Making an ad around Christmastime is pretty much a slam dunk -- you portray a beautiful family giving your product as a gift, and boom, you're done. If you're selling something that nobody gives as gifts, like cars, who cares? Stick a big red bow on that shit. But people still manage to screw it up, and we like to point out the most horrifying examples.
So here are more old-school holiday ads that make us wonder what the hell the past was thinking.
#9. The 12 Giant Hell-Bats of Christmas
No, this isn't us fucking with you, this is an actual holiday card distributed around the 1890s. We're guessing there must have been a bunch of end-of-the-world anxiety about the year 1900, because in what other context would it make sense to say, "Remember, these pantsless kids riding huge bats are coming for you. Soon. Happy New Year"?
This ad (or greeting card, or prophecy, whatever it was) is an endless pit of horrors -- the longer you stare at it, the more dark secrets reveal themselves. Did you already notice that the demonic children riding those winged nightmares also have wings? And that the children are whipping the giant bats like horses?
#8. "BURN IT! BURN THE TREE! IT IS OF THE DEVIL!"
Clearly what we see here is a Christmas tree that, minutes before, started speaking to the family in an unholy voice, booming with curses in an ancient dead language. The priest was called, and he set the cursed thing ablaze. It was too late to save the mother's sanity.
This is actually an ad for Pyrene fire extinguishers, but it's hilarious even in that context; the father in this photo clearly has no intention of dousing that huge blaze with that little bottle of Pyrene and will instead be bludgeoning that fire to death with his bare hands. That is not a startled father quickly reacting to a household emergency. That is an old man seeing his nemesis return for the last time. "So once again it is just you and I, fire. You have sneaked into my home disguised as a Christmas tree, like a coward. For this, you will die at my fists. Margaret, make Sally watch."
"Damn it, Steve, you're drunk!"
#7. This Child Is a Terrified Hostage
The photograph that woman is taking is about to be mailed to that girl's mother with a ransom demand, possibly with a tiny severed finger included. That weeping girl has no idea where she is or who the monster behind that fine Kodak camera is.
We suppose you could say that, in reality, this is just an ad about a mother photographing her little girl on Christmas morning, and this girl likes to open presents in bed (and the girl is apprehensive because she lives in an era when terror lurks around every corner). But Kodak actually had a whole series of these ads, and each and every one featured a woman photographing a young girl, in her bed, with a doll. Often against the girl's will:
"Move the doll down -- you can still see the handcuffs."
Look close -- we're pretty sure that girl was drugged. So maybe this was a holiday tradition back in the early 1900s? If so, all we can say is that the kids definitely were not on board with that shit.
#6. This Child Is Aroused
OK, this kid is a little too on board with whatever is going on here.
In 1970, GE wanted you to know that their lights were cool to the touch, and this little kid wanted to make sure that was the most awkward thing you learned about all day. Now, it's not this kid's fault that she got a haircut as bowl-shaped and lopsided as one of the Three Stooges, but the look on her face says that either there is something really freaky going on off-camera to the right or she's possessed. You can decide which is creepier.
And while we're on the subject ...
#5. Pantsless Santa Role Playing
We know the 1950s were a simpler, more innocent time, but that does little to make us feel in any way OK with this underwear ad. Seriously, Fruit of the Loom, we'd feel a lot more comfortable if you splurged on separate men's and boy's ads, or maybe just added any kind of context. Instead, it's two grown men and a child standing around in their underwear with just a Santa mask between them. And can we also talk about Santa mask choices? Maybe next time a little less eyebrow raising and come hither whistling? Thanks.
"Oooooooo, look at all that cock!"
Wait a second. Is that a two-way mirror on the other side of the room? Who do we find in there watching ...
OH GOD NO.