Quirky, peculiar and sometimes downright outrageous, soft drink advertisements have often courted controversy due to a trend towards off-the- wall campaigns. Shock tactics and unconventional subject matter are all part and parcel of reeling in the much-sought-after youth market. We take a closer look at some of the weird and wonderful soft drink TV ads that have brightened up our screens over the years, including the good, the bad, and the out-and-out freakish.

Tango Tomfoolery

Tango Advert – Scotsman (1994)Video Credit

Ever since the Nineties, Tango ads have been characterised by their deliberate wackiness. The whimsy originated from the first ‘You Know When You’ve Been Tango’d’ ad, which showed a Tango-drinker being slapped around the face by a little round orange man, accompanied by a mock-commentary from pseudo sports-pundits. The ad came up against complaints due to an unfortunate playground copycat craze, so the ad was altered to replace the contentious slap with an extravagant kiss. Over time, the ads grew progressively more bizarre, culminating in a nightmarish commercial depicting a kilted orange man with no legs and a blue afro, whose severed foot attacks an unsuspecting Tango drinker.

Sprite’s Pesky Pixie Promo

Sprite 3G Ad Video Credit

Following a spate of rather middle-of-the-road commercials in the early-2000s, Sprite took a walk on the weird side with their ‘Get the Right Sprite’ campaign. The adverts featured a green, unhealthy-looking imp being presented to confused Sprite drinkers in place of their requested lemon-lime beverage. Geared towards prized mid-twenties audiences, the ads are set in numerous post-party situations, including a kebab shop, a music festival and a petrol station after a night out. Newer, and slightly more revolting Sprite 3G ads flaunted a mother- sprite giving birth to the ‘new member of the Sprite family’ on the top deck of a bus.

Cast Irn Advertising

Irn Bru Snowman Advert Video Credit

Irn Bru, the rust-coloured Scottish concoction, proclaimed itself ‘made in Scotland from girders’ back in the Eighties. But to jazz up their ads for a younger market in 2000, they released a series of black-and-white ads featuring pernicious pensioners, including a plunderous granny who goes on an Irn Bru robbing spree on her motorised wheelchair. Most controversial, however, was the mock-1950s ad featuring a family singing around a piano, at the end of which, in warbling solo, the mother reveals how she used to be a man. Some people deemed the ad potentially offensive and it was subsequently banned. The brand later achieved international acclaim with their ad-parody of classic Christmas cartoon ‘The Snowman’, in which the cuddly character drops his ginger-haired companion mid-flight in order to steal his Irn Bru.

Lemonade Legend

R White’s Lemonade Advert (1973)

Perhaps the most iconic soft drink ad of all time – the R Whites ‘Secret Lemonade Drinker’ – first appeared on screens in 1973. The pyjama-clad lemonade lover, who tiptoes downstairs at night to raid the fridge for clandestine refreshment was originally dubbed by the voice of Elvis Costello’s father, who wrote the catchy rock and roll jingle that ad fans know and love.

All-American Absurdity

Dr Pepper Emergency (Butt Naked Boy) Video Credit

In 2008, Dr Pepper injected some frat-boy humour into their ads with the ‘What’s the Worst that Can Happen?’ campaign, featuring tongue-in-cheek, all-American pastiche. Commercials depicted toe-curlingly embarrassing situations that come about after drinking the uniquely-flavoured fizzy refreshment. Cringe-inducing commercials include a prom-date that descends into wrestling mayhem, a cheerleader losing the padding in her bra and a humiliating visit to the school nurse. However, the most outlandish – and comical – is the ‘Butt-Naked Boy’ episode starring a pre-fame Jesse Eisenberg.

Animal Outrage

Orangina Naturally Juicy Comercial Video Credit

By far the most ludicrous concept of all comes from the very questionable ‘Naturally Juicy’ campaign by Orangina. Following a series of iconic Euro-chic ads in the mid-Eighties, Orangina remained off the radar until 2008, when they released an evocative advert featuring sexed-up woodland animals, including a flirty doe, a macho grizzly, a troupe of provocative peacocks and bizarrely, a lecherous octopus. This raunchy promotion, in which the animals lap-dance, pole-dance, gyrate and suggestively ride Orangina bottles that explode, caused outrage among many who believed it to be grossly inappropriate for a product that was aimed primarily at children and young people.

The Adver-Tizer

Tizer Colours Video Credit

Back in the early-Nineties, Tizer promoted their carbonated crimson fizz with a series of complicated ads in black, white and red featuring seemingly random situations that were concluded by flashing up prefixes that can precede the word Tizer. Deciding this wasn’t ‘out-there’ enough for the young consumer, they replaced these in the mid-90s with Ed the Head, a disembodied red human head, with the top of the skull removed to accommodate Tizer being poured inside. In 2003, they continued on the surreal-theme, with a series of ads that showed, among other things, a chef battling a lobster, and a red chameleon that refused to change colour.

Bonkers Berries

Vimto Lowrider Advert 2011 Bounce and Boom Video Credit

In recent times, Vimto has joined in the lunacy by hyping their fruity pop using a trio of ladykiller berries, including an Eastern European raspberry. With the tagline ‘Seriously Mixed Up Fruit’, the ads show the philandering threesome showing off to the ladies by taking part in activities that result in them getting crushed to juice.

Monster Marketing

Oasis Ruberduckzilla Video Credit

The folks who market Oasis are no strangers to strangeness, what with their mock-‘Badlands’ saga featuring a pregnant teenage runaway and her half-man, half-cactus boyfriend – an ad that was banned due to complaints about condoning teen pregnancy. But in 2009, they surpassed themselves with the RubberDuckZilla campaign, which focused on a gargantuan rubber
duck who hates water. Drawing on the Japanese monster movie genre, the ad follows the bath-toy behemoth on a rampage through the Japanese cityscape, destroying all water-related items in its path, from showers to fountains. The wacky ad, which narrowly escaped a ban for discouraging the consumption of water, ends with the plastic monstrosity sailing into the sunset with two devoted Japanese students perched on its beak.

Canned Craziness – The Strangest Soft Drink Ads Ever was produced by Thorpe Park Breaks; helping you to find perfect hotels near Thorpe Park.