Five Creepy Commercials of the Last Several Decades

by Les Hewitt

Do Creepy Commercials Get Consumers To Buy?

The entire premise behind advertising is to promote a given product or service. In order to do that, an advertising agency has to be both inventive and imaginative. To simply produce a copy of an already existing advertising idea or concept would not do the intended job properly. It would be irresponsible for an agency to promote a client’s product or service in such a way. There are different ways to advertise, and listed below in no particular order are some of the more creepy commercials to hit the airwaves over the last several decades.

creepy commercialsPhones 4u

In the UK, the mobile phone industry has been steadily growing at a constant rate. Teenagers that are still in school often have the newest smartphones. To capitalize on this, a production company called Hammer & Tongs developed an advertisement aimed at increasing the High Street retailer Phones 4u demographic. Aidan McClure and Laurent Simon, who devised the 30-second commercial, hoped that any controversy created would serve that purpose. When people filed complaints, a company statement insisted that they designed the advertisement, one of a series at the time, to build tension and not frighten viewers. Phones 4u filed for bankruptcy several years after the commercial aired.

Kinder Surprise/Eggs

Originally launched in 1974, these tiny chocolate treats have delighted their targeted audience of children for almost 40 years now. The majority of children are fond of chocolate as a foodstuff, and with the added bonus of a free toy inside the Kinder Egg, it was only natural that they become big sellers the world over. However, the fact that the egg contained the hidden toy, which usually came in the form of a kit and required construction, led to some problems. UK guidelines recommend that no child under the age of 36 months should have access to the confectionery. In the USA, they are banned outright.

This 1980s advertisement didn’t exactly help matters either. Humpty Dumpty’s evil twin was an idea that the Kinder Egg maker Ferrero conceived of. At the time of the advertising campaign, Ferrero’s CEO was Michele Ferrero. Apparently, the company failed to recognize that the emotional scarring of young children was not conducive to increase global sales.

Little Baby’s Ice Cream

In addition to chocolate, ice cream must rank as one of any child’s most popular snacks. Meet Malcolm, a weird marketing concept for Little Baby’s Ice Cream. Pete Angevine co-founded this independent Philadelphia ice-cream parlor. When the commercial made its debut, the Philadelphia Weekly asked him about the concept. Angevine told reporters that he considered ice-cream advertising as something of a blank canvas where imagination should roam free and go wild.

Perhaps things went a little too wild. Malcolm is an ice cream humanoid, and throughout the minute-long footage, he stares blankly at the screen – at the audience – while he eats his own head. Is there any advertisement more bizarre and creepy than this one? Perhaps the second commercial that they made was.scary

Dark & Lonely Water

This was not a  commercial per se, but a Public Service Announcement (PSA). It was released in 1978 and ended up being voted as 4th best PSA film of all time. Perhaps it was due to the message that it was sending, or the master-stroke of hiring actor Donald Pleasence to provide the voice-over. This PSA initially held a more sinister title of The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water, and while makers designed it to warn children about the dangers around bodies of water, they may have instilled more than a sense of caution.

This PSA did a fantastic job of warning people so much so, that this chilling film concluded with a stark and disturbing message that persuaded many youngsters to not only take care around rivers and lakes but to actually give up swimming altogether and to fear puddles of rainwater.


During 1999 in Berlin, the advertising agency Jung von Matt created this German television commercial. Six years after its television debut, the video made its way onto the internet and has the distinction of being among the very first videos to make it onto YouTube. In the example below, a serene drive in the country is interrupted by a demonic looking creature that appeared out of nowhere to scream directly into the camera. Despite the fact that the ad does not mention the name of the company or drink that it’s supposed to market, the commercial was still a remarkable and memorable piece of work. This was just one of several creepy commercials that followed a similar jump-scare theme.

Do Scary Commercials Work?

All of these creepy commercials had the desired result without getting anywhere close to the intended effect. The ends could actually justify the means, and who knows, perhaps that was the whole point of them. Publicity is just another type of advertising and any publicity can be good with the right spin doctors on hand. Additional examples of equally unnerving, sinister, and scary commercials can be found using any of the links given below. Next time you fast-forward through adverts during a recording of your favorite television show, be careful: you might just miss something really bizarre.

The Drum 

Sites pulled 15 March 2016

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