Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Word From Our Sponsor, Top Cat

Hanna-Barbera characters hawked food, vitamins, cigarettes and fire safety (perhaps the last two cancel each other). No doubt you’ve seen those commercials over the years. But there are some you haven’t seen—if you live in North America.

The Royal Bank of Scotland employed Top Cat and his gang in its television ad campaign in 1983. Someone has posted several of the spots on-line. The ads were animated at Hanna-Barbera. Best of all, they feature the voices of Arnold Stang and Marvin Kaplan, and someone doing Benny and Officer Dibble who I should be able to name. The originals, Maurice Gosfield (1964) and Allen Jenkins (1974) were dead when these ads were produced. As a bonus, they’re backed with the familiar music of Hoyt Curtin. In fact, in a couple of the ads, it sounds like the music’s going to launch into the Kellogg’s jingle. There’s a laugh track to add a retro feeling.

I have no idea who the animator or director was on these, but here they are:







The Bank of Scotland offered its own Top Cat stuff, too—a piggy kitty bank. Made of real plastic! Click to enlarge.



T.C. wasn’t the only Hanna-Barbera character shilling in the U.K. So were the Flintstones in this spot for an insurance company. Mark Christiansen animated a couple of scenes on this and Scott Jeralds did the character layouts and storyboard. See Scott’s note in the comment section.

The animation goes by a little quickly at times for me but the characters look great and I would have loved to have seen Fred’s car squash and stretch like this in the original cartoons. Whoever is doing the dying Flintmobile is evoking a bit of Mel Blanc as Jack Benny’s recalcitrantly-starting Maxwell.



If anyone has any additional insight about the spots, especially if they worked on these, please post it in the comment section.


Yowp thanks Chris S. for providing the links.

12 comments:

  1. Love it!!! You're right. I never saw these in the " states ". The Hoyt Curtin cues and the laugh track did give it that " retro " feel. Good thing they were able to get Stang and Kaplan. Too bad Jenkins and Gosfield had passed by that time.

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  2. To my eye, it looks like the Top Cat spots may have been drawn by the same crew that worked on the 1985 Jetsons revival, as the characters' movements and expressions are similar to those. While it's hard to tell with the picture quality of the clips, the brightness of the colors looks like these were colored with HB's computer coloring system used on those Jetsons shows as well.

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  3. Speaking of Top Cat, I was wondering if you had posted any Top Cat model sheets or if there are any.

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  4. Love the bank ads. I wonder what the Bank of Scotland was thinking! Normally cats don't have ATM cards, and certainly crooked conniving cats like Top Cat wouldn't have one. Oh, he might have an ATM card, but it wouldn't be his own. When I watched it, I literally reached for my wallet to make sure my bank card was still there!

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  5. Amanda, I suspect someone has copies. I don't. I may have some newspaper publicity art somewhere.

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  6. Yowp: those are just great. I love TC and the gang more than most of the other HB characters.
    Jack

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  7. I was just thinking about Top Cat's 50th, the day that this article appeared, after that Flinstone article, and was glad to see another TC article.Enjoyed that clip.Thanks very much for the story.:) Steve

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  8. When Arnold Stang reprised the role in 1985's YOGI'S TREASURE HUNT and 1988's TOP CAT AND THE BEVERLY HILLS CATS he sounded rather high-pitched (and with much less of a New York accent), making him sound more like Herman the Mouse. I attributed that to his age. But in these 1983 spots, he sounds exactly like vintage 1961-62 T.C.

    The FLINTSTONES spot has a generous helping of classic H-B SFX, which became more and more scarce in the studios' cartoons by 1990. And many of the Post Cereal ads made through the 70s and 80s didn't look or sound like H-B cartoons at all. So this spot is a breath of fresh air.

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  9. i did the storyboard and layout the flintstone spot....the animation was done mostly by h.b./ mgm alum lefty callahan....we did a lot of commercials around the late 80's early 90's...also did a jetsons cereal commercial....i'll see if i can find it....not sure about the top cat spots...if the studio did them....they were done before i got there....

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  10. I'm not 100% sure of this but the replacement voices in the Top Cat spots sound to me like Joe Baker. It wouldn't surprise me if he was the announcer at the end, too.

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  11. Too bad the ads are gone now. I see the guy got the boot sooner or later for providing us with all those ads. I probably saved those Top Cat ones on a disc someplace but I'm not in the mood to go looking for 'em now.

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  12. It's asinine that someone would object to free advertising.

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