Adverts Costume Ideas

Adverts & Commercials Fancy Dress Theme

Adverts and Commercials may seem like a good idea for a theme party and at Props & Frocks it is one that will crop up on occasion. The problem with adverts is that they are somewhat transitory and in order to make an impact they have to be seen several times.  Admittedly there are many more adverts around these days, thanks to extra TV channels and other ‘media outlets’ such as the Internet. Unfortunately sometimes the product message gets lost and people can remember the ad content, but not what it was selling. Similarly, an advertising character or scenario may be based on (or inspired by) a contemporary media icon or event and so may have a limited ‘shelf-life’. This is especially true where a licensed character may ‘promote’ a given brand or product during the life-span of a new film or TV programme.

Some adverts have survived to become memorable in their own right long after their ‘inspiration’ is gone and others have become indelibly linked with their product. Do you remember Tony the Frosties Tiger, or the Sugar Puffs Honey Monster?

If you are holding an adverts party one of the good icebreakers is actually a) to guess who/what the person has come as and b) what product(s) they are “selling”.

Obviously at an adverts party, many may derive their costumes from the commercials and adverts currently being shown (including the Go Compare costumes which give you lots of flexible costume potential) but indulging in a bit of TV nostalgia, we have a few suggestions for advert-based characters from recent eras.

The Milk Tray Man: For many years, this character, inspired by the devil-may-care stunts of action heroes, climbed mountains, dived from high cliffs and generally risked all to deliver a box of chocolates to increasingly outlandish locations – “All Because The Lady Loves Milk Tray” .In a brief reversal of roles, there was one ‘episode’ where the Man turned out to be a Woman, but in a further sacrifice to Political Correctness, the Milk Tray Man was axed in 2003 because, it was said, he was “too macho”. The MTM was usually clad in black and depending on the scenario:- ski-suit, jumpsuit, turtle-neck and slacks, plus, of course, the chocolates.

The Milky Bar Kid: Another character who stood the long-term test of Time having first appeared in 1961: In a Wild West setting (populated by children playing adults) some crisis was coming to a head – shoot out in the Saloon, Stagecoach hold-up, etc.. Suddenly our hero arrives on the scene “It’s the Milky Bar Kid!”, and the bespectacled cowboy, toting the said confectionery would resolve the situation and save the day. Cue tag bar piano music “The Milky Bar Kid is strong and tough, and only the best is good enough…” The Kid still occasionally resurfaces (we think the last time was 2007), but as many grew up with him, he’s a potentially popular choice especially as cowboys generally continue to be a male costume favourite. Our western range includes everything from cowboys, saloon girls & sheriff costumes, and accessories including Stetson hats

The Sisters of Murphys: With a name-play on the ‘Sisters of Mercy’ nuns who do charitable works and a look straight out of Charlie’s Angels, this female trio spent a time in the 1990s promoting Murphys Irish Stout, by rescuing hapless individuals (or their drinks) from hazardous situations (beer in peril on a bar-billiards table, chandelier out of a clear blue sky, that sort of thing).

The look was leather/ PVC (or similar) jumpsuits or crop-tops and high hair. Tagline:‘Drink to the Sisters of Murphys’

George the Hoffmeister Bear: In Germany, the bear is a symbol of strength and hence is often used as a logo element for beer. Thus if you have a German-sounding beer to sell in this country, the use of a bear to advertise it suggests itself. Being Britain it had to be street-cred, hence George, the jack-the-lad bear in the yellow jacket, ‘George’ T-Shirt and trilby. The tagline was ‘Follow the Bear’, and he spent some time as a culture icon – even being sited as a bad role-model by some. Amongst one of the more unusual spin-offs was a George hot-air balloon – registration G-HEYY!

The Cadburys Gorilla: One of the more recent additions to the advertising icons fold, people still are not quite sure what a drumming gorilla has to do with chocolate. From the practical point of view, playing a drum-kit in a full gorilla suit (we have costumes to hire)  is not that easy, although determined individuals have been known to try.  We would suggest that at a party, one could either substitute a small drum-kit (or single drum), or a Cadburys Chocolate bar!

Crocodile Dundee; Which came first, Crocodile Dundee or the Fosters Lager Man? They were both Paul Hogan playing a similar role, although for Fosters he was taking time to extol the virtues of ‘The Amber Nectar’ whilst acting bemused (or shocked) at the ways of the British.

The Scottish Widows woman: In 1981 the film ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ came to the cinemas and featured a scene in which the woman of the title, Sarah, is seen as a lone figure waiting the return of her lover on the breakwater at Lyme Regis. Her black hooded cloak outfit caught the public imagination and thereafter several adverts made use of either the outfit, or the scene, as the basis of their pitch. Although the firm is long gone, the Scottish Widows woman (or at least her hooded cape look) has survived to the current day.

The Thomson Directory cats: The blue Thomson Directory has for some time used a cat as its ‘logo’. In the 1980s’ adverts it used a cartoon tabby called Thomson, aided by celebrities such as Cilla Black. In the mid 2000’s, they decided to inject some girl-power into their adverts and had an athletic lady in a blue catsuit outwitting a slower dog-like character with her superior knowledge under the tag-line ‘Information comes out of the Blue’. Interestingly the cartoon cat (albeit blue) now seems to have returned.

Pick Up A Penguin: This probably needs little explanation other than using the P-P-Pick Up A Penguin (it is/was a chocolate biscuit bar) is a good use for a penguin suit!We stock penguin costumes to hire and purchase

Weetabix Kids: As with many other ‘commercial characters’, these were never produced for the main market, but for a time these ‘Kids’ (the males of whom looked rather like skinhead bovver-boys) were quite popular and were ‘improvised’ at many a costume party..

Tetley Tea Folk: Two major tea firms generated long term popular characters – whilst PG Tips had its chimps, Tetley had its tea folk – chaps in white coats (use our Doctor’s coat) and flat caps with northern accents. They even did a little tea-dance!

Miniature Heroes: When the Milk Tray Man was dropped because of his supposed excess of ‘male macho’, many ridiculed the decision, claiming it to be another example of Political Correctness gone wrong. Some suggested that Cadburys might have to rename their Miniature Heroes chocolates “Confectionary Role Models for those of Restricted Growth”. What actually happened was that they are now just called ‘Heroes’, but here we have an excellent opportunity for children to dress either as superheroes or the actual chocolates in question – especially a mini-Milk Tray Man!

Other characters that spring to mind:

The ‘Tango-man: Controversial orange sumo-wrestler-style character who ‘tangoed’ people (ie. clouted them round the head to simulate the stunning effect of the sparkling drink). The adverts were withdrawn after children started imitating him. We stock orange facepaint to Tango yourself!

Bradford & Bingley: Originally the Bradford and Bingley Building Society were ‘represented by two bowler-hatted gents (Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley). Nowadays it’s a girl in a green suit and bowler hat!

The Smurfs: The Smurfs (of Belgian origin) have recently celebrated their 50th birthday, but at one time they were called in to help advertise the now defunct National petrol brand.

Cornetto Singer: A long running popular series based on an Italianate opera-singer (or similar) serenading his beloved to the tune of ‘Oh Solo Mio’ but sung as ‘Just One Cornetto’ and then stealing the ice-cream in the final frames!

The Bisto Kids: Now phased out (subject to a ‘retro’ return, like that of the recent return of the Hovis boy), these were a couple of ragamuffin-style children drawn to the dinner table with the tag-line ‘Ah, Bisto’.

We hope we have given you a few ideas for your Adverts theme party.  Although there are some characters in the above list that are subject to copyright, we have a number of alternatives that would give the basic look of the character.  Naturally, we also have many other costumes and accessories to help create your particular look.  Contact Props & Frocks to see how we can help.

What advert would you dress up as, drop us a line, your ideas will help others…

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