21 Ads That (Almost) Make You Miss the ’80s

Grating jingles, DayGlo wardrobes, shrill child actors, cheesy dance montages. If you wanted annoying, you could find it in the TV-commercial breaks of the 1980s. But today, 21 years removed from that decade of regrettable advertising, a few spots from the era do manage to spark a glimmer of misty-eyed nostalgia. AdFreak sifted through the morass and picked 21 such relative bright spots—presented here for your enjoyment. No, these aren't the best ads of the '80s, so don't expect Apple's "1984" or Wendy's "Where's the beef?" We also bypassed enduring earworms like "My Buddy." These are just ads that, for better or worse, made us smile in looking back at them—a glimpse of a simpler time when, occasionally, it wasn't so bad when Knight Rider went to commercial.

  1. Apple IIc

    "You Can Take It Home"

    Click to view. Hard to believe, but there was a time when "the computer wizards at Apple" actually competed with PCs on both performance and price instead of just style and usability. Yes, when this 1984 spot debuted for the Apple IIc, nothing said "must have" quite like 10,000 sweet-ass floppy discs and a price point of $1,300. That's a mere $2,700 in today's dollars, not counting the monitor and optional mouse, of course.

  2. Carvel

    "Cupie the Chocolate Nut"

    Click to view. When science finally invents the time machine, I'll be the first in line—holding a spoon and waiting to eat a cloppy frozen turd pile at Carvel. Sure, the chain still exists (it's even been referenced recently on both How I Met Your Mother and 30 Rock), but I doubt its menu will ever reach such heights as Cupie ("Yeah, he's back!") the Chocolate Nut.

  3. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

    "Who Broke My Window?"

    Click to view. Like many children of the '80s, I was first exposed to the Mormon Church through its copious TV advertising, which usually took the form of simple morality lessons. This one, nominated by AdFreak reader Michael Ratty, is nothing short of a Park Slope mini-opera featuring a young Carlton Banks (née Alfonso Ribeiro), who also showed off his dancing chops in another classic '80s ad alongside Michael Jackson.

  4. Coca-Cola

    "You Can't Beat the Feeling"

    Click to view. The '80s were just so darn exciting that the only way to get all that enthusiasm out of your body was to DANCE! One gets the feeling that spandex and leotards were practically required garb, even at the Plymouth Duster factory.

  5. Commodore Amiga


    Click to view. Commodore packed an incredible amount of '80s star power into this spot for the underappreciated Amiga. But the ending always leaves me wondering. Was there a Tip O'Neill's Congressional Combat 9000 game I missed out on?

  6. Coors Light

    "At the Silver Bullet Tonight"

    Click to view. You know what I love about this ad, other than the hair and the outfits? You just don't see a lot of commercials where people actually know the bartender. Maybe it's seen as a negative to imply that someone's a regular (aka, an alcoholic), but it gives this Coors Light spot a folksy charm that just wouldn't fly now.

  7. Diet Pepsi

    "New Neighbor"

    Click to view. Michael J. Fox braves a mild rain, Kenny Loggins style guitar riffs and the world's least scary biker gang just to impress his new neighbor. The potential threesome at the end shows that this night may be starting with Diet Pepsi, but it's clearly going to end with coke.

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