I don’t know about you, but commercials can often take me back to my formative years as quickly as any song or movie can. That is why we will continue this semi-regular feature on ’80s commercials that I consider particularly memorable, noteworthy, or forgotten. Television commercials were much more influential back when we were forced to watch them without the luxury to fast-forward through and/or stream shows with limited or no interruptions. This issue will cover the The Crest Team vs. The Cavity Creeps commercials from the late ’70s into the early ’80s.
If you grew up watching cartoons on Saturday morning or after school during the week back in the late ’70s into the early ’80s, you probably remember The Cavity Creeps. These commercials had a profound impact on me and are probably part of the reason I still use Crest toothpaste to this day. The American Dental Association along with every brand of toothpaste had the ongoing challenge of finding ways to get kids to brush their teeth regularly. What better way than using a superhero comic book coming to life in the form of a cartoon to get their message across? Every time I saw those commercials, which was quite regularly back in the day, I felt a sense of pride that I was using Crest and thus part of the Crest Team.
Crest toothpaste debuted in test markets across the U.S. in 1955, boasting the active ingredient Fluoristan, a Procter & Gamble Co. trade name for a combination of stannous fluoride and a fluoride-compatible polishing agent. In 1960, the American Dental Association confirmed that Crest effectively prevented tooth decay. And by 1962, Crest had become the best-selling toothpaste in the United States. The Benton & Bowles advertising agency created many commercials over the years to promote Crest and help keep that spot as the top brand of toothpaste. In particular, the animated commercials they developed targeting kids beginning in the late ’70s featuring The Crest Team fighting the Cavity Creeps were quite genius.
These commercials were written and produced by Gregory Sinnott and animated by the Zander Animation Studio and later Phil Kimmelman & Associates. The commercials were developed by comic book artist Herb Trimpe, who did all of the concept art and character models for the Crest Team, the Cavity Creeps, and their environments. Trimpe is most often remembered for his work at Marvel comics, particularly his run on The Incredible Hulk in the ’70s among a lot of other work for Marvel. The commercials were narrated by Jackson Beck who was a voice actor best known as the announcer on radio’s The Adventures of Superman and the voice of “Bluto” in the old Popeye theatrical shorts but continued to work in film, animation, and commercials for over 60 years.
The commercials featured The Crest Team using various Crest vehicles and weapons to defend the city of “Toothopolis”, an island city protected by an enormous wall of teeth, from rampaging monsters known as “Cavity Creeps”. Those “Cavity Creeps” were a group of grey-colored, rocky humanoid creatures that would chant “We Make Holes In Teeth!” The Crest Team would defeat the creeps time and time again plus encourage kids at the end of each commercial to “watch treats and see your dentist” so they could fight cavities “like the Crest Team”.
Here are several of these commercials which began in the late ’70s and continued to run at least until the early ’80s [WARNING: you may feel the urge to brush your teeth after watching these!]…
By 1981, gel toothpaste started to become popular. Gels grew to 32% of the total market in 1981 (from just 8% in 1970). At first, Close-Up, Aim, and Aqua Fresh were the dominant brands when it came to gel toothpaste. Crest quickly corrected that and took back major market share in the gel toothpaste category with the help of the following commercials…
They re-made the original submarine and cannon commercials changing them to promote Crest Gel…
There you go, another trip down memory lane in the form of TV commercials. These commercials helped convince me as a kid that brushing my teeth was important and I was proud that I was using the same toothpaste that they used to fight off those nasty Cavity Creeps. Now, these commercials bring me back to those awesome Saturday mornings watching cartoons when even the commercials were part of the entertainment.
More Retro Commercial Features on TRN
- Bob Uecker for Miller Lite
- Grey Poupon Mustard
- Wendy’s Where’s the Beef
- Seagram’s Wine Coolers with Bruce Willis
- Snoopy For MetLife