There's been a wave of nostalgia for advertising of the past recently. There have been suggestions that today's advertising has been dumbed down, with creatives turning to social media to share examples of campaigns from a time when advertisers gave consumers something to think about with clever combination of visuals and copy.
But on the flip side of that, here's an example of some retro advertising that was just downright creepy. And from none other than the fun children's toy company Hasbro. Just don't expect any children to be asking for this from Father Christmas this year (for a present that's likely to be more welcome, see our pick of the best tablets for students).
What were Hasbro smoking in 1965? pic.twitter.com/eGt7BD71ZRNovember 14, 2022
Shared on Twitter by the appropriately named Scarred for Life, the Hasbro ad from 1965 promotes a doll that looks more like a character we would expect from Tim Burton or even Chucky from Child's Play than from the make of My Little Pony and Peppa Pig.
The voiceover starts all warm and fuzzy... "have you ever wanted someone to take care of?" before introducing Little Miss No Name, "the doll who needs more loving care" than any doll you've ever had." She does indeed. Look, she has a tear on her cheek. And she's dressed in rags and doesn't have any shoes. But we're told that behind those big brown eyes is a heart filled with love.
"I suppose it makes a change from Barbie's Instagram-worthy lifestyle," Scarred for Life wrote on Twitter (opens in new tab). "Little Miss No Soul would've been a better name," one person suggested. "That doll has tasted blood," someone else wrote.
Some people wonder how the toy got approved. "They must have pitched this as a joke, and then didn’t know what to do when someone approved it," someone suggested. But as someone else has pointed out, it was probably inspired by the artist Margaret Keane's paintings of big-eyed children that were popular at the time. "Little Miss Margaret Keane's lawyers would like a word with Hasbro," one person tweeted.
According to the website toytales.ca, the doll was designed by Deet D’Andrade. Little Miss No Name came in a burlap sack with patches and a safety pin and was apparently on sale for a few years but didn't do very well. There was even an advertising campaign on the back of packs of Borden's Dutch Instant Hot Chocolate.
While the doll may not have been the success Hasbro had hoped for, she did turn up in a video for a Babes in Toyland ack in 1990. It seems she finally found the role that was made for her.
On the one hand Little Miss No Name makes a very refreshing change from the spoiled and ostentatious glamour of Barbie, who was launched on the market just six years earlier in 1959. On the other, it feels almost as if Hasbro's marketing strategy here is to guilt trip people into taking in their poor doll to look after it. Sadly, Barbie is still living it up today, while Little Miss No Name is of interest only to very dedicated collectors.