tv ads that made us

These 10 nostalgic TV ads truly made us into the people we are today

Cash! Readies! WONGA!!

Sorry, but TV ads are such an underrated art form. Sure, many of them are just capitalist tools; deliberately being as iconic as possible so we’ll want to hand over our hard-earned cash. On the other hand, GORILLA PLAYING THE DRUMS. 

I’ve carefully incorporated each one of these high-camp, legendary, cheese-filled adverts into my personality over the years. I still walk around singing the Crusha song with my mum – and I spent a solid hour laughing at the “WONGA” man when he popped up on my Twitter feed. 

So, sit back, put the telly on and enjoy these 10 TV ads that truly made us:

1. Sheilas’ Wheels

Ah, the noughties. Remember when male corporate executives reckoned women were too ditzy to insure their cars? So, naturally they showed us some gorgeous ladies in sparkly pink dresses riding around in a Cadillac, thinking we’d be like: “OH! Okay. Now I get it.” 

Anyway, despite the annoying sexism, this ad is still pretty iconic. And yes, I still know every word. 

2. Tales of the Road

Sorry, but this ad is literally responsible for my searing anxiety. It still plays in my head on loop every time I turn the lights out; from the creepy voiceover to the Corpse Bride-esque characters, everything about it is nightmare fuel. 

To be fair though, I’m 23-years-old and I’ve still never been hit by a car. So… at least it did something right?

3. Cadbury’s drumming gorilla

Okay, this gorilla looked SERIOUSLY real when I was 10. What happened?

If you don’t remember this TV ad, frankly I feel sorry for you. We were forced to watch it during a primary school assembly, and I truly consider it one of the great turning points in my life. It’s a gorilla. Playing the drums. What more could you want?

4. Johnny Vegas and the PG Tips Monkey

Honestly the most dynamic duo in TV history. I remember when everyone wanted a toy PG Tips monkey, until they just got rid of him one day. One of my earliest betrayals, to be honest. 

5. Crusha


Everything about this ad is deeply ingrained within my personality. Have I ever actually *tried* a glass of Crusha? No! But look at the ska-playing cats. Truly one of the greatest TV ads in modern history.

6. You wouldn’t steal a car

A random internet deep-dive brought me to some unfounded allegations about this ad being guilty of piracy itself. It would’ve been a great story to tell the grandkids, but it sadly isn’t true. Nevertheless, if you didn’t spend your childhood bopping along to the intense music and police sirens without actually reading the words, you haven’t lived*.

*Well, either that, or you were actually the ones pirating Madagascar on DVD. 

7. Barry Biscuit Boy

Is this niche? Probably, but it has nearly 1 million views on YouTube, so at least it’s well-loved. I love a bit of macabre weirdness during my ad breaks, and Cravendale’s 2014 offering was probably the most random of all. 

The concept? A boy made of biscuits dunks himself in a milk pool and his head falls off. To me, this is cinema.

8. The Shreddies Knitting Nanas

This ad used to annoy me inexplicably when I was younger, but now it’s just nostalgic. I haven’t really eaten Shreddies since I was 13 – but the grannies are so cute I couldn’t not add them to the list. 

9. WONGA!!! (Envirofone)

Good afternoon to the WONGA man and the WONGA man only, tbh. I’m unashamed to say a middle-aged man shouting “WONGA!” is funnier than the entirety of Rebel Wilson’s opening BAFTA monologue. 

In fact, he became such a national treasure that Envirofone started centering him in his own ads. 

Wonga man, if you’re reading this, I love you. 

10. Lelli Kelly

The way I screamed; cried; threw up and begged my mum to get me a pair of these (as well as the Clarks school shoes with a secret toy compartment). It wasn’t meant to be, and if you had a pair of Lelli Kellies I’m automatically seething with jealous rage. 

I adore this advert, because honestly who didn’t sing the jingle in an overly-American voice? A work of art.

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