Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Royal Crown Cola and Movie Stars

Today Royal Crown Cola, also known as "RC Cola," lags far behind Coca-Cola and Pepsi in sales. In fact, I rather suspect that there are some younger people who might never have even heard of RC Cola. While RC Cola might be an also-ran now, from the Forties to the Sixties Royal Crown Cola was a serious competitor to both Coke and Pepsi. In fact, some of the biggest names in Hollywood would appear in advertisements for Royal Crown Cola during the Forties. While both Coca-Cola and Pepsi would use celebrity spokespeople from time to time, neither of them used as many different movie stars as Royal Crown Cola would during that decade. RC Cola would continue to use celebrities in ads during the Fifties and Sixties, but never to the extent that they did in the Forties. What is more, Royal Crown Cola didn't just use celebrities in their magazine ads, but also on calendars and promotional signs as well.

Here I have to point out that Royal Crown's advertisements featuring movie stars promoted more than the cola itself. In every single ad there would also be a plug for the particular movie star's latest film. Below are only a few of the ads for Royal Crown Cola featuring movie stars from the Forties.

This is a Royal Crown ad from 1941 featuring Gary Cooper, who was also promoting his film Ball of Fire (1941).

 This ad from 1942 features Dorothy Lamour promoting Beyond the Blue Horizon (1942).

It was in 1942 that Royal Crown Cola ads began having the stars in the ads announce that Royal Crown was the best (or some variation thereof).  This is one of the earlier versions of those ads, featuring Claudette Colbert who was also promoting The Palm Beach Story (1942).

For the most part Royal Crown Cola seems to have favoured actresses in their advertising during the Forties, but a few actors appeared as well. Here is singer, actor, and radio star Bing Crosby and his horse promoting Road to Utopia (1945).

In this ad from 1945 Linda Darnell is promoting her film Fallen Angel (1945).

 Here is another ad from 1945, this one with Gene Tierney promoting A Bell for Adano (1945).

In this ad from 1946 Lizabeth Scott is promoting The Strange Love of Martha Ives (1946)

Barbara Stanwyck appeared in more than one ad for Royal Crown Cola. In this one from 1946 she is promoting her film My Reputation (1946).

So far I have done the various Royal Crown Cola ads by year. These next two are then slightly out of order, but that is because I wanted to save the best for last. Even people who aren't that familiar with classic movies know about Joan Crawford's strong ties to Pepsi. In 1955 she married PepsiCo executive Alfred Steele and afterwards she became Pepsi's fiercest promoter. Miss Crawford would even demand product placement for Pepsi in her movies! It might then come as a surprise to some that in the Forties Joan Crawford was one of the many movie stars who appeared in ads for Royal Crown Cola! What is more, she did it more than once. Here is an ad in which Joan Crawford is promoting Hollywood Canteen (1944).

And here is another ad from 1946 in which Joan Crawford is promoting Humoresque (1946).  I have to think that if Bette Davis had known about the ads Joan Crawford had done for Royal Crown Cola in the Forties, she would have taped them to the Pepsi machine Joan had installed on the set of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962)!

This is only a small sampling of Royal Crown Cola's advertisements featuring movie stars from the Forties. They did many, many more. And as mentioned earlier, some stars would appear in multiple ads. RC Cola continued to use celebrities in advertisements in the Fifties and Sixties. Rhonda Fleming and game show host Robert Q. Lewis appeared in advertising for Royal Crown Cola in the Fifties. In the Sixties RC Cola ads featured Petticoat Junction star Meredith MacRae and singer Nancy Sinatra. While RC Cola would continue to use celebrities in the Fifties and Sixties, it would never be to the extent that they did in the Forties.

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