Friends, a couple of days I shared with you that Atari is going to be releasing a new version of 1980’s Missile Command at some point this Spring – entitled Missile Command:Recharged. While I will most assuredly be picking up this new version of the classic game – in that same article I stated that the original version is without a doubt one of my favorite arcade games. Even as an eight-year-old I was digging the quickly escalating tension of trying to save my six cities from the horrible fate of nuclear annihilation… a concern a lot of us kids had back then – that was three years before we saw The Day After too!
I am thankful that I have quite a few fond memories of the Golden Age of arcade games as well as home consoles – that is the reason for the Diary of an Arcade Employee podcast after all. One of the greatest thrills though is when video games really began to take off and make their way into the mainstream of pop culture – when you would see advertisements for Dig-Dug and the likes of animated Intellivision commercials in theaters before the movie started.
Over the years I have caught a few television advertisements that slipped under my radar back in my youth – one of those is this 1981 Missile Command commercial featuring Christopher Hewett of Mr. Belvedere fame. While it would be four more years before Hewett would appear as Lynn Belvedere – in this commercial he is a four-star general who is apparently well known at the local arcade. This TV commercial also serves to let video game enthusiasts know that they can play Missile Command at home thanks to the Atari VCS.
Hewett is a little more maniacal than this his role in Mr. Belvedere, wouldn’t you say? Now I found about this Missile Command commercial thanks to the April – May issue of Atari Coin Connection, a trade newsletter for arcade operators – letting them know all the important stuff that Atari was doing at the time. That Newsletter article also pointed out that a radio spot was being released at the same time as the TV ad:
“In a first-time test to measure the impact of TV advertising, ATARI has produced a 30-second television spot featuring Coin-op Missile Command and introducing the home video cartridge version of the game. A 60-second radio commercial has been recorded which will be aired to coincide with the TV ad.
The Commercials are scheduled to begin running at the end of May and continue for four week period in Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh.
Collections in selected locations will be monitored in these cities and compared with “control” cities with no TV and radio advertising to determine the effect on play activity. Awareness levels of the ATARI name will also be checked.
If successful, future planning will include further cooperative commercials promoting both Coin-op and home video games to help build your business by increasing player interest.”
Pretty cool, right? We have a Missile Command TV commercial that wasn’t widely seen and as a bonus it features the future Mr. Belvedere. I am curious though – did you ever catch this particular television ad back in the day?