Chubby Checker's Lost "Dig Dug" Atari Commercial

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YouTube / ScottithGames

In 1982, Chubby Checker recorded a song about Dig Dug, the classic Atari game, for a commercial. Checker's "Twist"-style recording was not used in the commercial—it appears to have been re-recorded by somebody else—though it's unclear why.

Three days ago, Matt Osborne (son of the late Atari VP of Marketing Don Osborne) posted the song online for the first time. Here it is on SoundCloud:

(Compare to Checker's hit "The Twist." The similarities are obvious, though hearing Checker describe Dig Dug gameplay is pretty trippy.)

Matt Osborne wrote:

My father, Don Osborne, was the Vice President of Marketing of ATARI's Coin-op division at the time and he brought this home one day for us to listen to. I'm not sure how I actually ended up with it, but he may have lent it to me and I just never gave it back or he never asked for it to be returned. The only info that I have about it was that ATARI had envisioned a somewhat '50's styled take on the song, inspired, in part, by Chubby Checker's hit "The Twist." At the time that I'd heard the song and had got possession of the tape, it was fully intended that Chubby's song would be used in the final commercial. It's been over 30 years, that and I was about 13 at the time, so details are fuzzy, but I remember my father being extra excited that Chubby was involved in the project and had great things to say about having met him. After that, I don't recall why his [song] was eventually dropped in lieu of the one in the final cut of the commercial. The only thing that makes sense is that Chubby might have appealed to a much older audience and not the one that the commercial was targeted towards, so they eventually [chose] a younger representation for the band singing the song. Still, try going online and digging up any history, or even a mention of Chubby's involvement, and you will find very little. I'd love to know more myself, so please share if you find anything out.

Compare the audio above with the (Clio Award-winning) commercial as it actually aired:

The song is present, but the singer is not Chubby Checker. What's up with that?

So, people on the internet, it's your move. Does anyone know the true story of why Chubby Checker's vocals were not used in the final Dig Dug commercial? (I suppose we could just ask Chubby Checker; he's 72 and still performing.)

If you're not sure what this game is, or want a heavy dose of nostalgia, you can play Dig Dug online courtesy of The Internet Archive. Watch out for rocks!

September 3, 2014 - 7:33am
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