Happy families frolicking on a beach as a cute little jingle plays in the background. Grinning supermodels moonily discussing how wonderful the product is. A cheerful, paternal-sounding announcer going on about how its makers are dedicated to improving your life. It seems like a normal, saccharine-sweet ad.
...Until, of course, we pan out to see it playing on a flickering TV in the middle of a war zone, displayed on a rotting billboard in a Ghost City, or being beamed into the minds of some grim Dystopia's residents.
Subtrope of Ironic Juxtaposition. As you see above, it's a definite Truth in Television. For examples from This Very Wiki, see Ad of Win and Ad of Lose. If the product being advertised is a medication with a long list of side-effects, that's Side-Effects Include....
- Red Robin: When Tim returns to Gotham he stands in front of a cheery ad with a smiling family declaring Gotham a great place to live right before diving into the graffiti covered streets to deal with a mugger.
- Used with depressing effectiveness in Children of Men.
- This was the trailer for Resident Evil: Extinction.
- Pennies from Heaven is all about this trope, starring Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters, in a comedy about how during the Depression, movies just portrayed everyone as rich, happy— and DANCING.
- The publicity ad for Shell Beach in Dark City. It is one of the few happy and bright images in the entire movie, where the city is dark and run down. It gets truly dissonant because while the main character and his uncle remember growing up and living there, no one knows how to get there. Turns out the reality warping aliens have implanted Fake Memories of the place in everyone, it never existed!
- Brazil: Advertisements for things like secure cruise lines ("A panic-free atmosphere!") and things to buy are all over the place, plus standard "anti-espionage" posters ("loose lips sink ships") on the offices. All of which are little more than literal window dressing to try to cover the colossally screwed-up, barely-functioning world the characters live in (one scene shows a road with an endless line of billboards on each side, which prevent anybody on the vehicles from seeing an endless arid wasteland lying beyond).
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier has a cheerful real-estate ad for Nimbus III playing several times in the planet's capital, Paradise City — even though the whole place is a Crapsack World on par with Tatooine.
- Revelation Space Series. While traveling by train into Chasm City, the residents grimly ignore a holographic tourist advertisement that plays around them depicting the wonders of their city before it was devastated by the Melding Plague. Apparently they don't have any way of turning the advertisement off, so they just put up with it.
- The Doctor Who serial "The Armageddon Factor" opens with a Patriotic Fervor speech between young lovers that turns out to be a soap opera being shown on a war ravaged world.
- Auf Wiedersehen, Pet featured this in its first title sequence with one of the characters walking towards the dole office in front of Saatchi & Saatchi's famous 'Labour isn't working' poster.
- Babylon 5: The episode "And Now For A Word" includes an in-universe PsiCorps commercial depicting the organization as friendly helpful people... hardly the sort to engage in some of the unpleasant business they've gotten up to in many other episodes.
- Shadowrun adventure Double Exposure. One illustration had a billboard for Project Hope, with a happy family and the words "The Bravest Future". Under the billboard some Project Hope goons are giving a man a bloody beating.
- The various posters in BioShock. The special edition of BioShock 2 even comes with some print outs of them with hidden messages printed in UV ink on the front.
- Borderlands, especially in the areas added by Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC has optimistic, 20's style billboards advertising settlement on Pandora.
- Endless Space 2 - The United Empire faction's intro video features a cheery propaganda montage hailing the glory of the Empire, which ends in a still that pans out to reveal it's actually a billboard on the real, highly polluted, slum-covered, United Empire homeworld.
- The Fallout series uses this trope on more than one level; not only do the ads provide a blackly comic contrast to the post-apocalyptic wasteland, it's also made rather obvious that they were also rather at odds with the reality of everyday life before the war.
- Rogue Trooper: Quartz Zone Massacre - The opening scene is a Nort propaganda video boasting about how much the Southers have been beaten. At the end of the scene, the camera pans out to show the TV is lying in the middle of a battlefield in which the Norts were creamed.
- Somewhere in The Ends, which happens in good part in the eponymous hellhole city, there is billboard advertising the legendary city of Avalon, that people are looking for. It's a stark contrast. The Ends is actually the ruins of Avalon.
- In a video explaining how Google Ad Sense works, the YouTuber Appabend invokes this trope by mentioning how he once saw an ad for Iron Fist on Netflix right before a video criticising Iron Fist for Orientalism.
- Pretty much any slum, urban war zone, or disaster area with billboards will fall into this trope.
- The above page image is a good example. Doubly so when you consider the racial situation at the time.note
- Often happens online because of the keyword-based nature of advertising bots. Atheism boards are overrun by religious banner ads, discussions on forums devoted to people who do not drive cars are plastered with car insurance advertisements, news stories about disasters in a place will be covered by tourism ads urging people to visit the place, and so on.
- There's at least one photo out there of an article on a baby dying in a house fire... with an ad reading Burn Baby Burn.
- Tumblr once ran ads for Autism Speaks, which was ironic considering the number of blogs on the site by autistic people who were extremely critical of the organization.
- While watching TV, the ads during the commercial breaks may contrast the show you're actually watching. Heck, some commercial breaks may run ads that contrast each other (like, say, if a fast food commercial was followed by a weight loss commercial).
- Bridal magazines first started appearing during The Great Depression, encouraging brides (or rather, their families) to spend gobs of money on lavish weddings and Fairytale Wedding Dresses, as well as ads for household items (you know, for the bridal shower!) Given the time period, most of the readerships of these magazines would have found those kind of weddings difficult (or even impossible) to pay for, or have their parents pay for. And prior to this, most weddings were much simpler affairs, at least among middle and working-class people; only the well-to-do could afford lavish weddings. This trend continues to this day.
- Back in The '70s, the food company Nestle began marketing baby formula. That wasn't so bad in and of itself, except that they were marketing the formula in very poor, rural, "third-world" countries. This led to several problems: for one thing, clean water wasn't available in these places, and many people were not educated about germ theory or proper sterilization of things like baby bottles. For another thing, the formula was expensive in these countries, leading to mothers diluting the formula to stretch their supply (decreasing its nutritional value). The result of this ill-advised marketing campaign was an increase in infant mortality (as babies died from malnutrition, as well as from waterborne diseases and parasites). That led to conspiracy theories, a general mistrust of baby formula, and a push for mothers to breastfeed, even in places (like the US) that did not have these problems.