Chuckles the Clown (lost premium rate telephone service ad; mid-late 1980s)

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Still from a typical 1-900 number commercial.

Status: Lost

In the 1980s, various companies advertised premium-rate telephone numbers via television commercials. These numbers would result in additional charges to the phone bill of any household that used them, which would then make money for the company. Some companies provided services that were deemed valuable at the time, such as news-over-the-phone. However, other companies based their telephone number around entertainment, and specifically tried to get children to call the number and charge the premium rate to their parents' phone bill. Many such commercials are fondly remembered on nostalgia websites. However, as they were just commercials at the time, there was little incentive to record or preserve them. The companies in question were also numerous, obscure, and may have collapsed with the end 1-900 numbers. One such lost commercial aired for a service where children could become rock stars and sing via the telephone with a fictional clown called Chuckles the Clown. This ad has been remembered by many children who grew up in the 80s, but it has never been found on the internet. The company responsible for this particular advertisement is unknown, though there is speculation that an Easter Bunny commercial that was uploaded to YouTube around 2009 may have been produced by the same group. Unfortunately, the Easter Bunny variant is also lost.

The Commercial

The Chuckles the Clown commercial began with a claymation clown (the titular Chuckles of the service) singing. It then cuts to a boy jumping on his bed in his bedroom while his mom vacuums the room. A few seconds later, the boy turns into a rock star and Chuckles tells the viewers about the hotline. All that remains are the lyrics to the ad, which were posted on an 80s pop culture newsgroup. Members of this newsgroup recall the commercial airing in the Philadelphia area and the Orange County California area around 1989.[1]

The Supposed Lyrics

Time to rock and roll with Chuckles The Clown

We are waiting for the sound of your tone

You can be in the Chuckles Band

Just sing into the telephone!

You can be in the Chuckles Band

Just sing into the telephone!