Being the well-known fictional (and public domain) character that he is, Scrooge gets used quite a bit during the holiday season to hawk all kinds of merchandise. Invariably, he is portrayed as being made happy by their product, showing that they have completely missed the message in his story. “Oh, Scrooge would have been a nicer, happier person if he had eaten our cereal, drank our whiskey (oh, so much whiskey), or relaxed in our recliner!” I think Dickens would not have approved. But it’s interesting seeing these various uses and misuses of our favorite ex-meanie.
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Scanned from a 1971 copy of “Life” magazine.
Why the plethora of whiskey ads featuring Ebenezer? Well, one could say that the connection is that Scrooge has always been associated with “Spirits.” However, few of the ads takes this approach in their copy. As an advertising copywriter myself, it seems to be the most obvious angle to take!
Below: A page from Illustrated London News, Vol. 143, 1913 (030 ILL), dated 20th December 1913. It shows how far back the Scrooge/whiskey advertising connection goes.
Illustrated London News contained lots of advertisements. This page is advertising scotch whisky and states that it is ‘suitable for Christmas Presents’ and uses an image of Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present, from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Illustrated London News was the world’s first illustrated weekly news magazine. It was founded by Herbert Ingram. Its inaugural issue appeared in 1842. The magazine was published weekly until 1971 and then less frequently after that. The company continues today as Illustrated London News Ltd., a publishing and digital agency in London, England.
The recording from the album advertised below can be bought on this site!
In the ad below, Scrooge is leering just a bit too much, as if he’s thinking something naughty about that massaging shower head. Or is it just me?
And even Dickens himself is dragged into the world of advertising for Scotch!