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Promoting the ’68 TV Special

 

By Bob Pakes
 
 

Card (6x3 inch) front

 

Card (6x3 inch) backThe Colonel, as well as the Singer Company and RCA Records, knew Elvis’ first TV appearance since the Sinatra show in 1960 was bound to be something very special indeed. Plenty of advertising was done in the weeks and days prior to the screening of this landmark show on DECEMBER 3rd 1968.
 
In this article we will take a look at the posters, flyers and magazine/newspaper advertisements from late 1968.
And we will also present some of the promotion material from AUGUST 17, 1969 when NBC aired the show for a second time.
 
Above and to the right we can see the front and back of a PROMOTIONAL CARD (sized 6 x 3 inch).

 
 
 

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“WELCOME TO THE NBC AND THE ELVIS PRESLEY SPECIAL!”

Part One
DECEMBER 1968

 
 
 

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Banner-Poster (29.5 x 15.5 inch)

This BANNER/POSTER is 29.5 x 15.5 inch in size.

 
 
 

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The Singer Company Elvis Tune-InHere we have one of only a few surviving RADIO SPOT records.
This nowadays extremely rare item was sent to Radio Stations across the USA and the commercial that promoted the TV Special was heard nationwide shortly before the Special aired.
Once the Special had been aired, the Radio Spot did not make sense anymore, so most of these records were destroyed.
 
 
Please click the PLAY button to listen to this rare Radio Spot:
 

 
 
 

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04 Banner (Dennis Berry)To the right we have a BANNER that was used by Singer for in-store promotion.

 
 
 

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Poster (24 x 36 inch)Here we have the largest promotional item. This very nice POSTER is sized 24 x 36 inch.

 
 
 

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Standee (22 x 28 inch) on display in Singer storesAnother extremely rare item:
 
Here we have a 22 x 28 inch sized TABLETOP-STANDEE that was on display in Singer stores.
According to the Auction House that sold this beauty (for a whopping $1900,-) only two of these are known to still exist today.
 
 
It is believed, although I cannot confirm this myself, this design was also used as a MAGAZINE ADVERTISEMENT. The image below indeed appears to be a tiny bit different.
 
Magazine advertisement

 
 
 

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Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming StarSINGER PRESENTS ELVIS SINGING FLAMING STAR AND OTHERS
 
The phrase “Singer Presents Elvis” was used on each and every promotional item brought forward by the Singer Company. So it made sense that the title of the budget LP would also contain this phrase.
 
Released in October 1968, this weird compilation of (mainly) forgettable filmsongs also contained the first ever release of a song recorded for the TV Special, TIGER MAN, giving the audience a sneek peek at what was to come about a month later. It must have been a thrill (or a shock) to hear the rawness in Elvis’ voice for the very first time.
 
Click the PLAY button to listen to a SINGER COMMERCIAL for this LP:
 

 
 
When this album was re-released by RCA on their CAMDEN label five months later, “Singer Presents” was dropped from the cover.
 
 
Below we see the BONUS PHOTO that came with the purchase of this LP. Unlike all later prints, only the first edition contained a reference to The Singer Co. and the air date on the back.

 

Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star BONUS PHOTO (Cayetano) Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star BONUS PHOTO

 
 
 

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06 LIFE 29-11-68 page 2 06 LIFE 29-11-68 page 1

From LIFE magazine, a DOUBLE-PAGE AD.
(November 29, 1968)

 
 
 

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Singer Presents Elvis newspaper advertisement (December 1968) Full-Page Singer advertisementLeft we have a (low rez) NEWSPAPER AD from a few days before the airing.
 
And to the right a FULL-PAGE ADVERTISEMENT that is almost identical to the one Singer used (as the right page of their two-page ad) in LIFE. The only exception is that Elvis can now be seen in lower left corner.

 
 
 

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TV Guide (November 30, 1968)To the right a FULL-PAGE ADVERTISMENT for the Show from TV Guide.
(November 30, 1968)
 
 
(Not Elvis but) Ann-Margret was on the cover of this weeks edition of TV Guide.
 
TV Guide (Novermber 30, 1968)
 
And below we have the listing in that same TV Guide on the day of the broadcast.
 
13 TV Guide listing December 3

 
 
 

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Promotional Booklet (4x9 inch) front Promotional Booklet (4x9 inch) spread

This is the official PROMOTIONAL BOOKLET.
It measures 4 x 9 inch, consists of 32 pages and it features the famous image of Elvis in his Gold Suit on the frontcover.

 

To the right we have the center-spread of this booklet.

 
 
 

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Billboard, November 30, 1968 (3)This is a FULL-PAGE ADVERTISEMENT that not just mentions the air-date of the TV Special and Elvis’ latest album (the NBC soundtrack), but (of course!) also a ton of other irrelevant RCA stuff has been cramped into this ad. It’s nothing less but a miracle they didn’t pop his latest movie + it’s companion record-release somewhere in there as well …
(Billboard, November 30, 1968)
 
Notice that RCA and The Colonel did not use the image of the ‘new Elvis’ that can be seen on nearly all of the Promotional items that were produced with regard to the TV Special. No, they used the 12 year old image of the wellknown Elvis in his Gold Suit in order to bring this ad to the attention of the public. An ad likes this makes it painfully clear that Parker and RCA had missed the boat somewhere in the 60’s and they were still marketing Elvis in the same way they did back in 1956 …

 
 
 

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Billboard December 7, 1968 (upgrade)Here we have the final entry of the December 1968 Promotional campaign for the NBC TV Special.
 
This is a FULL-PAGE ADVERTISEMENT from the Singer Company in Billboard, from a few days after the special had aired.
(December 7, 1968)
 
But wait! RCA has also bought itself a few inches of advertising space in this Singer ad. And yes, there is also the reference to go see Elvis in his latest MGM movie. Phew, what a relieve!

 
 
 

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“WELCOME TO THE NBC AND (the re-run of) THE ELVIS PRESLEY SPECIAL!”

Part Two
AUGUST 1969

 
 
 
 

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Tabletop Standee 1969 (22x28)The NBC show aired for a second time on August 17, 1969 and once again some interesting material was produced to promote the Show.
 
First up is a very rare TABLETOP STANDEE used in Singer stores.
This true collector’s item measures 22 x 28 inch.

 
 
 

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Billboard August 16, 1969Here we have a very cool FULL-PAGE ADVERTISEMENT.
(Billboard, August 16, 1969)

 
 
 

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Singer Presents Elvis newspaper advertisement (August 1969)A Singer NEWSPAPER-ADVERTISEMENT simultaneously promoting the re-run of The Special and the Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star And Others album. Singer must have still been advertising ‘their’ LP (now even cheaper than the first time around) because they had a lot of it left on their shelves cause by this time RCA had already released it on the Camden label.
 
 
 

Below we have a FLYER from August 1969.

Flyer Singer Presents (August 1969)

 
 
 

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Promotional Postcard frontAnd here we have a promotional POSTCARD that was presented as a give-away at Singer Centers. The card shows up on auction sites from time to time, so we can assume it has been printed in a (relative) large quantity.
 
The postcard (measuring 3.5 x 5.5 inch) promotes both the second showing of the TV Special as well as Elvis’ first season in Las Vegas.
 
 
 
 
Promotional Postcard back

 
 
 

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Greil Marcus RollingTo conclude our trip back in time to 1968/69, here are some interesting documents:
 
BELOW: a letter from Singer to the Colonel concerning the promotion for the Show.
 
TO THE RIGHT: Greil Marcus’ review of the album from Rolling Stone magazine.
Two eyecatching quotes:
” … unless one is a collector of Presley memorabilia, this record is really not worth buying.”
” … just like when Ed Sullivan dressed him up in a tuxedo …”
 
Singer letter to Parker

 

Billboard Canada dec 21 1968 Billboard review dec 21 1968

LEFT:
From Billboard (December 21, 1968), a report from Canada stating that the TV Special has caused a renewed interest in Elvis’ music and Rock ‘n’ Roll music (“oldies”) altogether.
According the article:
“There’s been a landslide on Presley product”.
“The soundtrack is a real monster”.

 
 
 
 
 

RIGHT:
From the same edition of Billboard, a short review of the soundtrack album:
“… this should be his biggest LP in some time”.

 
 
 
 

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Singer Presents ElvisTHANKS:
 
My sincere thanks to DENNIS BERRY for his help in putting this article together.
 
Also thanks to CAYETANO for supplying a scan of the Flaming Star Bonus Photo.
 
And (as always!) my thanks to GER RIJFF for his help (including providing me with the ultra-rare Radio Spot).
Please do yourself a huge favour and follow Ger on FACEBOOK
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17 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is nice!
    I remember seeing the first NBC photos of Elvis in black leather around
    august / september of that year, in a Newsletter from the Kissin Cousins
    fanclub, somewhere in CA… A full report on the recording & filming of two
    shows in Burbank, by one of the fanclub members, was also included.
    Elvis belting out One Night and Jailhouse Rock?! Couldn’t believe what
    I was reading?! We were still in the middle of digesting some very forgettable
    fims…remember?! It was fun to be a fan during the 2nd half of 1968…
    Even though the tv special wouldn’t air on Dutch tv for at least half a year,
    or even longer. The situation in Great Britain and most countries in Europe
    was even worse. But the promise of better times to come ( and they came! )
    kept us all going. 1969 was a blast!

    June 24, 2013
  2. It must have been great after all those years of movies to hear Elvis this way again.
    He was at the top again.

    June 25, 2013
  3. Paul Pearce #

    Great stuff!! All the excitement fans felt when this was originally aired…after all those crappy movies this was an absolute relief. Yes, Elvis finally wowed them again! Sadly, it wasn’t to last long before he went downhill again.

    June 25, 2013
  4. r&b #

    I remember having the New York Daily News in a study hall class in the spring of 1968 and seeing Elvis and NBC were planning a TV special for later this ear. I wish I had kept that article. I still remember reading it like it was yesterday and the feeling I got. I didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully, Steve Binder was on the scene. These promo items bring it all back.

    June 25, 2013
  5. Gerrit De Jong #

    Once again a fantastic topic!
    I am beginning to sound lik a broken record here, be thankful its not an Original sun label :-)

    June 26, 2013
  6. God bless Steve Binder! Without him the NBC show would have been as bland as the movies El was making at that time.

    June 26, 2013
  7. Some very tasty additions indeed! Beautiful mint copies of the Singer album and
    bonus photo… For as long as I can remember, I have always thought the album was
    presented without the RCA mention on the cover?! Was the label different to the
    regular RCA ones from the time? Different in color perhaps? Input is appreciated.
    Thanks guys & gals.

    October 7, 2013
  8. This stuff is glorious and original. In keeping with the overall ‘Echoes’ site. Magic!

    October 9, 2013
  9. Ken Hercock #

    Outstanding work Bob, nicely gathered in one place for the world to see. Thank you.

    April 4, 2014
  10. I made a site some time back with extensive pics, but I haven’t promoted much.
    Check it out:
    “http://elvis68comebackphotos.freeservers.com/”

    April 11, 2014
  11. Colt Rivers #

    This is Fantabulous Bob, I love all of this, thank you very much for this, there are quite a few pictures here that I have never seen before.
    Your whole website is a must see Elvis site for fans to come to and enjoy all you have done.

    April 14, 2014
  12. Mike Windgren #

    Wonderful & outstanding work on the ´68 Special.

    April 21, 2014
  13. Juan #

    I was very young so missed all of this. I didnt see the show until 1978. A great show.

    September 20, 2014
  14. Very well done piece. Marcus’ comments on the album are noteworthy, not only for the errors you indicated, but for his observation about the crossroad Elvis faced at that point. He could have gone in many directions and I agree with Marcus’ praise for Elvis as a blues singer. I think Marcus may have missed the point of the special, as far as Steve Binder was concerned. Binder wanted to capture Elvis as he really was as a kind of antidote to the image of him created by a decade of films. The live pit segments did that for him, although he originally wanted to tape the actual informal jam sessions Elvis held each day in his dressing room, which is what gave him the idea for the pit segments. The special celebrates Elvis’ earlier achievements while also telling the world that he was still a great performer and entertainer with deep musical roots.

    The official title of this special remains something of a mystery. In nearly all of the material you display, the title is given as “Singer Presents Elvis.” However, the only title that appears on screen at the start of the program is “Elvis,” which seems to me the most appropriate title. It also is the only title on the original LP cover. In my book, “Channeling Elvis: How Television Saved the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” I use the one-word title.

    January 14, 2015
  15. Pink&Black #

    Greil Marcus’s comment really surprised me. Didn’t he say in ‘MysteryTrain’, ” It was the finest music of his life. If ever there was music that bleeds this was it.”
    “He had always said ‘yes’ but this time he was saying ‘no’, not without humor but almost with a wry bit of guilt as if he had betrayed himself and his talent.”
    I don’t have the book, unfortunately, but I’m pretty sure it’s in there.

    January 16, 2015
  16. Alan White #

    Brilliant update.

    January 29, 2016
  17. Sören Szameitat #

    Hi Ger,
    I have an unusual question: I collect Elvis 1970s memorabilia and own one of the two Reels of the Opening Night, January 26, 1970 Show.
    Do you have any idea how could own Box/Reel# 2 ?. I think it was shown in one of the “The American Way” CDs. I like to reunite both reels!

    Greetings from Hamburg, Germany, Sören

    June 6, 2016

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