Sunday, October 05, 2014

Horror Advertising in Print

These days, slick, expensive ad campaigns are part and parcel with big-budget horror films and even TV shows (HBO wrote the book on viral ads for True Blood). But for decades, print advertising ruled the day, until it gave way to television and then finally the Internet.

In the late 1920s, around the same time that promotional advertisements were cropping up for horror shows, the monsters themselves were starting to be used to sell products.

The Globe, September 13, 1927

This Gilson Magic Furnace ad from 1927, which actually predates the advertisement for the theatrical production of Dracula (above), started appearing in newspapers. Here, the vampire's modus operandi is being used to warn of the dangers of coal gas.

Subtle, to be sure, but as advertising budgets increased, so did the creativity of the ads themselves.

Paul Ford, Smirnoff ad (1967)

Often appearing during October, these types of ads were usually designed to be tongue-in-cheek. Although there are surely countless of these floating around in magazines, newspapers, and TV guides, I've collected a small sampling of some of my favourites.

This ad for Smirnoff vodka, from 1967, features character actor Paul Ford as Frankenstein's Monster--who fears Bloody Marys unless they're made with Smirnoff!

Vincent Price, Emba Mink ad (1970s)

Beginning in the 1970s, horror actor Vincent Price started appearing in all types of advertising, promoting practically everything and anything.

This ad is for Emba Mink was part of a larger campaign that featured other prominent male actors, including Robert Preston, Larry Hagman, Tony Randall, Victor Borge, Ricardo Montalban, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Next up are a couple of Slim Jim ads that were printed in comic books in the mid-1970s. These featured Dracula and the Wolf Man, drawn by renowned artist and illustrator Jack Davis.

Slim Jim Dracula ad, art by Jack Davis (1975)

Slim Jim Wolf Man ad, art by Jack Davis (1975)

Vampires have always been a favourite of mine; here are a couple of ads from '80s and '90s. The first is for Freedent gum, and the second spoofs the "Got Milk" campaign, featuring Leslie Nielsen as the Count from Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995).

Freedent gum ad (c.1989)

TV Guide ad for Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)

So ends week one of 31 Days of Horror (2014 edition). Next up is werewolf week, when I'll be highlighting all sorts of interesting pop culture lycanthropes!

31 Days of Horror (2014 edition) continues tomorrow...


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