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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

12 TV Commercials You Might Not Realize Were Made by Pixar

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

During Pixar’s early days, the company was a hardware and software computer company that sold to commercial graphics and visualization markets. However, the computers and software were so expensive and advanced that Pixar was losing money on the business, so Steve Jobs—who was a majority shareholder—wanted the burgeoning studio to make commercials for other companies to generate more income.

Pixar hired Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter, two young animators who would go on to direct feature films like Finding Nemo and Inside Out, to help create new TV commercials. As a result of the new venture, the future animation giant made an additional $2 million a year that helped grow the company. Here are 11 TV commercials you might not have known were made by Pixar Animation Studios.

1. TROPICANA

In 1989, John Lasseter directed and Ralph Guggenheim produced “Wake Up,” a 30-second TV spot, for Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice. The pair later went on to make Toy Story (1995).

2. LIFE SAVERS HOLES

Lasseter also directed “Babies” (a.k.a. “Playground” or “The Park”) for Life Savers Holes in 1990.

3. COCA-COLA

In 1995—the same year that Pixar released Toy Story—Bob Peterson directed “Pin Box” for Coca-Cola. He would later co-direct Up (2009) with Pete Docter and co-write A Bug's Life (1998),Toy Story 2 (1999), Finding Nemo (2003), Inside Out (2015), The Good Dinosaur (2015), and the upcoming Finding Dory for Pixar.

4. HERSHEY'S

In 1996, Steve Segal (not that one) and Dave Feiten co-directed “The Tastetations” for Hershey’s.

5. TETRA PAK

Docter directed “Lunchbox” for food packaging company Tetra Pak in 1991. Ten years later, he directed Monsters, Inc. (2001).

6. CALIFORNIA LOTTERY

In 1990, animator Flip Phillips directed “Dancing Cards” for the California Lottery.

7. TRIDENT

At the age of 25, Andrew Stanton directed “Quite a Package” (a.k.a. “Piano”) for Trident gum in 1990. In 2004, he won his first Oscar, for Best Animated Feature for Finding Nemo. In 2009, he took home another Oscar in the same category for WALL·E.

8. VOLKSWAGEN

Also in 1990, Stanton directed “La Nouvelle Polo” for Volkswagen for French TV. The commercial also served as a precursor to A Bug’s Life, which was released eight years later.

9. PILLSBURY

Pixar animators Henry Selick and Flip Phillips co-directed “Pump” for Pillsbury in 1990. Selick would later direct The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and Coraline. He also created the stop-motion animation for Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

10. IBM

Animator Henry Anderson III directed a commercial for IBM via Pixar in 1992. Anderson would later take up jobs as the animation director for Mousehunt and Stuart Little, which was adapted by M. Night Shyamalan.

11. TOYS ‘R’ US

In 1991, Stanton directed “Grand Opening” for Toys "R" Us. The ad was produced by Karen Robert Jackson, who also—quite fittingly—produced Toy Story 2 for Pixar.

12. LEVI’S

In 1996, Shawn Krause directed “Shake It” for Levi’s. Kori Rae produced the commercial, which earned a CLIO Award. Currently, Krause and Rae are still at Pixar as a supervising animator and producer, respectively.

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Amy Meredith, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
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You Can Still Visit This Forgotten Flintstones Theme Park in Arizona
Amy Meredith, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Amy Meredith, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Like many pop culture institutions of the 20th century, Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones hasn’t been relegated to just one medium. The animated cast of America's favorite modern Stone Age family sold cigarettes, starred in a live-action 1994 film, and inspired all sorts of merchandise, including video games and lunchboxes. In 1972, it also got the theme park treatment.

Bedrock City, located 30 minutes from the Grand Canyon in Williams, Arizona, was the brainchild of Linda and Francis Speckels, a married couple who bought the property and turned it into a 6-acre tourist attraction. Concrete houses were built to resemble the Flintstone and Rubble residences and are furnished with props; a large metal slide resembles a brontosaurus, so kids can mimic the show’s famous title credits sequence; and statues of the characters are spread all over the premises. The site also doubles as an RV campground and parking site.

A Flintstones theme park house
Matthew Dillon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A statue of Bam-Bam at the Flintstones park in Arizona
Matthew Dillon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A statue of Wilma Flintstone at Bedrock City in Arizona
Matthew Dillon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When it first opened, Bedrock City employed actors to stay in character, but the remote location proved challenging to retain both employees and visitors. Over the past four decades, it's had a steady stream of tourists, but not enough to turn a huge profit. Atlas Obscura reports the attractions are in various stages of disrepair.

Linda Speckels put the property up for sale in 2015 with an asking price of $2 million, but it has yet to sell. One possible hold-up: The new owner would have to negotiate a fresh licensing deal with Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. for the right to continue using the show’s trademarks. (A separate Flintstones park in South Dakota, owned by another member of the Speckels family, was sold and closed in 2015.) With its proximity to the Canyon, the 30 total acres could be converted into almost anything, from a mall to a golf course. For Flintstones enthusiasts, the hope is that the park’s unique attractions won’t be reduced to rubble.

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Watch Terry Gilliam's 1968 Animated Christmas Card
Carlo Allegri/Getty Images
Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

In 1968, future Monty Python member Terry Gilliam was kicking around London, working as an animator. He was asked to put together an animated segment for a Christmas show, so he hopped over to the Tate and photocopied a bunch of Victorian Christmas cards for inspiration. The resulting film, The Christmas Card, is brilliant, bizarre, and delightful. Enjoy some pre-Python madness from the master:

If you liked that, check out Terry Gilliam explaining his animation technique in 1974.

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