Adverts That Haunt My Dreams

Belly’s Gonna Get Ya

Lots of scary things emerged from the 00s… I’m not talking about aggressively gelled, frosted tips or incessantly bedazzled flip phones, I’m talking about the monstrously wobbling, 10-foot-tall, motorbike-riding belly. The belly that’s gonna get ya. 

To put it bluntly, this advert scared me shitless as a child. More than the unabating bombardings from the GoCompare Man and Cillit Bang’s Barry Scott. A quick word with me mam and she’ll tell you about the sheer levels of speed and agility that possessed me the moment this ad would bewitch my TV, with its deafening cacophony and terrifying, beer-bellied titan. Not to mention the ear-splitting shouts of “IS IT GONE YET” from myself, hiding in the passage…

Upon reflection, Reebook’s Frankenstein-esque creation is a quintessential British masterpiece, with everything from the dry humour to the drab, lacklustre shopping centre and even the grotesque stray hairs on the bulging belly. The camera panning to the strapline on the sole of the victim’s shoe, “Lose Your Beer Belly” is really the cherry on top; combined with an action-packed showdown, this neatly encompasses Reebok’s proposition of “Whatever your goal”. I rank Belly’s Gonna Get Ya very highly in my personal advertising scrapbook, however, I don’t think this ad has aged very well,  with its fat-shaming messaging…

Get Unhooked

The average smoker needs over 5,000 cigarettes per year. That’s the message from the Department of Health’s undeniably disturbing “Get Unhooked” campaign. Get Unhooked spotlights the controlling nature of tobacco and in 2007 was the ad that received the most complaints. The dismal colour palette and creepy, horror-movie-esque music, sets a sombre, spine-chilling and desolate tone. Viewers are literally pulled in through powerful imagery and harsh sounds, making it memorably sticky. The unresponsiveness and disregard from co-workers reflects the feelings of loneliness and isolation smokers feel when struggling with and wanting to overcome addiction. Despite the campaign receiving over 700 complaints for scaring children, in hindsight a smoking ad that frightened kids is probably a good thing?! I personally think the shock tactic is very hard-hitting and effective, especially a solution and call to action is clearly highlighted, this being that the NHS are here to help and you do not have to face this alone. 

Think! Tales of the Road

“The car drove right into her guts”. This quote in particular has stuck with me. It’s direct, unexpected and graphic, especially for an ad targeted at young children. There’s also something about the tone of voice and soft-spoken Northern accent that is sinister and eerie. Little side-track here, but growing up, I used to watch a programme called Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids, this ad reminds me of the macabre episodes that traumatised me, such as the Spaghetti Man, The Barber of Civil and Mr Peeler’s Butterflies (episodes are hotlinked so you can have a sneak peak in my twisted little noggin). The Coraline, doll-like characters with huge expressive eyes is also what stuck in my brain. Looking through their lens, the last thing you would see are the car’s beaming, burning headlights; the thought of your eyes widening with fear in that very moment is a powerful image. To this day, I still don’t know if the children are dead, and are actually ghosts reflecting on their previous lives and attempting to warn others, this being the children of my generation. Despite this ad being particularly traumatic to 8-year-olds, I do think this campaign has effectively conveyed the key message of stop, look and listen, whilst provoking thoughts at a young age that this can happen to anyone, including yourself, which is why the campaign has stuck with me all this time. 

Honourable Mentions

Dog Breath

It’s just SO gross. I feel like I can genuinely smell this advert. Every time I watch it, the stench of wet dogs and pedigree chum floods my nostrils. I love it (the ad, not the smell of pedigree chum). From the mangey choice of dog to the splodge of wet dribble on the floor, this is top quality, disturbing stuff. 

Piracy It’s A Crime

Growing up in the 2000s, this advert was iconic. Everything about it is so perfectly 2007, from the dramatic, techno-ish music (which ironically, was actually pirated), to the bold, gritty capitalised font and the sudden camera cuts and angles. It is a quintessential staple of any 2000’s baby childhood. If I ever have grandkids and they ask me what was my childhood like? Best believe this is the first thing I am showing them (poor kids). 

Bedtime Stories

The fact that this ad haunts me isn’t a bad thing, it has kept me in check. Since I was a kid I have been an adamant serial switch-turner-offer, which is proving even more helpful now with the wretched costs of living. The fact that this ad got pulled, in my opinion, is more distressing than the rest of these combined, my conclusion is that most do not want to face the reality, scale and impact of climate change.


Related SCABs

Go back

Student Application

  • Fill out the Application Form below to be a part of our next Award-Winning intake.

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY