The Art of the Sell — Jeno’s Pizza Rolls

These posts celebrate the movie trailers, movie posters, commercials, print ads, and other promotional material that stand as their own works of art.

Stan Freberg had already achieved significant success with his comedy records on the pop charts — not to mention some notable turns in movies and television — when he turned his attention to advertising. Launched in the late nineteen-fifties, Freberg Limited adopted the mocking Latin motto “Ars gratia pecuniae,” which roughly translated to “Art for money’s sake.” Although he originally faced resistance from potential clients, a campaign for the Asian food brand Chun King sent sales soaring by twenty percent in the first year alone. Nothing overcomes skepticism like booming profits; Freberg was soon highly sought after for his ability to concoct commercials that stood out for their inventiveness and audacity.

In the late nineteen-sixties, when Freberg was hired by the Italian food company Jeno’s to promote their new unorthodox product pizza rolls, Freberg knew he’d need something especially attention-getting. In Freberg’s estimation, no one had heard of the company and this odd new food item wasn’t an easy sell either. He and his cohorts alit on the idea of spoofing a previous commercial campaign for Lark cigarettes that used the William Tell Overture with some especially energetic visuals. Freberg set the commercial in a posh event where tuxedoed gourmands discard more traditional hors d’oeuvres in nearby potted plants so they can gobble down pizza rolls instead. The commercial is a delight, right down to the the double whammy punchline of complaints registered by individuals who feel a certain amount of ownership of the classical music piece that charges through the ad.

Freberg claimed more than twenty Clio awards for his commercials throughout his career. The Jeno’s ad is fine testament to worthiness of those trophy wins.

Other entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Art of the Sell” tag.

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