The Wiz - TV spot (lost advertisement video for Broadway musical; 1975)


The Wiz (advertising video)
The poster for the original Broadway production.
The poster for the original Broadway production.
Status Lost

The musical The Wiz presents an updated retelling of the children's story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It traditionally boasts an all African-American cast, and also had African-Americans perform such conceptual duties as writing the songs. It opened on Broadway in 1975, and would become one of the first Broadway musicals for which TV spots would form an integral part of the advertising campaign.

The Power of Television

The premiere of The Wiz received mixed reviews. In order to boost ticket sales, investor 20th Century Fox commissioned an aggressive advertising campaign. At the center, lay a TV spot with the lead actors performing their travelling anthem, "Ease On Down the Road".

The advertisements succeeded in convincing more people to watch The Wiz. Word of mouth became so positive that the show ran for four years on Broadway. Along the way, it earned seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It lives on today in re-stagings both professional and amateur and through the continued popularity of such numbers as "Ease On Down the Road". The Wiz also inspired two star-studded screen adaptations: a cult classic 1978 movie starring, among others, Diana Ross as Dorothy and Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow (in some of their only film performances) , and an Emmy-winning 2015 TV special headlined by Queen Latifah as The Wiz.

Resurfaced Commercials

As of December 2017, the TV spot that helped save The Wiz remains unavailable to watch online, at least in its original form. In December 2015, advertising agency Serino Coyne uploaded a promo from later in the original Broadway run onto YouTube. It apparently features almost none of the original cast, save Stephanie Mills as Dorothy. It also showcases the song "If You Believe" (also known as, "Believe in Yourself"), instead of "Ease On Down the Road", with different lyrics.

In October 2016, YouTuber MicroJow uploaded another commercial for The Wiz, dated July 1978. This one actually shows a performance of "Ease on Down the Road", and seems to include more of the original cast. However, the date and the voiceover (which boasts of the play's Tony wins) make it hard to identify this as the first ad for the production.

Videos

"Believe in Yourself" commercial.
1978 "Ease on Down the Road" commercial (30:48).

External Links

Comments


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Lupone

7 months ago
Score 0++

I found a commercial for the Broadway revival in 1984. It also starred Stephanie Mills and may use the same footage from the 70s. https://www....=eyjiwDq9Wfg

I also have a friend who collects Broadway advertisements and show reels, he may have it, hopefully he responds later today.
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Dsneybuf

6 months ago
Score 0++
Did he respond?
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Anonymous user #1

27 days ago
Score 1++
I have actually watched a promo for The Wiz featuring "Ease on Down the Road" from the '70s on YouTube, though I can't remember which exact video I saw it in. I do know it originated from a channel I subscribe to called "MicroJow" and was a video of commercial breaks taped from a NYC TV station around 1978, though it could've been earlier than that. I'm not sure if the commercial I saw featured the original cast, but it's worth looking into.
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Dsneybuf

7 days ago
Score 0++

Found it: https://yout...7uQ?t=30m48s

I asked the Oz Museum and Stephanie Mills via Twitter if this looks like the original ad, though the announcer proclaiming the play's Tony wins gives me a little doubt.
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Dsneybuf

7 days ago
Score 0++
Comparing the video to the pictures in the "virtual coffee table book", I think I identify Ted Ross as the Lion. The ad also matches descriptions on other websites, so I might just declare this commercial "partially lost".
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