I won't sleep tonight after watching this terrifying 1960s toy ad

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).

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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.

Little Miss No Name toy doll

Little Miss No Name, the doll who begs you to buy her (Image credit: Hasbro)

"I suppose it makes a change from Barbie's Instagram-worthy lifestyle," Scarred for Life wrote on Twitter. "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.

Margaret Keane big eyes portrait

One of Margaret Keane's "big eyes" paintings (Image credit: Margaret Keane)

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.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.