Before Labyrinth, before The Muppets were making appearances on The Orson Welles Show, before Sesame Street sparked a revolution in children’s entertainment, Jim Henson was just a University of Maryland graduate with a B.S. in Home Economics, experimenting with televised puppeteering in five-minute segments on a local NBC affiliate. But like most of us, he still had to find a way to pay the bills. Hence, some of the weirdest and funniest commercials of the 1960s. While most of the ads on TV in that day were still relying on cardboard representations of the nuclear family grinning with acidic alacrirty while they delivered straightforward salutes to prefabricated post-war aspiration, Henson and his felt creations brought something unexpected into the ad world:
…till then, [advertising] agencies believed that the hard sell was the only way to get their message over on television. We took a very different approach. We tried to sell things by making people laugh.
How is this not an episode of Mad Men, yet? Watch below to see Henson getting away with murder (sometimes literally) thanks to a motley crew of adorably lovable irreverent proto-Muppets. And if you’ve got eight minutes to spare, check out this oddball romp of a metafictional behind-the-scenes film looking into the Muppets, Inc. marketing department.