Television saved the animated cartoon industry in the 1950s.
Cartoons and other short subjects became to movie studios like an appendix to a human. They weren’t really needed. They didn’t bring in vast revenue. So studios sold TV distribution rights to companies that proceeded to make a killing off them, resulting in the creation of a whole new TV animation industry.
But cartoons got a boost from television in another way. They were perfect for advertising. TV was still fairly primitive in 1950. There weren’t all that many production facilities and the ones that existed were still tinkering to perfect the technical aspects of the medium. But cartoons had already been perfected. Veteran animators and layout men who knew their craft were looking for work. Cartoons didn’t involve building and lighting sets, blocking actors and so on. As a result, there were almost countless numbers of animated commercials on TV through the ‘50s.
Harry Wayne McMahan, formerly of animated TV producer Five Star Productions, wrote a book in 1954 on effective TV advertising, then enlarged and updated it in 1957. It has some wonderful reproductions of frames of commercials, including animated ones. Unfortunately in some cases he doesn’t reveal which studio was responsible for them. But allow me to pass on some that were identified.
Animation Inc. was run by Earl Klein, Storyboard was John Hubley’s company while Ed Gershman was in charge of Academy Pictures (with Bill Tytla as a vice-president for a time). Sam Nicholson was creative director at TV Spots at the time this book came out. There were many other studios, of course; these were among the West Coast commercial producers.
Here are some examples McMahon gives of styles.