Remembering Stan Freberg, funny adman
April 7, 2015
You may not be familiar with the name Stan Freberg.
But you were undoubtedly familiar with his work.
Freberg, who died Tuesday in Los Angeles at age 88, was the man behind the TV ad in which author Ray Bradbury denied predicting everyone would one day eat prunes.
And the man behind the pizza roll commercial that featured “The William Tell Overture” and the guy who played the Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore.
He once famously wrote an eight-minute musical number for the radio that, it turned out, was actually an advertisement. No one said the words “Butternut Coffee” until the ad was nearly over.
People called him the father of the funny ad, and they were right. Until Freberg, most advertisers dared not use humor in their commercials.
Freberg didn’t just make people laugh, though. He pushed boundaries, and he often got celebrities to do it with him. At times there was backlash, with people complaining he was wasting the stars’ time.
But over the years many in media came to see that humor could be an extremely effective vehicle for advertising. And today Freberg’s influence can be seen from chortle-inducing ads in the Super Bowl to wacky animals hocking insurance.
While Freberg was best known for writing commercials, he dabbled in voiceovers and acting, playing a recurring guest role on “Roseanne” in the 1990s.
He also voiced characters on “The Bugs Bunny Show” and “Ren & Stimpy.”
Freberg died from complications from pneumonia.
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