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American Bandstand Intro and 7-Up Ad

by Matt Delmont

In addition to the name change, through its new introduction and set design American Bandstand encouraged viewers to imagine themselves as part of a national audience of television viewers.  Each show opened with the camera focused on teenagers dancing in the studio to “Bandstand Boogie,” a big band swing style instrumental written especially for the show.  The camera would pull back to reveal a large cut-out map of the continental U.S., made out of blue-glittered cardboard.  With the teenagers now pictured to be dancing inside of this national map, the producers superimposed the show’s title at the center.[i]  Using this technique, within the first minute of each program American Bandstand depicted its studio audience as literally dancing across the nation.

When buying time on American Bandstand sponsors like 7-Up, Dr. Pepper, Clearasil, and Rice-A-Roni also bought interaction between their products and the show’s teenagers.  For example, after the opening shot of teens dancing behind the cut-out map of the U.S. in one 1957 episode, the camera focused on a 7-Up sign and bottles of the soda placed next to Clark at his podium.  Clark read a letter from a viewer in Schenectady, NY, who sent him a bottle opener because he was unable to open a bottle of 7-Up in a previous show.  After thanking the viewer for her letter and the gift, and commenting on his thirst, Clark took an exaggerated swig of the soda.  The camera cut to teenagers in the studio audience who asked for drinks of their own, which Clark promised to deliver after a short commercial.  After a one-minute cartoon advertisement for 7-Up, the camera returned to a live shot of Clark handing out bottles of 7-Up from a cooler to an eager group of audience members.  As Clark introduced “Get a Job” by the Silhouettes, the camera stayed focused on teens drinking 7-Up and milling about near the cooler through the first fifteen seconds of the song.  Throughout the song, the cameras cut away from shots of teens dancing to return to the teenagers drinking 7-Up.  All told, this 7-Up promo lasted nearly five minutes and was only the first of several in that episode.[i]
These interpolated commercials, which were common in radio and television shows in this era, provided American Bandstand’s viewers with daily visual evidence of teenagers’ eagerness to consume products.[ii]  While such a message appealed to marketers looking to expand sales, images of teenagers as consumers also encouraged the home audience to join in by buying the sponsor’s products.  The show’s advertisements focused on soft drinks and snacks—Popsicles, Mounds, Almond Joy, Dr. Pepper, and Welch’s grape juice all advertised on the show—all of which were aimed at teenage viewers and their parents in the after-school hours.[iii]  American Bandstand’s afternoon broadcast time was also less expensive for sponsors.  In 1958, these advertisers paid $3,400 per half hour compared to $30,000 to $45,000 for a half hour on a live music show in the evening.[iv]  For this bargain rate American Bandstand offered sponsors an unusually deep level of interaction with teenagers in the studio audience and those viewing at home.

American Bandstand Intro and 7-Up Ad - short version

This clip features the introduction to American Bandstand, in which teenagers shown dancing behind a large cut-out of the U.S. This clip also shows an ad for 7-Up, the first of several in this episode.

from American Bandstand (1957)
Creator: Dick Clark
Distributor: ABC/WFIL
Posted by Matt Delmont