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  • Writer's pictureMichael Jacoby

Video Taped Commercial Breaks from the Year 2010

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

As you get older, time seems to be going faster. When you’re younger, the school week seemed to drag on before finally reaching the weekend, and Sunday would eventually come to an end for a new week to start and the whole process to start over. As you age and reach high school, the end of the decade, which you thought would take forever to arrive, was suddenly getting closer and closer. Ultimately, as you become an adult, it feels as if the whole decade seems to be zooming past you, ending almost immediately.

The last part is how I feel about the 2010s. It seems only yesterday that I graduated high school and was about to start my first term of college (all with online courses!), even though I was part of the class of 2010. Many changes have occurred since then, ranging from politics to technology. Most notable political changes include a decade-long societal shift further right. Major technological advancements had the introduction of flat-screen widescreen TV sets that everybody has. I myself didn’t join the widescreen TV craze until Christmas of 2012, when I got one along with a Blu-Ray player. Until then, I still had a smaller, CRT television set that was hooked up to a DVD player and separate VCR unit, the latter of which I’ve had since around 2002.

I still recorded programs on VHS all through the 2000s to the start of the following decade. I recorded some Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network programming (mainly Invader Zim and Sheep in the Big City on their respective networks). I also recorded network TV airings of Harry Potter movies, whether on ABC or its sister network ABC Family, usually whenever behind-the-scenes footage of the upcoming film would appear during commercial breaks, or just because I felt like it.

One example of the latter was when I recorded an airing of Prisoner of Azkaban in December 2010, during the Harry Potter Weekend portion of ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas block. I got Azkaban when it originally came out on DVD on November 23, 2004, but sadly, only in a Pan-and-Scan fullscreen format. As I didn’t have a widescreen TV yet when programs were starting to air in the 16x9 aspect ratio, I noticed that there would be black bars on the top and bottom of the screen, simulating the widescreen format, and when I discovered Azkaban would air in late 2010, I took my chance and recorded it on the same tape I have of part of an episode of Noggin’s The URL With Phred Show and some Sheep episodes.

For years, I had forgotten about the Azkaban recording until late 2015/early 2016, shortly after I had received a tape-to-digital converter for Christmas. I converted the ad breaks into digital files and uploaded them to YouTube a few days later, not long after the death of Alan Rickman, the first of many 2016 deaths of beloved celebrities, and ABC Family changing its name to Freeform, most likely losing the references to “family” because they were airing less and less family-oriented programming.

When uploading the ad breaks in early 2016, I didn’t remember the original date of the recording, only that it was in December 2010. It wasn’t until November 18, 2018 that I discovered the recording time, the airing from 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM on Sunday December 5, 2010. In November 2018, I searched online for the schedule for the 25 Days of Christmas block for 2010 and found some sites with the schedule. As you’ll see in the ads, there are many references to Order of the Phoenix airing “tonight at 9/8 Central.” Looking at the schedule, I’ve found that Phoenix only aired once, on Sunday December 5, 2010 at 9 PM Eastern time. It lined up with the frequent references to Phoenix airing “tonight at 9/8 Central.”

I distinctly remember recording it in the evening so I wouldn’t have to miss Big Brother, but I guess I was mistaken. A family member’s birthday was that day, so maybe I recorded Azkaban so that I didn’t have to miss it during the birthday festivities. But the airing was in the mid-afternoon and would end just half an hour after dinner. I’m guessing I’m misremembering based upon the available evidence.

Back in 2010, meanwhile, things were different. Obama was starting to turn out too underwhelming in spite of his first presidential campaign (causing disappointment and anger towards the left from the general public), leading the GOP to act worse by getting fully absorbed with birtherism and the Tea Party and basically going full-blown boomer-con (causing horror and repulsion towards the right to apparently only me). Touchscreen phones were on the rise, and HD widescreen TVs were starting to come out. Major movies released that year included the anticipated and stupendous (seeming) finale Toy Story 3, the beginning of the (seeming) end of the Potter franchise with Deathly Hallows Part 1, Despicable Me (debuting future boomer-con meme fodder, the fucking Minions), a surprise, smart, and engaging success for DreamWorks with How to Train Your Dragon, Christopher Nolan’s fantastic mind-trip known as Inception, and Tim Burton’s digital drug trip adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. I had just graduated high school that summer and was finishing up my first term at college, all online courses, by the time of recording. Also, the world learned that Juggalos didn’t know how magnets functioned.

Please note that while I may comment on most of the commercials featured, I won’t comment on every single one, as I don’t have anything much to say about them and will only feature advertisements about which I can say things. To view all the advertisements, watch the videos that start off the sections.

The first ad break starts off after Harry arrives at the Leaky Cauldron and Fudge says to him, “Oh, and Harry, while you’re here, it’s best if you didn’t, uh...wander [or wonder].”

It starts off with an ABC Family bumper advertising first looks and behind the scenes material for the newest Chronicles of Narnia movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, throughout the Harry Potter weekend event. The voyage refers to that of a ship, the Dawn Treader. I have a question: When typing the name of a piece of fiction, you usually italicize it, but you also italicize the names of ships, so when you have a title for a piece of fiction that contains the name of the ship, do you leave the ship’s name italicized with the title or do you leave it alone?

Nobody bother answering that question. I just needed a filler paragraph to discuss the ABC Family bumper, as an ad for Voyage of the Dawn Treader airs immediately after that. The previous two Narnia films, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) and Prince Caspian (2008), were released by Walt Disney Pictures, who co-produced them with Walden Media. The latter of the two films underperformed at the box office, however, and Disney didn’t want to make the remaining Narnia films, with 20th Century Fox ultimately taking Disney’s place and releasing Dawn Treader, the only Narnia film to be released in 3-D, as part of the 3-D movie resurgence in the early-to-mid 2010s.

There would’ve been another movie after this one, The Magician’s Nephew, but in Fall 2011, the contract between Walden Media and the C.S. Lewis estate expired. The rights would go to Netflix in October 2018. And of course, Disney infamously bought 20th Century Fox in that year, too...

The references to Dawn Treader’s release date as “this Friday [December 10, 2010]” helped me narrow down the recording date somewhat when I was digitizing the ad breaks.

I have nothing to say about the Outback Steakhouse ad, except that their marketing campaign hasn’t appeared to change for a while, and I remember Outback Steakhouse having a similar campaign prior to 2010. I also don’t eat there, so there’s not much I can say now.

I do, however, have more comments about this next ad. This was another cultural trend that seemed to be in full force in the early 2010s, but seemed to stop just as quickly near the end of it. 3-D TVs were popping up with the event of 3-D Blu-Rays, most likely due to the success of other 3-D movies like James Cameron’s Avatar from the previous year and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (or Underland). In fact, for a brief time in 2011, on Comcast VOD, there was a section under free movies showcasing 3-D movies for 3-D televisions, like MPAA ratings compilation member Haunted Castle (2001).

I may be wrong about this, but recent 1-800-Contacts commercials usually have a jingle at the end of them, singing the company’s name. And recently, it's just a higher-pitched version of the jingle.

Here is a digitally-animated Yuletide commercial for Hershey’s kisses, a popular brand of candy for Easter and Christmas…

Hey, wait a minute! Why aren’t this father and daughter concerned that they live adjacent to a factory for apparently sentient Hershey’s kisses? If this factory isn’t adjacent to the family’s house, how did the candy get to the stocking so fast? And that little Elle Fanning look-alike sure has a hell of a lot of Hershey’s kisses in her stocking (yes, it’s an ad for the candy, but really—that’s a lot)! What happens if a candy is deemed naughty in the factory? Or if one fails the shine test? Why is it that a damn Hershey’s kisses commercial produces so many questions??

Hmm, LEGO figures in an epic, awesome battle to save imagination? They’d ultimately be around four years off. Did Phil Lord and Christopher Miller play LEGO Universe when it came out?

Having voices seemingly come from Christmas tree ornaments? I’d say that Genuardi’s does indeed have everything for Christmas Holiday...baking. Also, why does the skunk not smell anything? Shouldn’t he be a typical depiction of a skunk and at least smell his own stench? I think that’s what one would associate with a standard depiction of a talking skunk.

Additionally, in case you thought that political correctness was just rising up with this “woke” nonsense, here’s where you’re wrong. I also remember seeing this in a preview on a Disney/Buena Vista 2003 DVD for a Lilo and Stitch DVD/board game hybrid arriving “Holiday 2003,” and even at age 11, I was annoyed at this act of PC. And there have been similar cases before that, like my VHS copy of Beauty and the Beast advertising the then-coming-soon Aladdin coming “this 1992 holiday season.” And most likely there are more cases before that.

This is an ad break not for something nationwide, but for something local; the Patriots Theater at the War Memorial in Trenton, NJ, in this case. Local ads breaking into commercial breaks was a common thing since, at least as I can recall, the 2000s and early 2010s and maybe the 1990s and earlier. It's still happening today.

Another Genuardi’s ad, ending with a deep-voiced (Russian?) nutcracker saying smoothly and calmly, “I like nuts.” The ad could’ve been better if it ended with a less obvious favorite food for the nutcracker.

The break ended with a network bumper before returning to the movie, specifying that behind-the-scenes looks at Dawn Treader (the movie, not the ship) would be shown during breaks for Order of the Phoenix (2007), scheduled to air the same night at the current Azkaban airing at 9 PM Eastern, 8 PM Central. Azkaban resumed with the shot of the window, just before the Monster Book of Monsters scene. Fade to commercial after the zoom into Harry’s pupil after the Dementor attack.

ABC Family took a page from popular sister network Disney Channel and created original movies back in the late 2000s all the way to the early 2010s. I’ve never seen it, but I think the plot of Christmas Cupid involves Cupid/a Christmas angel/whatever getting someone to fall in love on the holiday. A stern, Scroogean businessman maybe? Some lady, as seen in the spot? I don’t know.

Having also never seen this film, all I can say is that Gulliver’s Travels was a late 2010 family comedy based on the classic book of the same name, noted for featuring Jack Black, continuing the 3-D craze of the era, and lambasted for being lame and childish. Also, to all those who watch the videos, be warned: This ad will be repeated a lot in the breaks.

The poster for the most infamous film of 2010, and one of the most infamous of the decade, "The Last Airbender."
While bad, “Gulliver’s Travels” wasn’t the most abhorred film of 2010.

Following a standard Fisher-Price commercial, apparently only now, late 2019, making their ads more interesting, we get a Resse’s miniature ad lacking a spiel from Bojack Horseman. I’ve mainly attended family Christmas get-togethers, usually on Christmas Eve or around Thanksgiving/Black Friday, and we’ve never had any peanut butter and chocolate hors d'oeuvres...or at any time, for that matter.

Another spot for a 3-D TV, featuring a father magically cutting out a cubic section of an aquarium with fish in it, and not affecting the surrounding area. The family, made up of the father, a young son, and a wife who looks disinterested to be there, takes the section home, tying it on top of their car, and the father stuffing the aquarium section into his flatscreen television set. All this occurs while “Hey Soul Sister” by Train plays. No, it’s exactly as I’m describing. Maybe I shouldn’t have wasted my two screenshots on mundane things in the ad.

After an ad for Super Scribblenauts for the DS, a commercial plays for the home media release for the third and newest entry to the Twilight saga, Eclipse. In that, one of the female sparkly vampires from the previous films has turned into Ron Howard’s daughter and goes to Seattle to create an army full of innocents-turned-sparkly-vampires to attack the mumbly, mopey butterface Bella Swan (played by real-life butterface Kristen Stewart) and the group of sparkly vampires known as the Cullens, for killing the redhead’s boyfriend/leader to save from a trap the leader lured her into (not a really difficult task).

But that’s not the important part--the real major event of the story isn’t the formation of a sparkly vampire army, oh no. The big enchilada is this: Who will Bella choose to be in love with??? Will it be immortal mumbling mopey sparkly vampire Cedric Diggory? Or mortal Native American, easily-agitated shapeshifter/werewolf-thing Jacob who for some goddamn reason never wears a shirt? Who will it be??? WHO????

I think 2010 was the last year that cell phones came with a physical keyboard rather than an onscreen one. In fact, I think if the young people of today saw such a phone, they’d probably be in awe and amazement at the antiquated thing, as if they were standing in front of a monolith.

Good Lord, when people were saying that 1990s nostalgia would be prominent in the 2010s, they weren’t kidding. First, 3-D TVs were coming around, but not like the ones Jim Carrey was planning, and now product boxes with frighteningly over-excited kids using the product, sort of like something you’d see in a ’90s commercial.

In a jarring change of tone, the movie resumes when Harry comes to on the Hogwarts Express after Lupin used the Patronus charm on the Dementor. The film goes on and on, cutting to another commercial break after Harry apparently finds The Grim in his teacup.

If you haven’t noticed, I didn’t just embed the YouTube videos of the commercials, but placed the original recordings here. That’s because I wanted to show how the 4x3 CRT TV cropped things at a time when widescreen HD presentations of programs were starting to take over.

This is especially apparent in the 3M Command products ad, where the logo and other lettering are chopped off. I created the YT uploads in ArcSoft ShowBiz (which came with my converter) in 16:9, leaving black bars on the left and right side. To better show what my older TV set recorded, I’m placing the original videos here.

The ads continue with the primordial voice-to-text smartphone feature, all while a wretched song is sung by a singer who sounds like an unholy mixture of Cindy Lauper and a mentally retarded child. “We sailed away on wintuh’s day; with feet as malleable as clay…”

This was another type of ad I’ve seen a lot around this time, with a celebrity with a cancer-stricken child (or children) advertising the services of St. Jude’s Hospital. Others I’ve seen featured Jennifer Aniston and Robin Williams. We don’t see such ads now, and the one I’ve seen now is a longer ad featuring the original founder of St. Jude’s appearing in footage as his adult daughter (pictured at right, I don’t remember her name right now) explains more about the hospital. I’ve also seen depressing ones featuring parents of patients, also great in length.

So I guess Johnsonville isn’t really fond of tacos, then.

A VHS rip showing a bunch of nuts jumping to something.

Ah, look. A bunch of nuts looking for something sticky. Where will they find it?

A VHS rip of nuts stuck in something gooey.

Of course, the caramel in PayDay bars. Where else did you think they’d get it?

Ah, Blockbuster. This was around the time Blockbusters all around the nation were closing, sadly. An era was definitely coming to an end. I remember there being a Blockbuster in a shopping center near me in the late 2000s. I would pass it whenever I was on the school bus. As 2010 was coming to an end, it would ultimately be closed and the building where it stood remained unoccupied for a while. I also remember visiting another nearby Blockbuster occasionally when I was younger, during the late ’90s and even renting a Rugrats Halloween tape once. I recall Blockbusters always being here but not visiting them often because I was young and complacent and thought they’d be around forever. Now, if you want to go to a Blockbuster, you’d have to go all the way to Bend, Oregon (and this wouldn’t be a major problem for readers local to that area, but the rest of us…).

Holy shit! I forgot there was some BTS footage of Deathly Hallows Part 1 (and another one was used as a screenshot for another upload, too!). This was notable because first look footage was usually saved for just before the film was released and DH1 was already in theaters for a few weeks by this point. Additionally, I’d like to point this out: When DH1 was first rated by the MPAA, it was PG-13 for “some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images.” Shortly thereafter, it was amended to “some sequences of intense action violence, frightening images, and brief sensuality.”

After some footage showcasing the context and backstage production behind the Seven Potters scene, we resume the ads, featuring a standard Mucinex ad with the family of sentient mucus and another local ad interruption, this time from Comcast advertising their VOD service now online. Coincidentally or not, 2010 marked the ten-year anniversary of the original Dora the Explorer.

A tiny bit of the Windex ad that was overtaken by Comcast’s plays, then we see an ad for the premiere airing of The Gruffalo on, according to the ad, “Thursday at 7/6c,” featuring the voices of Bellatrix Lestrange, Hagrid, and the late Ollivander all in one program! Along with James Corden. According to its IMDb page, The Gruffalo premiered in the US on December 9, 2010. Also, why is ABC Family advertising it as an “ABC Family Original Special” when it was a co-production between the UK and Germany and the network had no involvement with it whatsoever?

After that, we return to 2004 where the trio are going to Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures class. Fade to commercial after Hagrid takes the injured Draco to the Hospital Wing.

As previously mentioned, Blu-Rays were starting to become popular and Disney would release many of their films on the format as special editions before putting them back in the dreaded Disney Vault, never to be seen or heard from again. One such example of this was the two-movie release of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, in honor of the former’s 70th anniversary. Now with Disney+, things might be different with the Disney Vault and perhaps Fantasia will be streaming there, or possibly an 80th Anniversary Blu-Ray edition in the near future.

I don’t seem to remember any commercial campaigns for Ice Breakers in 2010. I know the recent one with the magical unicorn who would often create flavors while whispering puns, as if he was some sort of mystic character.

Another ad for the Samsung 3D TV plays, but this time featuring the Shrek characters, for the home media release of Shrek Forever After. Also, what kind of effect would it have on the aquatic life in the “box” of water when it would be taken home and placed in their TV, how would they react to swimming around in a human living room?

“[A] world long forgotten” indeed, as Epic Mickey was probably the first time in a while that Disney featured something, anything, that revolved around their classic characters, and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, or anything animation-related in general, as opposed to their live-action tweeny-bopper stuff (notorious examples include Hannah Montana, Suite Life, and High School Musical) they were pushing on us throughout the 2000s. What’s even more notable was that Epic Mickey came out almost two years before Gravity Falls did, which would further force the tweeny-bopper filth out of the public consciousness.

After a well-publicized breakdown that dominated much of the mid-2000s news cycle (as opposed to more important things), the late ’90s Southern blonde bubblegum pop airhead that is Britney Spears appeared to make a comeback by the end of the previous decade and the start of the new one, and would make a brief resurgence in 2011 with a new album and some new singles on the radio. Nowadays, as of this writing, it seems that Britney has finally thrown in the towel due to mental issues and we won’t be seeing much of the former Mouseketeer.

As for her perfume Fantasy, I neither bought it nor smelled so I can’t tell you the quality of it. I will say that she was no longer with Kevin Federline by this time, so it probably doesn’t smell like his armpit.

Around eight years later, another similarly named object would have major effects on half of all life in the universe, and five years after that, it would be undone.

Shrek Forever After was advertised as the fourth and final chapter of the franchise, with audiences feeling that it was a major improvement over number three. In the years following Forever’s release, the Shrek franchise became the number one source for dank memes online and spread like wildfire. Years ago, a fifth Shrek movie was announced, but as of this writing, no new information has been uncovered or released. So for now, I’m guessing that it’s true: It truly is, without a shadow of a doubt, never ogre.

We then return to Azkaban (the movie, not the prison--the latter’s fictional), with ghosts, carrying severed ghost heads, crashing through ghost versions of Hogwarts windows. These are probably the Headless Hunt who would often decline Nearly Headless Nick’s requests to join them. It’s hard on him after he was turned down for the Free Masons after designing a slaughterhouse instead of an apartment building. Fade to commercial after Lupin finishes talking to Harry on the bridge.

After a PetSmart ad comes another pretentious ad for Eclipse, trying to make the film look like a bigger, epic tale that it actually is, focusing on werewolf/shapeshifter/possible pedophile Jacob trying to woo the butterface Bella. Fun fact: during the Twilight craze at the time, my sister was a part of Team Jacob.

When Googling Nutella for any information for comments I could make, I discovered that it was originally from Italy. How about that.

How come the guy on the left looks like Zach Braff yet isn’t? Also, out of all the campaigns I can recall in this decade, State Farm seemed to have changed the most yet remained the same. They’ve retained their famous jingle, but changed commercials. There’s this, and in the mid-to-late 2010s, ads would involve people in precarious situations and have to sing the jingle to get a State Farm agent to help them (a parody of which was the most dated bit in the Batman v. Superman HISHE from three years ago). Nowadays, they feature an instrumental of the jingle and just agents talking to people. Not very interesting.

Now this is a weird ad for AT&T. Lots of possible time travel nonsense, and nothing at all like Endgame, so be warned.

It starts off at a football game after a team had scored a touchdown and we follow a player as he heads to his team’s locker room, then it turns to that of his college football team, then to that of his high school football team, then he gets into his dad’s car and we travel back to when he was a kid and the two went to get tickets to a football game. However, it turns out that tickets are sold out, but luckily, in the early version of any digital version of event tickets, the father has downloaded them into his 2010 phone, and then we cut back to the end of the game we saw at the start of the ad to find that the little boy, who was the player, was watching the whole thing.

After another ad for Super Scribblenauts, an ad for USPS plays. Here, a woman tricks her husband into shopping at the mall, as opposed the the more work-heavy shipping. The mailman tells her about easy shipping with Priority boxes (“If it fits, it ships.”) and the woman tells the mailman she’s aware of this as she gives him a package with such a box while her husband doesn’t remain any wiser about this new, easy way to ship packages while being forced to go to the mall for shopping. Bitch.

Wow. This is definitely an aspect of its time. The beloved toy store briefly went out of business in early 2018, but seems to be coming back, with two stores scheduled to open this November.

After an ad for Avery notepads (featuring the slightly redesigned version of Saul Bass' logo done by Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv) and a brief glimpse of an item sold at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, we get an ad for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder, who would die later in the year that I uploaded the ads to YouTube.

I didn’t see Mickey’s Christmas Special when it first came out, but I’m guessing that it’s a collection of classic Disney Christmas/winter cartoons based on the commercial. Dammit! Why the hell did I miss it if that’s the case?!

We return to the main feature as the Gryffindor students are on the stairs, just before the discovery of the missing Fat Lady. The movie goes on until the end of the Quidditch match scene, ending with the iris out as Harry is falling from his broom and Dumbledore casts the movie-only spell to stop him.

Another ad for Britney’s perfume, aired some months before her brief comeback, with the blonde, formerly bald airhead rejecting an offer from a fortune teller (played by Naomi Watts?) to tell Britney her future. That Britney will ultimately retire from music due to mental issues? I guess it’s a good thing 2010!Britney turned down the offer. In fact, in the movie, another person similar to the fortune teller will give an even more dire prediction.

A fun Lego ad in vain of the movie that would come in around four years, notably featuring Tad Ghostal as the announcer!

The next ad is a Walgreens ad (which apparently sells other items for Christmas in addition to medical stuff, at least in 2010), which features that strange “bow bow bow bow”-sounding instrument, similar to the one featured in background music in CatDog. I wonder what that instrument is? Maybe a guitar?

I didn’t have anything to say about the first Target ad in this break because I thought hard about what I would say. The first one focused on a massive gingerbread house fit for a competition with a barely noticeable blender/mixer nearby, then it cut to the blender/mixer against a red background, as if that was the important thing rather than the gingerbread house. Then I figured that it would make sense because the bowl was involved with the making of the massive house.

I tried to think of something for this one, with everyone looking at a home’s window with the lamp from A Christmas Story present. I’m not sure when it’s set, whether in 2010 or the setting of the film, based on the cars in the background. Then it inexplicably cut to a pair of curtains available for purchase, as if they were a more important item than the lamp from A Christmas Story! Almost immediately thereafter, I figured that it was emphasizing the curtains to prevent a scene similar to the one outside the house, no matter what the time period, so this ad makes sense, too.

The movie returns with the iris in as Harry wakes up in the Hospital Wing and goes on until the end of the scene of Harry using the Patronus against the Boggart Dementor.

I don’t care! It’s “Ho ho ho!” Not “who who who!” Fix the ad!

This Stomp!-inspired Kit Kat ad seemed rather enjoyable to me. I wish Kit Kat would do this with their jingle more often. It’s an interesting twist on their tune.