From a monster with a sweet tooth to singing butter, the 1980s had its own unique collection of TV adverts. See some of the UK’s favourite 80s TV ads here…
Chewits – The Muncher Menace Advert
“The Muncher Menace” by Chewits is an advertisement set in a world war era of London, where a large green monster is terrorising the city. This public information style advert advises those worried about the menace to always have a supply of chewits available so that the monster is distracted by eating chewits rather than destroying the city. Whilst this doesn’t seem to be a long term solution to the problem, it creates a cute light-hearted advert with a strong association between the Muncher Menace and the Chewits brand. From 1998, this character was reintroduced as “Chewie”.
Milky Way – Red Car Vs Blue Car Advert
First composed and produced by Mike Connaris in 1989, this advert aimed at children illustrates a story of a race between a red car and a blue car. In this advert we watch the red car eating everything in its path, from trucks to cacti, which leaves him feeling full and heavy, falling down a gap in the road. The blue car takes a different route, knowing that the fluffy and light milky way will allow him to win the race, he easily leaps over the gap in the road and goes on to win. It’s a very unusual tale of course but highlights a milky way as a tasty treat that doesn’t go overboard.
The song itself was proven to be very popular, with the tune adapted to a song called “Home for Christmas Day” which entered the christmas charts in 1991. You can listen to it on Spotify here.
This advert was recreated in 2009, with some changes in lyrics to appeal to a more modern audience, referring less to appetite and more to taste. The original vocalist Bob Saker sang both versions making it impossible to tell the difference.
Cornetto – Just one Cornetto Advert
In this iconic advert that has been recreated many times over the years, a gondolier is singing about his desire for a cornetto to the tune of “O Sole Mio” a classic Neopolitan song from the late 1800s. He snatches the cornetto of a woman standing on a bridge above him, only for her to snatch it back when he exits the bridge on the other side.
Whilst it’s difficult to understand how the cone didn’t break to pieces between the exchanges between the Gondolier and the woman on the bridge, this advert has facilitated a strong connection between a cornetto and its now signature theme tune, developing a strong advertisement which is known across generations.
Aquafresh – Animated Family Advert
As you’ll find quite often in this list, 80s advertisers loved to use a catchy tune for their television adverts. This Aquafresh advert highlights that their toothpaste focuses on 3 different benefits combined, appealing to the needs of the whole family rather than one member. Whilst their need to use three separate tubes of toothpaste in one bathroom is questionable, having a catchy memorable advert for a product which is highly competitive is sure to make more consumers pick up a tube of Aquafresh during their next weekly shop.
Glade Shake n’ Vac Advert
Gender stereotyping at its finest. This advert features Jenny Logan having a great time adding Shake n’ Vac carpet freshener to her carpets before vacuuming. This advertisement was created by the Benton and Bowles advertising agency. This advertisement was close to featuring in our top 70s tv advert list, as it was due to be launched in 1979, however due to an ITV industrial action its debut showing was delayed until 1980.
This advert is highly recognised by a number of polls, being voted the most popular TV jingle by the Daily Telegraph, and ranking in numerous greatest TV adverts list shows on Channel 4 and ITV.
Cadburys – All Because The Lady Loves Milk Tray – Advert
In this popular James Bond-style advert, the original Milk Tray man played by Gary Myers goes to great lengths to deliver a box of chocolates to a woman, “all because the lady loves milk tray”. These great lengths include cliff diving and swimming in shark-infested waters, which we can only assume was the norm before Deliveroo and Amazon Prime. As with most of the adverts on this list, the Milk Tray advert has been recreated multiple times over the years, even with competitions to become the next Milk Tray man or woman.
Toshiba – Hello Tosh Gotta Toshiba? Advert
You can tell that technology has really come a long way after watching this 80s advert selling the latest Toshiba television set. In a sci-fi style advert, a blueprint drawing of a man complete with measurements and shape components presents the television set, highlighting the compact size and durability. The tune and lyrics for this advert were inspired by Alexi Sayle’s comedic song entitled – “Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?”.
Um Bongo – They Drink it in the Congo Advert
Originally created under the Libby’s brand, the Um Bongo drink is still sold in the United Kingdom and Portugal, so I think it’s safe to say it’s not common to drink it in the congo. With bright colours and eye-catching animation, the advert tells of the fictional origin story of Um Bongo, created by a Hippo combining a number of fruits together to create a new drink. The recipe itself has gone through a number of changes over the years, to remove artificial ingredients and to reduce its sugar percentages, but still remains a commonly known and loved product in the UK.
Lurpak – Douglas the Butterman Advert
In this gentle and soothing advert, a portion of butter on top of a crumpet comes to life as Douglas the Butterman (originally referred to as Larry Lurpack), singing about all the reasons why Lurpak is the butter to buy. Douglas has a character created by Aardman Animations, most commonly known for Wallace and Gromit. It is also rumoured that Douglas is a descendant of Morph, another character creation from Aardman.
Douglas the Butterman last appeared on our screens in 2003, however, this 1980s advert is probably one of the most remembered of all his appearances.
Smiths Crisps – “We want to be Smiths Crisps!” Advert
Finally, on our list, we have Smith’s Crisps’ singing spuds advert. In this advert, the farmer is ready to harvest potatoes to get turned into crisps, but the animated potatoes under the ground only want to be picked if they’ll be turned into Smiths Crisps. The tagline for this advert reads “So good. Every potato wants to be one”. Smith’s has Britain’s first manufacturer of crisps, producing 90% of the UK’s crisps in 1934, Smith’s was also the first manufacturer of crisps that contained salt packets. Smiths was unsurprisingly bought by walkers in 1989, but with this advert, the history of Smiths still lives on.
Did your favourite 80s TV advert appear on our list? Let us know in the comments.