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Thread: Adverts that terrified you as a kid

  1. #1
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    Default Adverts that terrified you as a kid

    So many of the TV adverts from my childhood still linger in my memory; some as they were great adverts and others as they gave me the horrors. I'd love to hear about the TV ads that scared you as a kid.

    I'll open with a few that gave me some serious sleepless nights and anxiety.

    - Kinder Surprise (mid '1980s)
    This deformed, leering Humpty gave me the fear. My friend Graham and I were terrified of it. What if we woke up one night and it was sitting on our beds, babbling his nonsense? Not only does he look like something from a Bosch painting, he speaks this gibberish language.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSVGnuRuphg

    - Shell Grip (1984)
    Not even the affable Tim Healy from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet could make this less scary. This advert made me scared of going anywhere by car at night, and especially along lonely country roads. I grew up in Devon, so all we had were lonely country roads.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oSO2zJM0OI

    - British Airways 'Manhattan' (1983)
    I was obsessed with UFOs at this time, and also scared of them. This advert is almost like a horror movie, with the night time setting and the people looking up to see this sinister glowing horror in the sky. If I was outdoor at night, I could never look at the sky in case I saw the Manhattan UFO floating there, ready to loom over me and abduct me.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZu0y-D6BMs&t=4s

    REMEMBER: cream first, jam second...



  2. #2

    Default Re: Adverts that terrified you as a kid

    I don't recall being scared by any of the adverts on TV; rather, it was some of the PIFs that were sometimes shown during ad breaks that occasionally made me uncomfortable.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Adverts that terrified you as a kid

    I remember finding the Kinder Humpty more amusing than scary.
    The Trickster On The Roof

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    Default Re: Adverts that terrified you as a kid

    Quote Originally Posted by staffslad View Post
    I don't recall being scared by any of the adverts on TV; rather, it was some of the PIFs that were sometimes shown during ad breaks that occasionally made me uncomfortable.
    OMG, yes! There was one about the dangers of leaving your baby unguarded in a pram. It featured a vulture-like bird, which would swoop down and supposedly snatch the poor kid! Nightmares ensued!
    Time flies like the wind, fruit flies like bananas - go figure!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Adverts that terrified you as a kid

    I think we need to distinguish adverts from PIFs even though they were scheduled in the same commercial break, usually at the end of it.

    There is a commercial break on YouTube which not only has the "Get the Fire Brigade Out" PIF but also the "Brian, I can smell gas" British Gas advert from 1986 or early 1987 - it was an Anglia region one which takes the pressure off a little bit as I received Central at the time, but even then, both of them would have been seen in other regions, even if they were not seen in the same ad break.

    My avatar is actually a still image from a KP Peanuts advert from 1983, and when it was on, I had some sort of phobia of that advert - I don't know why, although it has some women behaving seductively in the advert, crossing their legs in short dresses, and a young man going all Shaky/Travolta on us in a dancing mood while singing a reworded version of Lene Lovich's 1979 hit Lucky Number. I suppose I was embarrassed of it all, and cursed my parents that they were not BBC 1 people so that the ad breaks could be avoided. I have mentioned it before on here - one for the men in white coats, I know.
    I am now in my 40s (just in case anyone asks).

  6. #6

    Default Re: Adverts that terrified you as a kid

    I don't remember that particular one, but I wonder if it was put out when there was genuine concern about rats attacking babies and toddlers in the 1970s. I think there were reports of babies in prams left out in gardens being attacked, but whether they were genuine or urban myths I don't know. The concern over rats was, however, entirely genuine, and was the inspiration for James Herbert to write his best-known horror novel, 'The Rats'.

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    Default Re: Adverts that terrified you as a kid

    I have always liked watching old ad breaks as they give a "there and then" perspective of life at times which meant that they couldn't be seen a year later. I used to hate it when people used to press pause on the VCR remote controls if they recording a James Bond film back in the 1980s and the adverts came on - the irony was that the adverts would have been lost forever whereas the film would still be available.

    An old ITV Bank Holiday film from the 1980s would find me fast forwarding the film every 25 minutes to watch the adverts, whereas it would have been the other way round at the time! I was amazed to find that "lip-smacking Pepsi" advert which used the tune to Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" and used the sub-Travolta character to fit in with the 1950s rock 'n' roll nostalgia boom in the late 1970s a la Happy Days and Grease. The advert appeared on TV Heaven for its 1978 edition in 1992, and I also saw it as part of an original LWT commercial break recorded from early September 1978 on YouTube which felt obviously strange to see considering considering TV Heaven showing it!

    Saying that however, I have found old ad breaks from the late 1970s and early 1980s a bit creepy - did anyone else think of them like that? I watch them on YouTube and often I am cautious about seeing one just in case I happened to be reunited with an advert which frightened me or something when I was younger and so therefore, and sometimes I even try and rack my brains as to remember which adverts I remember from a specific year when I am talking about the early to mid 1980s. I even skim through to them to make sure that they are all kosher.

    And the way some products or services were advertised looked alien to a present day person, hence the fact that it looks a bit terrifying. The "scratches" just before an advert starts, as well as the two seconds of silence prior to the sound starting up (almost giving a fright when it happens almost unexpectedly) up until around 1984-1985 is another thing that had always looked terrifying to me. I always associate the scratches prior to old PIFs made in the 1970s, and so obviously as they were been seen along with adverts from that time, one would have seen that on a regular basis.
    I am now in my 40s (just in case anyone asks).

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    Default Re: Adverts that terrified you as a kid

    Quote Originally Posted by Disco_Puppy View Post

    - British Airways 'Manhattan' (1983)
    I was obsessed with UFOs at this time, and also scared of them. This advert is almost like a horror movie, with the night time setting and the people looking up to see this sinister glowing horror in the sky. If I was outdoor at night, I could never look at the sky in case I saw the Manhattan UFO floating there, ready to loom over me and abduct me.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZu0y-D6BMs&t=4s
    What makes the "Manhattan" advert particularly eerie now is seeing the World Trade Center looming over the rooftops.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Adverts that terrified you as a kid

    Quote Originally Posted by George 1978 View Post
    An old ITV Bank Holiday film from the 1980s would find me fast forwarding the film every 25 minutes to watch the adverts, whereas it would have been the other way round at the time! I was amazed to find that "lip-smacking Pepsi" advert which used the tune to Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" and used the sub-Travolta character to fit in with the 1950s rock 'n' roll nostalgia boom in the late 1970s a la Happy Days and Grease. The advert appeared on TV Heaven for its 1978 edition in 1992, and I also saw it as part of an original LWT commercial break recorded from early September 1978 on YouTube which felt obviously strange to see considering considering TV Heaven showing it!

    Saying that however, I have found old ad breaks from the late 1970s and early 1980s a bit creepy - did anyone else think of them like that? I watch them on YouTube and often I am cautious about seeing one just in case I happened to be reunited with an advert which frightened me or something when I was younger and so therefore, and sometimes I even try and rack my brains as to remember which adverts I remember from a specific year when I am talking about the early to mid 1980s. I even skim through to them to make sure that they are all kosher.

    And the way some products or services were advertised looked alien to a present day person, hence the fact that it looks a bit terrifying. The "scratches" just before an advert starts, as well as the two seconds of silence prior to the sound starting up (almost giving a fright when it happens almost unexpectedly) up until around 1984-1985 is another thing that had always looked terrifying to me. I always associate the scratches prior to old PIFs made in the 1970s, and so obviously as they were been seen along with adverts from that time, one would have seen that on a regular basis.
    I agree - it really feels like they captured a bygone age; the era of quaint and experimental TV adverts, choppy transmission technology and in-vision continuity. I used to love it when the presenter would appear briefly between the programs. I am a proud Devon boy, so for me it was TSW (Television South West) in-vision continuity. The sets always looked so cosy, with the presenter sitting in an armchair, surrounded by the 'tasteful' decor of the era. It was even better at Christmas when the docorations came out.

    As for those silences before the adverts, they always used to bewilder me. Some adverts randomly opened for perhaps a whole second with no sound, until it suddenly 'popped in'. What was frustrating then is nostalgic now.

    Thankfully, YouTube is a goldmine. Hundreds of hours of old adverts from the '70s, '80s and the '90s, complete with continuity, idents, newsflashes and the like.

    And yet, as you say, watching that 1980s world now, in this age of the smartphone and broadband, it seems like another world. Slightly sinister, for reasons I cannot quite articulate, perhaps because adverts then were not such a business, calculated to manipulate and exploit us. Would we get the Smash Martians today? The Tefal men? The creepy animated Jaffa Cake and sexy Cadbury's Caramel bunny? Probably not!

    PIFs, though - that's a whole forum thread itself. Somebody should start one!

    REMEMBER: cream first, jam second...



  10. #10

    Default Re: Adverts that terrified you as a kid

    I don't watch that much live telly nowadays, so my exposure to modern ad-breaks is limited. However, my impression is that in the 70s and 80s there were many more ads for humdrum products like baked beans and fish fingers, whereas today there seem to be far more ads for services.


    Is the Black Magic man still delivering chocolates in modern ad-breaks? As I said, I watch little live telly, so don't know, but I would be surprised if those ads were still thought appropriate now. I can imagine all sorts of outrage on social media if that kind of ad was shown. Also, what about the Cadbury's Flake lady and her evident appreciation for that fine piece of confectionery? I suspect that would be another problematic ad. The chimps that were used to advertise tea? Not a chance.

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