colgate-Palmolive was their “alternate sponsor” that season, but dropped out at the beginning of 1962, with “participating sponsors” filling out the alternate weeks until the series was temporarily shelved at the end of the season, as in the example above of the sponsor I.D. for Carter-Wallace’s Arrid Cream Deodorant “sustaining” the show one week in ’62]. Rod Serling even delivered a plug for Chesterfield at the end of his “next week’s preview” [and Maureen knows this, as she’s seen the entire episode WITH the Chesterfield commercials].
    In the 1963-’64 season [when the series reverted back to a half-hour from the previous hour-long season], it was primarily sponsored by American Tobacco’s Pall Mall (but Rod didn’t “plug” the brand at the end of the episodes, because he insisted on NOT doing so, I believe; he still had a cigarette between his fingers at times, because American insisted on it), with Procter & Gamble the “alternate sponsor”. During the closing credits, a pack of Pall Mall or several of Procter & Gamble’s products [Crest, Prell, etc.] appeared in the lower-left hand corner of the screen (eliminated in syndicated prints, of course), as this was the custom of most sponsors at that time to remind viewers exactly WHO was paying for the privilege of bringing “their” show into your living room.

    “ROUTE 66” had two primary sponsors, who sponsored half of each episode: General Motors’ Chevrolet division (one reason why Tod and Buz tooled around in their Chevy Corvette every week), and Philip Morris’ Marlboro {“You get a lot to like in a Marlboro/Fillter, Flavor, Flip-Top (or, pack or) box”} (and now you know why some people during the episode often “lit up” as well).

    “THE PATTY DUKE SHOW” was primarily sponsored by John H. Breck, Inc., makers of Breck shampoo and hair care products [and Patty (and her “twin”) often appeared in an “integrated commercial” for Breck at the end of the episode]. Today, Breck products are marketed by the company behind Dollar Tree stores {Greenbrier Int’l.}, primarily available in those stores.

    The weekly “DISNEY” anthology had several sponsors over the years it was on network TV; Derby Foods, the makers of Peter Pan Peanut Butter, was one of the first (way back in the “DISNEYLAND” era), and continued to be one of their “rotating” sponsors at the time of the above 1960 “WALT DISNEY PRESENTS” sponsor I.D. [Dick Wesson, announcing]. Luden’s was also a “participating sponsor” in the 1960-’61 season, the last on ABC before Walt moved his “franchise” over to NBC in the fall of ’61, as “WALT DISNEY’S WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR”, for new co-sponsors RCA and Eastman Kodak.

    “THE MONKEES” had two sponsors: Kellogg’s [the primary one] and Yardley Cosmetics [the “alternate”]. The boys appeared in “integrated commercials” for both at the end of the show, and the sponsor’s products originally appeared in corners of the closing credits as well.

    “RAWHIDE”, “LARAMIE”, “THE DEFENDERS”, “SHINDIG!”, “KAREN”, “WHERE THE ACTION IS” and “SECRET AGENT” had “participating sponsors”: in fact, I’ve also seen the closing Pillsbury I.D. [different announcer] at the end of a concurrent 1966 “LOST IN SPACE” episode as well. However, “SHINDIG!” had several “regular” sponsors, in which Jimmy O’Neill [and the “Shindig” dancers] often did “integrated” spots for: Sterling Drug’s Stri-Dex, and the American Dairy Association.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Just to give you an example of how “billboards” were an integral part of a TV series, here’s how a “typical” 1961-’62 episode of “THE TWILIGHT ZONE” unfolded:

    1) opening title
    2) episode teaser, with Serling introduction
    3) first billboard- “‘THE TWILIGHT ZONE’- brought to you by…”
    4) first commercial [one minute]
    5) act one of tonight’s story
    6) first transition featuring show title [five seconds]
    7) second commercial [one minute]
    8) act two, with Serling’s coda
    9) second transition, with title- “Rod Serling, creator of ‘THE TWILIGHT ZONE’, will tell you about about next week’s story…after this word from our alternate sponsor.”
    10) alternate sponsor’s message [one minute]
    11) “And now, Mr. Serling”; Rod delivers a preview of next week’s episode, AND a brief “plug” for Chesterfield, if they were the primary sponsor of the episode.
    12) second billboard-“‘THE TWILIGHT ZONE’, has been brought to you by…”
    13) closing credits
    14) sponsor’s tag; when Liggett & Myers was the primary sponsor, they often had James Arness remind viewers, over a “GUNSMOKE” title, to watch his show Saturday night, “over most of these stations” [L&M was their primary sponsor that season]
    15) production tag over “CBS eye wallpaper” {“‘THE TWILIGHT ZONE, Produced by Cayuga Productions, in association with the CBS Television Network”}
    16) network I.D.

  • Steveo says:

    Thanks for posting all of this stuff….The sponsor tie-ins were strong
    back then, and most of the younger folks have no clue that these
    shows were presented in the formats mentioned….Kudos to dvd collections that include as much of the original programing as possible, including the “sponsors” presence!

  • Delbert "Dellie Goose" Hutchinson says:

    How Many TV Shows From The 1950’s And 1960’s Please Name Sponsors

  • Chante says:

    More sponsor spots please…Loved all of these!

    • Chante says:

      Sterling Drug, makers of Phillips Milk of Magnesia and Bayer Aspirin, was also a sponsor of “Route 66”

      • Chante says:

        The original sponsors of The Monkees were Kellogg’s and Yardley of London. I did see sponsorship from Disney and Proctor and Gamble and those were used during the summer hiatus.

  • Aaron Handy III says:

    Yardley of London was also a major sponsor (albeit alternate) of The Monkees.

    • Mike Johnson says:

      I saw a “Monkees” sponsor tag on You Tube for Secret deodorant; I suspect Procter & Gamble also bought time for other products, such as Prell shampoo, which may have had appeal to their audience.

  • Chante says:

    For dobie gillis.1959-1961; Phillip Morris and Pillsbury alternated sponsorship..1961-1962; Phillip Morris and colgate-palmolive alternated sponsorship and 1962-1963 colgate-palmolive and partcipated sponsors alternated.

    My favorite Martian; Kellogg’s the primary sponsor for all three seasons, with the Toni company alternated with Kellogg’for the first 2 seasons. .for the final season. Participating sponsors alternated with Kellogg’s.

    The Donna reed show…Campbell soup was the primary sponsor for the first 7 seasons..the alternates were Shulton (old spice) for the first season, Johnson and Johnson was the alternate for the next three seasons, followed by Nabisco for the next two seasons, finally the Singer company was the alternate for 7th season..the final season were participating sponsors (sometimes the network jumped in on the that).

  • Virgil Baldon, Jr., Louisville. KY says:

    Thank you, Barry! I always prefer the “network strip” versions of old TV shows, with all elements intact as aired…down to the net ID at the end.

  • jeff kantor says:

    Who sponsored CBS’ western, “Trackdown?”

  • Nicolas says:

    I know i probably will not get an answer but i hope someone see this and reply some day.
    Watching 1959 episodes of the twilight zone i noticed at the end they say:
    “Monday nights over most of these stations” when advertising other shows.
    My question is. What does “over most of these stations” means?
    Today a channel would say “on this same channel” or specify which channel.
    I don’t understand if there were only a few channels and all of them showed the same stuff or what? Else why would they say it like that?

    Any idea? Thanks!

    PS: I’m not American so this is probably a stupid question to you all! Sorry!!!

    • Karen Martin says:

      Nicholas, by the 1950s there were hundreds of television stations in the U.S. One or more people or businesses would raise the money to build and equip the station, and they would get a license to broadcast over the airwaves.

      Because they needed lots of shows to broadcast most stations became affiliated with one of the television networks. In the 1950s that would NBC, CBS or ABC. (One of the earliest TV networks, DuMont, was going out of business by the mid-1950s.)

      Now if, for example, a station became a NBC station, it would usually broadcast all the NBC prime time shows. But the stations didn’t have to broadcast all NBC shows. They might decide to broadcast a locally produced show in a certain timeslot, or they might decide to broadcast a syndicated show. (That’s a show not produced by a network, that is sold to any station that wants to broadcast it.)

      So the people at the network couldn’t be sure that every single one of their stations would be broadcasting a certain show. To be one the safe side they would announce that the show would be broadcast over most of their stations.

  • jeff kantor says:

    Did Lucky Strike exclusively sponsor CBS’ western, “Trackdown,” or did they alternate with another company?

  • Delbert "Dellie Goose" Hutchinson says:

    What Were The Sponsors Of Combat,Daniel Boone,The Beverly Hillbillies,The Addams Family,The Munsters,The New Breed,Ben Casey,Mr.Ed,The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,Flipper,Daktari,Cowboy In Africa,
    Jonny Quest,The Farmer’s Daughter,Lost In Space,Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea,The Time Tunnel,Land Of The Giants,Dr.Kildare,The Smothers Brothers Show,The Detectives,Burke’s Law,Honey West,Leave It To Beaver,The Felony Squad,Judd For The Defense,The Legend Of Jesse James,I Spy,The Bill Dana Show,The Joey Bishop Show 1961-65 Sitcom,Love And Marriage 1959-60 Sitcom,Peter Gunn,Mr.Lucky,Thriller,Tales Of Wells Fargo,The Beachcomber,Trackdown,Laverne And Shirley,The Rifleman,The Big Valley,Lassie,The Saint,The Wild,Wild West,The Avengers,M Squad,Philip Marlowe,The Twilight Zone,The Fugitive,Mannix,Court Martial 1965-66 Series,Perry Mason,The Defenders,Blue Light,Batman,The Loner,The Long Hot Summer,The Trials Of O’Brien,The Steve Lawrence Show,The Nurses,For The People,East Side/West Side,Naked City,Route 66,77 Sunset Strip,Maverick,Hawaiian Eye,Surfside 6,Bourbon Street Beat,The Lawman,Colt.45,Adventures In Paradise,Medic,Highway Patrol,The Untouchables,Rawhide,Run For Your Life,Laramie,Laredo,Wagon Train,The Virginian,McHale’s Navy,Gomer Pyle,USMC,Hogan’s Heroes,Richard Diamond,Private Detective,The Saints And Sinners,Target The Corruptors,The June Allyson Show,Johnny Ringo,The Lloyd Bridges Show,The Westerner,The Dick Powell Show,Ensign O’Toole,McKeever And The Colonel,The Rogues,Karen 1964-65 Series,The Real McCoys,Our Miss Brooks,The Millionaire 1955-60 Series,Gunsmoke 50’s And 60’s TV Show Sponsors Of The Successful Gunsmoke TV Series,The Tall Men,Have Gun Will Travel,The Loretta Young Show,The New Loretta Young Show,The Phil Silvers Show 1955-59 Series,The New Phil Silvers Show 1963-64 Series,The Tycoon,Mona McCluskey,And All TV Shows Please Name The
    Sponsors.

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