In the early 1990s, Walls changed advertising forever. Needing to find a way to differentiate their sausages from the plethora of other meat tubes on the market, they had a revelation. Talking dogs.

I don’t know this for a fact, but it seems like that this campaign was inspired by the 1970s Esther Rantzen-fronted show That’s Life! The show was a proto-One Show, featuring light-hearted vignettes from across Britain. One such segment was Prince, the talking dog. And his catchphrase: “sausages”.

This was the equivalent of a viral video back then. And it lodged in the collective zeitgeist only to re-emerge in the 90s as a way of selling meat. And hey, if Spuds MacKenzie taught us anything, it’s that DOGS SELL. The subversion is that the dog will only say “Walls!”, not “sausages” – much to the owner’s dismay. Here’s another:

But over time, the message changed. What was once a peaceful co-existence between man and dog turned antagonistic. The dogs weren’t just being disobedient anymore, they were hostile. They actively wanted the sausages now, and in doing so, wanted to deprive man(kind) of having them. And soon things turned nasty.

Round 1 – Walls Kitchen Rumble

This is probably my favourite advert ever. (Sorry Frostie’s Kid).

It begins with the family putting twelve sausages on the grill. To be fair, they appear to be a family of at least five, and that’s quite a few mouths to feed. But I don’t see any evidence of them having anything else with this meal. Just… like two sausages each for dinner is it? Ok.

Anyway, the dog catches wind of the sausages and instantly provokes hostility.

Dog attacks man

The way he screams, oh god, the way he screams.

The dog is then able to push the man all the way across the floor with its momentum. But the man gets up and does a decent job of putting the dog in a grapple. His family look on in shock, except the wife who cooly looks on, arms folded. She has no sympathy for the conflict.

Walls advert - man fights dog

The bit where Dad tries to poke the dog in the eyes is particularly horrifying.

Walls advert - man fights dog

Other scenes include:

  • The man being dragged across the floor, leaving deep scratches in the tile floor
  • The man putting the dog into a full headlock, with the dog attempting to ‘tap out’
  • And, of course, the denouément…

The bit where the man throws the dog out of the window.

Walls advert - man throws dog out window

Dishevelled, but intact, the man staggers to the table and the sausage feast begins.

It’s a thrilling piece of cinema. I’m not entirely sure what the brief for the ad was (“People hate dogs, right?”), but it’s a runaway success that surely led to the dominance of the Walls sausage brand as we all recognise it today.

But this was just one ad, of many. And the violence would only escalate.

Round 2 – Walls Balls

First, let’s address the elephant. in the room. Walls Balls looks like the most disgusting product ever. “Proper sausage in a crunchy coating” is the porcine pseudo-nugget that should never have been. I don’t recall ever seeing the product at the time or since. And frankly: good.

Anyway, we join two young lads tucking into their balls supper. The dogs’ ears perk up at the mention of Walls and we see Dad turning down his paper – he knows trouble is afoot.

The dog leaps the full length of the room but is heroically deflected by Dad. The two engage once again, with a truly gruesome shot of the dog… twisting the man’s nipples? Harrowing stuff.

Walls advert - dog twists man's nipples

After a brief arm wrestle, the dog is distracted by a ball and leaps into a bin. For a time, there is peace again.

Round 3 – The Ultimate Humiliation

I don’t have dates for these ads, but it feels like this one came much later.

Everything about it just screams “the year 2000”. Our two characters (notice the slowly dwindling family unit in these ads, hmm) step directly off the set of A Pint of Lager and a Packet of Crisps into the kitchen. Presumably, they’re just back from a date, when our leading man offers the lady some microwaved sausages. The height of romance.

His dog is immediately furious. And they begin to wrestle into the pantry. He takes a life-changing-injuries bite to the groin, before somehow being stripped of his trousers in a single bite.

The man is, of course, wearing Union Jack boxers. I guess this is meant to be a joke. The dog then wraps up a moistened tea towel and begins to… spank the man?

My first question is why? I don’t understand the dog’s motivation at this point. In earlier bouts, the dispute was over ownership of the sausages. The dog wanted them and would use violence to obtain them. But now the dog isn’t even after the sausages. This is a blood feud.

Anyway, the woman bursts in, sausage sarnie in hand. Observing the scene she decides to call it a night and leaves. The dog bares his teeth at her, but she closes the door before he can attack. And a good thing too!

Again, I don’t understand how this was meant to sell sausages. But hey, it was a different time. And we can prove that by looking at how Walls approached advertising a decade later.

Epilogue: Peace

So this is just awful. It’s just horrible in every way I can think of from a creative standpoint. And it has a pretty toxic message that the man can’t express himself because he’s “just a bloke really”. Cheers for that, advertising!

I’m glad they’re exploring ways of selling ground-up pig flesh that don’t involve violence towards animals. But sometimes you turn on the TV and see stuff like this, and it just makes you feel nostalgic. Nostalgic for a simpler time when you could turn on the TV as a family and enjoy a man punching a dog.