Critics will say this spot is fairly generic for the first minute, in which the viewer is simply entertained without any reference to the actual product (and that perhaps nostalgia is not best paired with technology - after all, who wants a "retro" cellphone from 1989?). Nevertheless, it's clear that people (including me) thoroughly enjoy the ad, and it clearly reached the target audience. As I was looking for similar ads on YouTube, I stumbled onto this one:
Remarkably, this video has collected more than 50 million views in 4 years. Although it's a stretch to say it went "viral", it's gotten more views than Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like", which is frequently listed as one of the most watched YouTube commercials of all time. Similarly, another Play Doh spot hits 20 million (even better, check out "The Gummy Bear Song" with 300 million views).
Understandably, some children's ads become popular because they are stereotyping gender roles (i.e. being sexist), or are just plain creepy, but this Play Doh spot is a mystery to me! It's highly unlikely that the target age group of children are watching this on YouTube late at night, so it must be either nostalgic parents, or just humour in the fact that (as suggested by the comments) the stuff looks so appetizing (even to adults), that it's hard to imagine children following the directions of not eating it.
Let us know if you have an alternative hypothesis! Lastly, I want to share a commercial I remember vividly from my childhood, and is sure to pull some final nostalgia strings. Even if you didn't have one you'll still remember the cheesy jingle.