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Nightmare Fuel: Advertising

"I was scared of death before I saw that. Now I'm scared of life!"
Russell Brand, on old British government PSA's

Attentive readers may notice that most of these are Public Service Announcements. This is no accident.

Particularly scary commercials can become a Memetic Mutation, and in decades' time fall into Pop-Cultural Osmosis. Unfortunately, the side effect is that nobody can remember, "What Were They Selling Again??"

Talk about Well Intentioned Extremists.


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    Product Advertising 
  • Those paint ads that are only a few seconds long and feature nothing but a creepily grinning person painted from head to toe and asking you if you've found what you're looking for. They can be quite startling if you don't know what's going on.
  • This horrible ad produced by Scion manages to make something that would be Narm (IE, people with square heads) and turn it into horror with the use of Body Horror, Nightmare Valley and What Were They Selling Again?.
    • And then there's the ending, where the one guy who doesn't have a square head is tased and put in the box, and his terrified screams are muffled by the website, which is even creepier.
  • There was a series of Volkswagen commercials that, at first, seemed rather simple and aimless, featuring friends talking about whatever silly little subject comes to mind, when suddenly, BAM! Car accident. No one is hurt, but the commercial then cuts to one of the friends looking at the wreckage, saying "Holy-", the commercial cutting off to the pricing and safety features of the car. Example
  • An ad for the game Turok: Evolution showed two people swinging on a swing-set when suddenly, at random, the boy's hand becomes slashed and bleeds. Roars are heard and it cuts to numerous dinosaurs running about. It then cuts back to the boy and girl, both screaming. Cut to more dinosaurs before the final cut of the swingset, which has red mulch and a broken, red swingset seat.
  • There was a set of commercials for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. During which, people around the world watched on as the moon slowly descended upon them. A radio show took calls and kept a countdown going. In one ad, it showed a boy, playing alone in a white room, sweat rolling down his forehead while he continuously glances upwards... at the end, everybody is running for their lives... here's the link.
  • The commercials for the Goldwater Law Firm (the one that defends people who die or suffered from the side effects of medical products) play some incredibly unsettling, horror movie-type music in the background. It also doesn't help that they're talking about the horrible side effects of certain medical products. Here's a link.
  • Orkin had a series of commercials in which a creepy person repeatedly tries to get into suburban homes using a variety of flimsy stories, such as delivering a pizza, his car broke down and he wants to call his brother, etc. The creepy part is that the person is a six-foot tall termite/ant/cockroach. Not guy in a cute costume, but a giant, talking insect that sounds like a serial killer. One can hope that someone thought it would be funny, perhaps they wanted it to be just a little creepy. What they managed was "Giant alien insects are going to try and con their way into your homes to rape you and dangle your intestines from the ceiling". That would suffice better for an ad for a new shotgun.There's another one where a giant mosquito tries to get into a pool with a couple that where having a romantic moment. He drops his swimsuit and asks "are we...dipping skinny" before the Orkin guy shows up.
    • This one has a vacationing family return to find two rats playing guitar in their living room. One of the rats says "You were not supposed to be back until Sunday." and then adds "we could use the boy on drums" in this menacing tone that sounds like he's going to rape and murder them all then and there. Makes the Orkin guy practically look like a Big Damn Hero.
    • And just when you thought it couldn't get worse... During the 2011 bedbug scare in New York City, Orkin released a new commercial about a woman chatting with someone in a singles bar...a someone that was another six-foot, realistic looking bedbug. That alone is terrifying, but the ending sees the bedbug asking her, "What do you say we go back to your place?" Considering what kind of creature this is, and where you find them, the Unfortunate Implications couldn't be any clearer.
  • Buy Macintosh. Or be frozen alive in your cryogenic chamber.
  • There was an ad for Wrigley's in the UK that showed a man retching and spitting up a dog (literal "dog breath") after a night's heavy drinking. It was banned after more than 700 complaints that it had terrified both child and adult viewers alike. Obligatory YouTube link.
  • German ads for K-fee energy drink. These ads were Screamer Pranks, starting off with a calm environment... then a goblin or zombie (depending on the ad) would come out and scream its freaking head off and then say that "You've never been so awake". What's funny though is that they parodied three of them for their decaf version.
    • Another variation is often referred to as the "Ghost Car Ad" due to the prank associated with the ad- telling people that a ghost appears when the car goes around the bend. It doesn't, it's another zombie screaming its head off. Check it out!
  • Maynard's wine gums ads. Not so much scary as just creepily hallucinatory. Even the bus stop poster ads were disturbing!
  • This ad for Danish Bacon, modeled after the Exorcist. The full version of the ad, which showed the girl snarling and a creaking noise playing as her head spins round, was removed from TV after around 200 concerned parents complained to the Independent Television Commission about the scariness of it. They did permit this version to stay on the air but it could be shown only after the 9pm "watershed."
  • The 2010 Halloween commercial for Snickers features two kids dressed as an adult woman (one on top of the other's shoulders) convincing a neighbor to stock up on the candy kids want. That sounds funny and charming, right? Wrong. The kids are horribly outdated in their dress, the proportions of the body are like something designed by Dr. Frankenstein, and behind the pallid, molded face, are two piercing, unblinking eyes. And then the creepy caress, the voice ("I'm only trying to help you" as the woman tries to wrestle her cart away and can't),...
  • This little horror advertising Assassin's Creed II can potentially be a mixture of this, Uncanny Valley, Paranoia Fuel, and Nothing Is Scarier. It's just pictures of characters' faces with an ominous churchbell playing. And yet it manages to creep the pants off of many people who see it, especially if they see it in the middle of the night for the first time without knowing what it is.
  • These ads for an unidentified drug to treat rheumatoid arthritis really know how to get their point across. Seriously, they talk about how preventing an illness can salvage your hobbies. And then, we see the very items each respective ad is named for decaying in a frightfully realistic fashion. It's a real double-whammy of disturbing.
  • The Burger King commercials that feature their incredibly eerie mascot of the same name. Especially their breakfast-themed commercials that feature him in other people's bedrooms, waiting for said people to wake up so he offer them breakfast sandwiches.
  • This Nokia N900 commercial. It starts with a guy in a business suit talking with 3 other guys about the Nokia N900. When one of them is reminded that there are people watching the room behind one-way glass, he flips out, transforms into something, and starts the wrecking the place. He yells, "I am the medium! I am the message! I am the one." and transforms into a phone. Um, what?
  • This particular Virgin Mobile advert is pretty funny when you first see it. But when you're up at night, alone, and that psycho music is playing... Especially at the very end, when you think the thing is over, but in actuality there's a quick flash of her EERIE GRINNING FACE before it closes. Sweet dreams, folks!
  • Local Haunted House has a radio ad that starts with a guy calling OnStar, "This is OnStar, how can we help you?", The guy mumbles, then screams "They're trying to get into the car!", "Oh, you need to get into your car, let me just unlock those doors.", "NO! They're trying to... ", sound of unlocking doors, screams and growls and groaning. "Is there anything else we can help you with today?", Demonic voice, "No, he'ssss... goooood."
  • A Jello ad that is just made of this trope: it's late at night and the parents are facing their children in front of an open refrigerator. The mom tells a story about a little girl who fell down a deep dark well filled with monsters and boogeymen, with no cartoons, and she was trapped there for a hundred years with no hope of escape. While she tells this, the children look as if they're crapping in their jammies in pure terror. She ends it with "And that's why we don't take Mommy's nightly [insert jello name] snack" right before Dad tells the kids to go to bed. Even worse is the one where the mother tells her daughter she will ship her off to work in a coal mine if she takes her mommy's snack. It is all too close to a representation of child exploitation for comfort, and one wonders how it hasn't been banned. Here's the link.
  • There's these advertisements for a cleaning product known as SKOE 10X. Both of their commercials are essentially animal women going to the bathroom on the floor, and none of it's censored. Add in the fact that it's usually shown at late night, and you're bound to confuse it for horrifying scat porn that made it on TV somehow.
  • This Coca Cola commercial urges viewers to watch and unlock secrets about the formula. It's extremely disturbing, complete with blink-and-you'll-miss-it weird, flashing images and creepy smiling ladies from the sixties.
  • This commercial A woman walking to her car in a parking garage late at night is stalked by a creepy little ghost girl who suddenly appears and disappears. Turns into Nightmare Retardant when she starts telling the woman about all the money she could be saving on an iPhone.
  • Heyyy, cookies!!!
  • Mild these days perhaps, but this Australian ad for flyspray.
  • This commercial for Austrailia's Bluetongue Brewery Beer features a Japanese businessman getting the "Full Whale Experience" at a sushi bar. It was made using money donated by the Sea Shephards, a group of eco-pirates who disrupt Japanese whaling activities... that, or Bluetongue really hates the Japanese.
  • This Tango advert, where a man is attacked by a clawed, bright orange disembodied foot. It doesn't get better when the foot's owner shows up to claim it.
    • Speaking of Tango adverts, this little gem from the same era is confusing, scary and just plain freaky. The two figures seen by the man drinking the Tango are remind one of various horror movie archetypes, and that's before his head comes off.
  • Back in 2009, there was a Planter's Peanuts commercial on the radio where an interviewer was speaking with an older man who ran the facility where they gave Planter's Peanuts their characteristic crunch. When the interviewer asked why Planter's Peanuts were so crunchy, the older man, who had a vaguely Germanic accent, exclaimed that they used "the rendered fat from boiled children" and laughed maniacally. Oh, and to put the cherry on top, the ad ended with a child's scream followed by a crunch. Creepy. As. Fuck.
  • This Eggo commercial with a boy trying to steal Eggos from his little sister, who's innocently talking to her doll while eating Eggos. But as he reaches for her plate, she suddenly turns into a Medusa-like monster and shouts "Get away from my Eggo!" in a monstrous voice ala the Clown with the Tear-Away Face from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Her brother is so scared, he sits there petrified with his mouth hung open and his sister continues talking to her doll as if nothing happened.
  • The commercials for Universal's Halloween Horror Nights qualify so heavily that we've given them their own major section on a seperate page.
  • The freaky Sega Saturn promotional tape and the Theater of the Eye" ad campaign. Funny thing is, Sega of America wanted the Theater of the Eye campaign to succeed, they even heavily promoted it on FOX and MTV, but it ended up scaring potential customers shitless.
    • Any of the North American Sega Saturn commercials apply here. Here are two good examples.
  • The PlayStation franchise is notorious for being home to...unsettling commercials.
    • The PS1's American launch campaign, eNOS. Each commercial consisted of small clips of gameplay from launch titles mixed in with live-action clips of various imagery, all accompanied by a distorted, robotic-sounding voice. Watch one of the ads here...unless you plan on sleeping tonight.
    • This European ad. The family speaking only in video game sounds could be funny.....but then the commercial decides to go into Nausea Fuel territory and zoom in their mouths to reveal their uvulas are shaped like the PlayStation buttons, in a very gruesome display. Seriously, do NOT click on that link if you're planning to eat.
    • This demented Playstation2 advert directed by David Lynch. It starts off pretty normal, with a dude walking down a slightly spooky corridor full of smoke. Thirty seconds in, his head flies off and swims in front of him for a moment, then re-attaches itself before a disembodied arm with a clenched fist at the end appears to punch him in the face and then flies out of his mouth, distorting his face for a moment. It gets worse: he then looks down at his hands and sees they have disappeared, with only smoke pouring out of his sleeves. Then the smoke clears and he sees three figures sitting on a couch - a clone of himself, a disturbingly still mummy with bloodstains at the mouth and one eye, and an anthro duck who croaks at him, "WELCOME. TO. THE. THIRD. PLACE." Despite its horrible content and the fact that it was directed by the man who gave us Eraserhead, it would be shown on TV in the middle of the day.
    • The infamous PS3 launch commericial with the robotic baby.
  • Until they were replaced with CG models, the adverts, which air in the United Kingdom, used puppets that were firmly rooted in the Uncanny Valley. Despite being considered so creepy that people try to avoid them, they're paradoxically Memetic Mutation in the U.K.
  • You haven't experienced true fear until you've looked into the eyes of this ice cream person eating itself..
  • Itsudemo soko ni... Mcdonald Translation  These are a series of Japanese McDonalds commercials in which Ronald McDonald opens a locked door from the outside, calls a girl from a dark alley, hides under a girl's bed, and escapes from an unseen thing. The ads end with a creepy distorted voice saying the above slogan.
  • This Subway advertisement from 2005 is a ten second clip of a group of kids making a snowman. Suddenly, they all stare blankly at some unseen thing and one girl shrieks before the screen goes black and yellow text says They're Coming. Somehow this is a teaser for Subway's food, though the ad itself was played alone, without any following segment explaining what exactly about Subway it's advertising.
    • This was actually part of a series of ads, one of which features a police officer looking into the window of a pulled over car in shock, one of which features two men in a barren snowy wooded area before one suddenly gets a blank look on his face and the other looks over his shoulder in shock. None of these ads make any attempt at explaining what they're advertising in any way.
  • The Honeycomb cereal's Crazy Craving mascot that was used from the mid 1990s until a decade later. It is a computer-generated mammalian Mascot with Attitude-like character who used to spawn along live-action humans in search for the cereal until the very turn of the millennium when further commercials made it a human transformation. This commercial and another one views examples of the unsettling transforming from human to Craving.
  • There's an orange juice commercial that shows a pair of hands in leather work gloves holding a cluster of leaves. The leaves grow, bloom, and slowly develop into an orange. The problem here is Fridge Logic: where are the roots of this plant? Gives a whole new meaning to the concept of blood oranges...
  • The mosquito ad for the old Xbox. It begins with mosquitoes buzzing in the form of music, and all the other jungle animals dancing to the beat, while the narrator (who is a mosquito) tells us about how his species used to make music. Seems innocent so far, right? But then the narrator says "One day, a voice told us, 'Get a job!'" Cut to close-up shots of a mosquito on a pulsating heart, mosquitoes sucking blood from arms and people in the hospital, and a close-up shot of a mosquito's abdomen filling up with blood. It's very unsettling, to say the least.
  • This Honey Nut Cheerios commercial starts with a woman at the table picking up her mug. The Honey Nut Cheerios bee flies out and tells her about how good Honey Nut Cheerios is. He gives her a bowl of Cheerios and asks: "Delicious, right? It's the honey, it tastes so..." the camera shows frames of dead insects while an unexpected Scare Chord plays in the background. The bee tries to get away, but the woman pulls the box back and asks "What's the rush?" The commercial ends with the bee hiding and saying his Catch Phrase "Bee happy, bee healthy!" while ominous music plays in the background.
  • In early-1995, Chuck E. Cheese's ran a pretty spooky commercial where three kids were at a German, Chinese and Mexican restaurant looking at their food in disgust (with some pretty creepy culture-appropriate music playing in the background - such as an off-key yodeler for the German restaurant). The kids all whined "I should've said Chuck E. Cheese please" and were abruptly teleported to a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant.
    • Could've also served as a very effective birth control/condom commercial; one viewing of that commercial and every childless woman and man will be so haunted at the thought of bringing such brats into the world that they will NEVER forget to take their pills or use condoms regularly.
  • The commercial for Fruit Roll-Ups which began with a woman calling to her son. The camera pans left to show A GIANT COCOON OF FRUIT ROLL-UPS. A boy (presumably the woman's son) all but slithers out of the cocoon, dropping to the floor. He looks at the camera, puts a finger to his lips and says "Shh" in the creepiest possible way. Jeez.
  • This 1950s Green Giant vegetables ad. The people who made this ad sure did a good job making the Jolly Green Giant not so jolly looking. Sweet Jesus!
  • Hostess did a series of commercials in the 90s and 2000s that featured an animal approaching something that appeared to be a Hostess snack product, but wasn't, and would prompt that animal to ask "Hey, where's the cream filling?" However, the creepiest ad involves a boy teasing a doll with a toy cupcake, which prompts her to come to life with one angry face.
  • The American ad for Yoshi's Island (SNES version) depicted a man eating more and more food at a restaurant, and getting fatter and fatter, while the narrator talks about how much data and features are crammed into the game's cartridge. Pretty soon, the man eats one little piece of spaghetti, and—in the style of a famous Monty Python skit—explodes, with his stomach contents splattering everyone in the restaurant. The piece of spaghetti then splatters the game box, and then we cut to a shot of more of the stomach contents splattered on a wall, spelling out the SNES motto (Play it Loud). Due to the sheer number of complaints of how sickening this commercial was, it was only aired a few times before it was replaced with a bowdlerized version, in which the splattering and exploding is heard off-screen as a woman at a table turns and looks to the left, the spaghetti doesn't fall on the box, and the stomach contents spelling "PLAY IT LOUD" are now a bright, rich, thin, non-gross green slime that resembles Nickelodeon slime.
  • This cinema ad from Co-Operative Bank describes what would happen if a landmine went off in the cinema.
    • In another horrifying ad, a woman asks why you would switch to the Co-Operative Bank, visuals intercut with images of animals dying in polluted landfills and covered in spilled oil, etc. She basically admits that the Co-Operative Bank has the same features as every other bank but hey, they'll never knowingly contribute to pollution!
  • The "This is the money you could be saving with Geico" ads. They feature a stack of bills with unblinking googly eyes, just staring into the camera. The song playing in the background, "Somebody's Watching Me", turns the ad fron Uncanny Valley into Paranoia Fuel, although it is mild compared to some of the items on this list. In fact most will find it quite sweet.
  • The commercials for the Game Boy Color often had the C on "Color" morph into a pair of lips and suddenly shout "Get into it!" at the end, functioning as a jump scare.
    • Sega had something similar with a loud voice yelling "SEGA!" at the end of their commercials. Not so bad in the Genesis and Game Gear commercials, but it was really freaky in the Saturn commercials, in which a disturbing blue head straight out of the Uncanny Valley would come flying at the camera really fast, yelling something like "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA, SEGA!" or just "SEGA!" then morph into the Saturn logo. In a few ads, the head would have a different shape and color, like in the Ni GHTS Into Dreams ad, in which the head was purple and shaped like NiGHTS' head.
  • Mike's Lemonade and Iced Tea had some... unique... taste in their commercials
  • In the early 2000s, Nestea ran an ad campaign that involved a snowman whose snow acted as skin. When melting, he'd become a skeleton, and had to find a bottle of Nestea in order to regain his snowy skin. These commercials sometimes aired on children's TV channels, and while these commercials were funny to older viewers, children were scared shitless by them.
  • In 1998, when British Sky Broadcasting where launching their new Sky Digital TV satellite service -which as of 2014 is still in service- in order to promote their launch, BSkyB composed this advertisement of different 90s era televisions seemingly moving, floating and flying about and... -wreaking themselves apart in various and apparently brutal and violent ways.

    This at first might not sound like much; however, along with all the different TV sets doing everything from flying about, breaking their own exteriors or just plain exploding on the spot, there are messages appearing on the screen of each television something along the line of I have so much more to give and I can do so much more, all while being shown in various locations ranging from a darkly lit living room, to the middle of a forest in the night, to a hospital ward on a patient's bed to a children's roundabout right in the middle of a deserted Beach-Cliffside like something out of Prypiat, Ukraine meets the opening to 'Terminator 2 Judgmentday' (Flaming TV set not withstanding).

    Couple that with a disturbing choir-soundtrack and substantially executed quick an dramatic editing of all these situations much like something you would expect to see in an 'Aphex Twin' music video, all to get to the view of another Cliffside with more TVs attempting to throw themselves of the cliff, only to be stopped by a sky digital truck passing by, before the advert's intended message comes up saying that: From this day forth, all televisions great and small will be able to reach their full potential followed by: Sky Digital It's what your television's been crying out for.

    Due to this advert's realistic live-action scenes mixed with real destruction of TV sets, disturbing soundtrack and scary editing done all too well, there are still people on YouTube years later saying that they got scared of this commercial when they were young, and this troper agrees, in fact this troper actually thought it was even scarier than The Judderman (see below) which got shown on television not too long after the Suicidal Televisions advert mostly because this advertisement -especially during reruns- just hit a lot closer to home than the latter thanks to it's more realistic appearance and the fact that it all centres around something that you would all expect in your own home suddenly going haywire and exploding through unseen forces.

    P.S. did I forget to mention that the year 1998-1999 was when the 'Millennium Bug' Mania was at its height?
  • A series of ads for Phones 4 U in the UK showing people being stalked by ghosts and zombies trying to promote mobile phone deals to them: "Missing our deals will haunt you!"
  • This OUYA commercial, which shows a man raging over paying $60 for a a game, then proceeding to vomit so much he floods his own room, then pull out his jaw and his spine and beat himself up with it, mutilating himself, before finally lying in the pool of his own vomit and weakly proclaiming "OUYA!"
  • This ad for FIFA 14, which features the player turning into Lionel Messi. Literally.
  • There was a commercial for a carb bar, and it took place in a baby shower. One of the women in said shower offered the pregnant woman some cake, to which the pregnant woman declined, instead sticking to eating said carb bar. Then, without warning, the face of the woman who offered the cake went all demonic and scary. Also a case of What Were They Selling Again?, as absolutely no one knows the name of the carb bar being advertised.
  • An advert for the $5 pizza special at Little Caesar's features two gamers who try to get out of their beanbag chairs when their associate tells them he's going for pizzas. They sink further and further into the chairs (as expected), one even commenting that they're sinking faster the more they struggle. The scene is fairly disturbing. Then it becomes Nightmare Retardant when one, so determined to get said pizza, begins moving the beanbag chair towards the door.
  • There used to be a biscuit snack called Munchsters back in the day and there was a rather freaky advert for it with a rather odd sock puppet man also freaky with the creepy child's voice at the end.
  • The DirecTV ads that are meant to show how ugly wires are - they have a man married to a woman who is a puppet with wires. This gets really creepy in the second commercial where the man's son, also a puppet appears. The implications are that the guy is having sex with a puppet and produces a puppet offspring. A third commercial has the puppet woman trying to look sexy for her husband.
  • To advertise new episodes of The Heart She Holler, [adult swim] would randomly throw a Jump Scare into commercials for their other shows. To make matters worse, they would show up in the middle of the night. People were so ticked off by it that some refused to watch the channel until the promos are taken down.
  • "Beware the Judderman my dear, when the moon is fat." In the early 2000s, this infamous Metz advert was voted the scariest advert ever by the British public. The ad centres around the Judderman, a ghoulish, Jack Frost-like creature who lures weary travellers with his bottles of Metz. Once he has them, he gives them a taste of the Metz, which is so cold it makes them judder. As you might expect, this is a lot worse than it sounds. The people behind the ad went to great lengths to make it as creepy as possible, including using a hand-cranked camera to film it, creepy music, and hiring a ballet dancer who could perform the eerie movements of the Judderman. There's even a crow whose head spins 360 degrees. And it seems they succeeded a little too well, as loads of kids were terrified by it, and the ad was eventually banned from early evening television.
  • And while we're on the topic of alcohol, how about this disturbingly surreal Drambuie ad?
  • This 2014 IKEA ad shouldn't be Nightmare Fuel. Unfortunately, due to the narrator's Creepy Monotone and the lack of context to her words, it is.
  • People laughed when LifeCall / LifeAlert did their famous "I've fallen, and I can't get up!" commercial. They aren't laughing now.
  • This commercial for PUR water filters from 1995 which involves a goldfish freaking out at an ad in a newspaper read by its owner about the deteriorating quality of drinking water. After the woman pours herself a glass of water from said water filter and sets it on the table, the goldfish decides it would rather be swimming in that water, so it leaps through the air and lands in the drinking glass. The hideous visual effects for the goldfish are bad enough, but just watch the very last shot of the commercial where the woman reaches for her glass to get a sip. Better hope either A.) the goldfish can manage to jump back out, or B.) the woman notices before taking a sip, or it won't end well for both of them!
  • In December 2013, an advert for the Japanese company Autoway Tires generated a lot of headlines, with newspapers asking "Is this the scariest advert ever?" How scary is it? Well, it comes with a disclaimer and health warning at the very start. The ad shows a dark, snowy road from the driver's night vision POV - the perfect setting for the horrific Jump Scare that follows. Also an example of What Were They Selling Again? - many news outlets pointed out that the viewer would be too shocked to concentrate on what was actually being advertised. We strongly advise against checking it out. It's that bad.
  • This commercial for Rayovac batteries features a scary mid-90's CGi CD player literally eating Duracell and Energizer batteries. The fact that the commercial takes place at night certainly does not help matters.


  • Children See, Children Do: The commercial starts off cute enough, with a kid mimicking her parent in their daily commute...up until you see she's smoking a cigarette just like her mum. Then it starts getting weird: some of it is unintentionally fun, such as a kid mimicking her mom while she's screaming at another driver and giving the bird, or the aforementioned payphone users start getting frustrated at the payphones, but most of it is pretty jarring, especially near the end when a kid is ready to punch his mom out alongside his abusive father...
  • This PSA about racial acceptance, which features claymation animated shoes from the darkest areas of the Uncanny Valley.
  • A Kraft Macaroni and Cheese ad from 1993 had the boy turns his face into a scary-but-funny face and makes screechy noise at random with his BIG LIPS!? Imagine the kids hiding in their beds, vomiting, terrified that the " evil monster" was going to get them!
    • Speaking of that food-related commercial, here's a Reese's Pieces commercial of the 90's! Look at mark 00:05, the man grunting combining with his growl will make sure that you ran away with fear! Sleep tight, folks!
  • This ASPCA ad is certainly short and not at all sweet.
  • Any and all of these infamous Public Information Films detailing what to do in the event of a nuclear war. Picture being a child in the 1980s in the UK. Sitting happily, watching He Man on TV, then the commercial break. One of these plays. Your parents, who have been acting oddly already today, break down completely. Your mother starts to cry. Your father's face is white, and he's shaking. Every single member of your family, everyone you could possibly talk to, is terrified. And none of them dares tell you why. That's what those films would have done if they ever aired for real.
  • The 1943 Wartime Cartoon "Education for Death". "He sees nothing but what the party wants him to see, says nothing but what the party wants him to say, and he does no more than the party wants him to do." The final shot shows rows of marching Nazi soldiers turn into rows of gravestones with the narration "For now, his education is complete. His education... for death." You know what makes this truly scary? The fact that this actually happened. Demons, monsters and witches are make-believe. Nazis and the Holocaust are very real. Disney effectively exposed children to a real-life tragedy.
  • The Unicef PSA where the Smurfs' village gets bombed . Talk about a childhood killer, especially when one learns Peyo's family approved it.
  • This advertisement. So...toxic resins are blobby gang-rapists? Is that the message they mean to convey?
  • There was a PSA about early detection of pancreatic cancer. A man is in a car behind a similar looking man and goes, "That's Jim and I'm Jim's pancreatic tumor." He goes on to talk about the onset of the man's pancreatic cancer. It's creepy to imagine your health problems, personified and discussing their onset.
  • This PSA is meant to raise awareness of the problem of landmines. It's mostly just disturbing.
  • A 1984 anti-abortion propaganda video The Silent Scream. Until 2004 it was a regular part of Religion classes in Croatia. According to the media, lots of students have been heavily traumatized by it.
  • An Autumn 2011 Discovery UK ad for Deadliest Catch is this: a deep man's voice singing a slow version of "Row Row Row Your Boat" while clips from the show play in the background, with no context for any of them.
  • A 2014 commercial for DirecTV features a guy with Uncanny Valley-esque marionettes as his wife and son.
  • The American Stroke Association's "Time Lost Is Brain Lost" campaign. Special mention goes to this one, featuring Michael Clarke Duncan threatening to cripple you in the most menacing, downright disturbing way possible.
  • "What are your kids learning?" It's a PSA from The Learning Channel, where a boy watches a video online. It's never shown what's in the video, but there's a panting man and a bleating goat, and it's pretty obvious he's watching something... off-color. The kid runs off...and then comes back into the room with his pet poodle before shutting the door. The best part is the end, where the image cuts out...but you can hear the poodle whimpering.
  • Comedic Australian duo Henry & Aaron are perhaps best known for creating some of the most unsettling ads to hit the internet.
    • This ad for The Central Institute of Technology in Australia. Just wait until you get to the end. For the curious, but afraid to click: A video that's half typical college advertising, half meta-humor, half horror. A guy shows his friend around the campus by snapping his fingers and "teleporting" him around. It's super hilarious, until the guy realizes he teleported himself through a rack of clothing. His friend tells him to teleport away and a scream comes from down the hall. Most horrifying is his friend's fear and horror upon realizing that he's dead. Why is he dead? Well, he teleported himself through an employee ladder! Then again...
    • A few years later, they made THIS little horror. It starts with a bunch of kids sneaking out of school and heading off to the beach, set off to a catchy indie-folk song. Then one of the girls explodes randomly, and it's revealed that they're actually on an explosive testing site, and then things go From Bad to Worse. The best part is at the end where the last girl to survive is on the ground doing a Skyward Scream upon realizing that all her friends are dead, as the camera zooms out to reveal a huge mushroom cloud, and just as that happens her screaming is immediately cut off.
  • These anti-car crime ads from the UK shouldn't be as effective as they are, but the tone of the narrator and the horrible yelps of the hyenas - combined with the Adult Fear and violation of having one's car broken into work to make it very, very unsettling.
  • There was an ad in the '90s for The 700 Club. The ad began with a shot of Earth from space, and the narrator ominously asked, "Could this be the end?" And immediately after, the Earth explodes. The narrator then says to buy a book about "the signs of the times". Okay, for any child who happened to be in the same room when this ad came on, it's scary.
  • Unfortunately, TV Tropes has its own scary ad. It's for "California's Summer of Fun". It first shows a boy or a girl with a normal smiling face. But then, the face fades into a very creepy stretched face.
  • Back when GSN was still Game Show Network, they had an ad featuring two clips from The Price Is Right: the first showed Bob Barker remarking that both Showcase Showdown contestants had made the same bid, and it had never happened before. The second clip was from an earlier episode showing it had happened before. Nothing scary yet...until the screen fades to black with the message, "Be careful what you say...Game Show Network is watching."
  • The very first negative political TV ad in the United States, one which portrays an innocent-looking young girl picking the petals off a flower and counting them before looking up? That part is sweet and charming. What immediately follows, OTOH, is still extremely chilling.
    • The above commercial is Lyndon B.Johnson's iconic 1964 campaign ad "Daisy". A little girl innocently counts the petals on a flower in a meadow, before looking up suddenly, at which point the frame freezes and we are treated to an extreme close-up of her eye. While this occurs, a male announcer has begun counting down to one. At the count of one, shots of nuclear explosions and firestorms play until the ad concludes with Lyndon Johnson's voice: "These are the stakes: to make a world in which all of God's children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die." Then the voiceover, by sportscaster Chris Schenkel: "Vote for President Johnson on Nov 3. The stakes are too high for you to stay home." The ad, obviously referencing Cold War nuclear paranoia was broadcast only once and has since gone down in history as one of the most successful ads ever: Johnson won a landslide victory.
  • The new ads for Shark Week on the Discovery Channel featuring a cute little seal being released into the ocean on a gurney. You only get three guesses as to what happens next.
  • This 1969 ad for IHOP tries to be whimsical with its Moog synthesizer music, Chipmunk singing and footage of a family running in slow motion, but the execution is just disturbingly surreal.
  • This Learn For Life "Stay In School" PSA. which features some adolescents sneaking out of school for a day of surfing and relaxation at the beach, all set to a relaxing tune. It's all fun and games - until one of the boys just so happens to run on and subsequently get blown up by a land mine. And the rest of the teens get blown up one by one in a bloody, graphic manner that rivals Saving Private Ryan. And it's revealed that beach they snuck into was actually an explosive testing site.
    • This PSA is actually a viral created by comedians Henry Inglis and Aaron McCann, so it's implied that this could be a parody of over-the-top scary PSAs.
  • The Mr. Yuk advertisements, which featured a sinister display of items turning into monsters and had a creepy song sung about knowing Mr. Yuk's face. They seemed pretty desperate to keep children from getting into bottled poisons! Watch the commercial ( or hear the full song (
  • This ad for a Mexican TV channel. The narrator talks in a demonic voice about how the tv channel will trap your five senses as he changes the channels in the TV. A couple watching it dismisses it, calling them clowns and turning off the TV. Then, the narrator tells them that they may turn the TV off, but that they can't escape. The couple panics in horror as they realize that they are trapped on a TV. The narrator laughs as the ads ends.
    • Another one from the same TV channel has a man walking up to open the fridge while the TV is functioning in the background, then a monstrous hand comes out from the fridge and grabs the screaming man into it, the TV then shows static for a few moments until it then shows the man trapped underwater looking around confused.
  • This Anti-Israel PSA Imagine if London was Occupied by Israel The blood on the girl and the fact that the man can't get her to an ambulance is extremely terrifying.
  • Similarly, this ad from Save the Children imagines what it would be like if a crisis like one in the Middle East happened in Britain. It piles on the Adult Fear by showing everything from the perspective of a young girl.

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