Retro Commercials: Polaroid Instant Camera for Christmas

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 some Polaroid Instant Camera Christmas commercials.

Thanks to digital cameras, kids nowadays don’t know cameras without the convenience of seeing your pictures instantly. It has been many years since most of us have had to worry about having “film developed” so that you can see if a picture turned out or not. Polaroid is the company that pioneered and became synonymous with the instant camera which first reached the market in 1948. This technology allowed you to take a picture, have it pop out the front of the camera and then develop right in front of your eyes in a matter of minutes.

Back in 1981, the Muppets appeared in a number of commercials for Polaroid cameras in a campaign helping reinforce their slogan “Polaroid means fun”. I remember one particular commercial featuring many of the Muppet characters with Kermit giving Fozzie Bear a Polaroid camera for Christmas. In case you never saw it or need your memory refreshed, here is the Polaroid commercial for “Fozzie’s Christmas Present”

Polaroid Instant Camera

Then there is another ’80s Polaroid Christmas commercial that I remember even more fondly. It is the one where two clever kids set up a camera to get proof that Santa indeed came and left them presents, but ol’ Santa is too quick for them and foils their plan. I believe that this commercial debuted in 1985 and I do remember it being used at least for a couple years. The narrator states, “Perhaps more than any other time of year, this is the season when millions of people discover… Polaroid cameras do what no other kind of camera can do.” Here is that Polaroid commercial…

Further related to Christmas, the pictures taken at the mall of children sitting on Santa’s lap were most likely taken with a Polaroid instant camera as recently as the late-90s. As I said, over time, the Polaroid name became more or less synonymous with the instant photograph. In 1986, Polaroid defeated Kodak in a patent battle that forced Kodak to leave the instant camera business altogether. Polaroid did not seem to keep up with the times and, as digital cameras came to dominate the category, ultimately filed for bankruptcy in 2001 and ceased making those namesake instant cameras by 2007. Eventually, in May 2017, the brand and intellectual property of Polaroid Corporation were acquired by another company renamed Polaroid Originals and later in March 2020 was renamed to simply Polaroid. The instant camera has become a trendy thing again, but the quality of camera included on phones now makes Polaroid more of a novelty.

There you go, another trip down memory lane in the form of TV commercials. For me, the Polaroid instant camera certainly remains a distinct memory from my childhood. And those ’80s Christmas commercials are undoubtedly a reason for the nostalgia.

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Old School Tim has an adoring devotion to the awesome '80s decade. He loves to relive and share that nostalgia on a regular basis. The Kickin' it Old School blog site has been retired, but you can still get daily doses of '80s goodness on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and anywhere else they let him.