MediaRadar Blog

grilled chicken on a plate

Butterball Through the Years: 6 Decades of Ads

Thanksgiving has arrived. It’s turkey time! And for us, that means it’s turkey ad time.

For a lot of advertisers, the Thanksgiving season is a time to promote black friday and Christmas.

For Butterball, however, Thanksgiving is a very opportune time to make consumer’s mouths water, and their wallets open.

Their approach has changed a bit over the decades, but one thing is for sure – Butterball always focused on the buttery, plump, juicy goodness of their holiday-fueling turkeys.

Here’s a look at the evolution of Butterball ads across 6 decades:


1965 – “The Swift Family Singers”  

This one’s for your ears and your appetite. Snap your fingers, groove a little… Get ready for some turkey!


1978 – “The Spirits of the First Turkey-Lovers”

Out of the reach of hand basting… This turkey ad about deep basting is truly plump and juicy.

It depicts the “first turkey lovers” as pilgrims, time-travelling from the past, extremely impressed by the turkey of the new world. Unfortunately, for these pilgrims, Butterball wasn’t around in their day.


1984 – “America’s First Turkey”

This commercial depicts “Marian’s first turkey.”

The rest of the family sees it inevitable that Marian’s turkey comes out dry. But thanks to Butterball, she defies all expectations.


1991 – “Fresh and Frozen”

This one is short and to the point. There’s no “Marian” in this ad, but there is still a concern of dry turkey. Not with a Butterball, however.

This ad runs until right around the 15-second mark – showing a touch of what’s becoming today’s advertising norms.


2002 – “The Best of all is Butterball”

According to this ad, “all it takes is a little patience… And a Butterball.”

You can hear the sizzling of the turkey as it sits in the oven, bronzing, while the family enjoys one another’s company in the background.

It’s the ideal holiday – family and delicious food.


2014 – “Butterball – the choice of Turketarians

Butterball introduced the idea of a Turketarian in June of 2013. More or less, a turketarian is a person devoted entirely, and only, to turkey.

With some quirky dancing and a bit of goofiness, however, this ad provides a bit more levity than Butterball’s previous decades of advertisements.

What was once “plump, juicy, and buttery” now became a way of life.

For good measure, here’s another Turketarian ad from 2016:

In the end, what’s most impressive is Butterball’s sustained Thanksgiving success. After decades of juicy, plump turkeys, family bands, pilgrims, and turketarians, Butterball still stands as a powerful figure in the lives of turkey-eaters.