The Internet Archive is a great place to find all kinds of old media that is either in the public domain or is available for use through Creative Commons licensing. For example, I recently shared a collection of thousands of LEGO guides available on the Internet Archive. Another example that I’ve recently discovered is a huge collection of old television commercials.
The Internet Archive’s Classic T.V. Commercials collection contains more than 17,000 old commercials dating back to the 1950s! They’re all available to view online and most are available to download as MP4 files. You can search through the collection according to keyword, year, language, and producer.
Some of the commercials that jumped out to me as I browsed the collection include an old Frosted Flakes commercial, a commercial for the 1966 Ford Mustang, and a 1996 Athlete’s Foot commercial made for back-to-school season. That last one is embedded below.
Applications for Education
My first thought when looking through these old commercials was to use them as little case studies in changes in the value of celebrity endorsements. Then when I came across the old Athlete’s Foot commercial I thought that it, and other short commercials like it, could be fun to use as little non sequitur bumpers between sections of a video or podcast. Finally, I thought some more about it and realized that commercials could be the impetus for research into whether or not or how much a commercial helped sell the featured product.