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Commercial Switcheroo

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"If you see one movie this summer, see Star Wars. But if you see two movies, see Austin Powers!
Teaser for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

The commercial equivalent of the Show Within a Show. You're watching a commercial for a very generic product — the commercial may even be so laden with blatant Advertising Tropes that it doesn't seem quite real.

This is because it isn't. The action will shortly be interrupted by... another commercial! Zapulix-Brand Aspirin was just a Red Herring!

Probably meant to convey that the product is so great that it can just stomp all over other commercials. Also, the fake commercial will usually lampoon normal commercial devices, so it may give the producers of advertising some relief from the normal soul-crushingness of their existence.

On rare occasions the first part of the commercial will actually be for a real product (often one made by the same company) before switching to the brand the commercial is really about.

For obvious reasons, this only works once; once you've seen the commercial, you know what the real product being advertised is. This makes this trope particularly effective for a Super Bowl Special, as Super Bowl commercials are generally aired only once in the first place.

A subtrope to Bait-and-Switch. Similar to Trailer Spoof, but usually without trying to parody any specific real product. Not to be confused with a Product Switcheroo Ad. Can turn into What Were They Selling Again?.


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  • Ladbrokes once ran a series of ads that appeared to be advertising something completely different - like shampoo, energy drinks, or perfumes - only to be interrupted by a Ladbrokes spokesman enthusiastically yelling "Who cares?! Football is on!" Cue the actual ad.
  • The ads for the Vauxhall Insignia start out looking like trailers for a movie, or possibly a new TV show. "The Insignia Project". Something like a cross between James Bond and 24.
  • Used with a real product in one commercial for car manufacturer Subaru, where actual footage from an ad for Snuggies (overpriced coat-shaped blankets) was cut off by a guy with a crowbar destroying the TV screen and revealing an SUV... The kicker is that the actual Snuggie commercial played around the same time.
    • The second version (likely made due to legal issues) was easier to spot. It used an original ad for the "Lap n' Snack", a weird-shaped plastic bowl that would have rested on your knee. Since nobody had seen it before, after seeing the commercial once they knew what it was.
  • This Australian ad for the Mitsubishi Magna, in which a salesman talks about the features of the car. Suddenly the Mitsubishi logo appears and he gets cut off mid-sentence. A commercial for another product begins, the salesman runs in from the background and interrupts the commercial, talking about the remaining features and the price.
  • One Canadian Honda Civic ad started off as a commercial for a brand of trash bags until the namesake car pulls in. The spokesman even remarks at how early the other product and its driver showed up before cutting to the car in action on a race track.
  • A trailer in 2002 advertised the film Lucky Star directed by Michael Mann and starring Benicio Del Toro as a professional gambler milking vast amounts of money from casinos and the stock market before drawing the attention of government agents. Turned out that there was never going to be a film at all — the whole thing was actually an advert for the new Mercedes SL, his getaway car. The new Volvo S80 also used a film-trailer-style TV ad, and LG also pulled this stunt with its new Scarlet line of TVs.
  • A series of Tesco Mobile ads in the UK centered around a group of people wishing for "a world where strangers... become friends" etc., before cutting to a simple person on a white background asking simply for a cheap monthly rate with a free phone.
  • A 2023 advert promotes "The New One". It's new, it's exciting, you have to have it, it has all these features that you definitely need like a dozen cameras. As the description gets both vaguer and more ridiculous, the voiceover eventually asks if you really need The New One after all. The ad turns out to be for Back Market, a company selling refurbished electrionics.
  • Groupon caught some flak for this. Their 2011 Super Bowl ad started out like an ad for a charity to help out Tibet... then switched gears to talk about how the announcer got 50% Tibetan food thanks to Groupon. Many thought this was in bad taste, which made it the most talked about ad that year. (Groupon made donations to the causes mentioned in the advertisements on a per-purchase basis.)
    • They also did an advert that starts out like an advert for a charity about deforestation, but then talks about how the announcer got 50% off a Brazilian wax, and one that starts out like an advert for a charity to save the whales, but is actually about how the announcer used Groupon to get 50% off of a whale watching experience.
  • Hundreds, if not thousands, of bikini clad women run enthusiastically toward a pasty plain guy who is anointing himself in bodyspray; think it's another Lynx/Axe ad? Nope. All the woman immediately stop as soon as he puts on his hideous spectacles... "Should've gone to Specsavers".
    • Specsavers ads are quite fond of this sort of Bait-and-Switch. This ad, in particular, shows a delivery driver hauling a huge parcel up the stairs of an apartment building, set to "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers, making it look like a courier ad... until the man is informed that he's in the wrong apartment building. Again, "Should've gone to Specsavers".
  • VISA filmed several ads for real vacation resorts, which mentioned at the end that you should bring your VISA card, since the place doesn't accept American Express.
    • The irony is that most of the hotels featured, when asked by an independent survey, revealed that most of them either had never stopped offering American Express, or had done so (briefly) in favor of VISA, but quietly started taking American Express again afterward.
  • Nationwide Insurance featured a Super Bowl commercial which, at first glance, appeared to sell a cologne endorsed by every housewife's fantasy, Fabio. Basically, he's rowing a gondola with a woman in it as this ad extols the virtue of his cologne. Then, he passes under a bridge, and bam! He becomes old and disheveled, and we learn that "life comes at you fast".
  • A Progressive Insurance commercial even interrupts one of their other commercials.
    • Another one advertises the services as an insurance-based amusement park called "Progressive Park." then cuts to show the Progressive team standing in an empty parking lot saying it was probably a bad idea.
    • This one takes place at a restaurant called Portabella's, but when the waiters clearly resemble the Progressive actors, the diners realize they might be in a Progressive commercial. This may count as an inversion, since it starts off talking about Progressive but ends with a jingle for the Portabella's restaurant.
    • One campaign appeared to sell a series of Flo action figures to talk about how Progressive helps small businesses.
  • Unfortunately, I've got some bad news for you: Other examples of this trope are rare. But there is good news: I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to GEICO!
    • GEICO ran a fake-trailer for a reality show called Tiny House before revealing itself as a GEICO ad. The trailer was well done, and real reality show premises can be just as stupid, so it was quite convincing.
    • In this one where Tony Little is selling a glider exercise machine but his "good news" for the audience is said irrelevant news.
    • Another GEICO ad appears to be an ad for a superglue called "Wonder Glue", that is until the salesman says it won't save money on car insurance.
    • This one starts out as an advert for a breakfast cereal called "Kwazy Crisps", until the mascot (a green Chester Cheetah Expy) says that it won't save ANY money on Car Insurance.
    • And this one appears to be an advert for a fleece fashion line, until one of the models says it won't save you money on car insurance.
    • This one begins as an advertisement for a treatment to prevent hair loss, until the doctor mentions that he saved money by switching to Geico.
    • This one plays out like a scene from a Soap Opera... until the guy tells the woman that he switched to Geico.
    • The GEICO Sequels campaign is a rare case from the company which doesn't use the usual punchline. One ad starts with a man shilling his lumber company, while another has a couple wake up and drink coffee while a soothing song plays in an obvious parody of Folger's commercials. Both are interrupted by the woodchucks chucking wood, a reference to the older GEICO spot playing on the old tongue twister. (However, both commercials open with text saying "A GEICO Sequels Presentation" which makes it easier to see the twists coming.)
  • There is a Lifelock internet ad on This Very Wiki that begins as a banner ad for the comedy movie Identity Thief (which, interestingly, is a real movie). It then switches to an ad that says "Identity theft in movies: Funny! (In theaters February 8.) Identify theft in real life: not so much."
  • A commercial in 1999 seemingly advertised an incredibly terrible-looking movie called "Blow'd Up". We then cut to a horrified man watching this on television, going on E*Trade (an online, self-serve stock brokerage), and selling all of his shares of stock in the studio.
    • In another commercial, it starts as an ad for a medicine called Nozulla, but as soon as the commercial starts listing its terrifying side effects (such as projectile vomiting, large eyeballs, a condition called "hot dog fingers" and Demonic Possession), the man sells his stock in the company behind Nozulla.
  • One ad starts for a Reality Show called Baker's Dozen about a family with thirteen rowdy children in the vein of 19 Kids and Counting. As the kids constantly annoy their disgruntled neighbors, the mom learns their show got renewed for five more seasons. Luckily their neighbors had Credit Karma, which lets you check your credit score so you can move out as soon as possible.
  • In Early 2019, a series of commercials by Ohio-based Safe Auto Insurance appeared to show products like full-body oven suits or paper towel t-shirts. After the ad plays a voiceover says "That doesn't sound right, but saving up to 30% on car insurance by switching to Safe Auto sounds perfect.
  • The commercial for the New York Lottery's $1,000,000 Premiere scratch-off resembles a dramatic movie trailer about somebody stealing a lottery ticket.
  • A 2022 Super Bowl ad starring Anna Kendrick starts out as a commercial for Barbie's Dream House, but then Kendrick reveals that Barbie found it with the Rocket Homes app, and secured a mortgage with Rocket Mortgage in a competitive housing market, with other dolls bidding for it.
    Food and Drink 
  • Sprite frequently pulled this trick during their "Obey Your Thirst" ad campaign, usually by starting out as ads for non-existent, drinks, such as "Jooky" and "Sun Fizz."
  • Car, meadow... ZOMBIE!! K-Fee Coffee.
    • Then there are the K-Fee Lite ads, which replace the jumpscares with less scary versions, demonstrating that K-Fee Lite has less caffeine.
  • Happens in Australian ads for lamb: one was a trope-laden ad for perfume, and another an ad for a really cheesy romantic comedy. Except that they're ads for lamb (or, rather LÂMB, "the fragrance for spring", and Falling in Lamb)
  • A nineties commercial for Picnic chocolate bars was made up of generic shots of nuts, caramel and raisins falling across the screen, while a voiceover said, "There are so many good things in a Picnic bar, we can't fit them all in this advert." Cut to a laundry detergent commercial with a woman waxing lyrical about her new whiter-than-white clothes - only to get drenched in a downpour of chocolate. The voiceover smugly adds, "So we put the chocolate in this one."
  • Similar to the Energizer bunny one below, an eighties British advert for Carling lager starts off with the advert for the lager, and then carries on with fake adverts that are crashed through by the characters from the first ad.
    • Another advertisement for the same lager showed a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of television prankster Jeremy Beadle being outfoxed by his intended victim. The prankster's Humiliation Conga ended with him being dumped into a fake advertisement for organic manure.
  • In one Trix commercial from the mid-'90s, the Trix Rabbit disguises himself as a human, and actually manages to obtain a box of Trix. He then goes to the fridge to put milk on it, and discovers that he doesn't have any. It's actually a "Got Milk?" commercial.
    • A few other commercials used this formula, appearing with another product usually used with milk, only for a lack of milk to cause some sort of issue. For example, the Pillsbury Doughboy helps a family make delicious cookies, only for them to turn on him because he put an empty milk carton back in the fridge, and they torch him in the oven as punishment. It even has a sequel where the Doughboy gives a plate of cookies to a Russian family and start to celebrate, only to learn that they're all out milk, thankfully the Doughboy is spared in that one. There's also the invention of the Oreo which reveals that it got its name from a Mondegreen of, "I don't know," when an employee ran out of milk and had to speak with his mouth full.
  • A UK advertisement starts with Marcia Cross from Desperate Housewives swishing her hair round and talking about "smoothness" and "rich texture", in what's clearly meant to be a shampoo ad. To her irritation, they then cut to a shot of Albert Bartlet Rooster Potatoes, with a man declaring "They're worth it!" in a parody of the L'Oreal ads. (This was foreshadowed by an ad in which Cross was annoyed and bewildered that her agent wanted her to be "the face of potatoes".)
  • This advert starts off as an advert for washing powder, before being interrupted by an advert for the soft drink "Quosh".
  • A UK advert for the Christmas season 2018 shows the very familiar sight of a red lorry decorated with Christmas lights driving along a snowy road... before the logo on the side is revealed to not be Coca-Cola, but Kevin the Carrot from Aldi's 2017 Christmas campaign.
  • Some of the ads for Yakult in the Philippines starts with it being an ad for another product, only for another guy to interrupt the ad and asks, "pero okay ka ba tiyan (but is your tummy okay)?"
  • There's an Orangina campaign where the drink is used in place of other commonly advertised products, like cleaning fluid, mouthwash, or aftershave. Also the spokespeople are anthropomorphic animals, and yes, the fanservice present in some of these ad genres is very much intact.
  • Black Rifle Coffee Company made some very strange ads where a guy named Dr. Steve sells weird products with a lot of equally-weird uses, such as "hydration mayonnaise" or caffeinated teeth-whitening fish paste. The ads end with a statement saying, "This product doesn't actually exist, but Black Rifle Coffee Company does."
  • A 2021 Super Bowl commercial begins with a shot of six Clydesdales harnessed to a cart. Then a hand pulls a pin out, and the Clydesdales run free. Is this another majestic Budweiser commercial? Nope, the Clydesdales run through the town, stomping everything into bits and terrifying everybody. It's a Samuel Adams beer commercial, and their inept mascot, "Your Cousin from Boston," is the one who let the horses loose.
  • To promote their new Quesalupa, Taco Bell did this with five minor companies, such as the Virginia based Auto Connection car credit company.
  • A 2023 Super Bowl commercial features a fan of Coors Light and a fan of Miller Lite getting into a bar brawl with each other over which respective beer brand the ad should focus on, the fight getting increasingly over-the-top and exaggerated. Eventually, a spotlight appears on the bar counter, and both fans try to get their beer bottle into it, only to have it stolen at the last second by a pint of Blue Moon, revealing the ad to have been a Blue Moon commercial the whole time.
  • Popularized if not invented by the Energizer Bunny commercials. A battery powered toy rabbit, initially created for a straight commercial, wanders off the set, due to the inexhaustible power supply of the Energizer battery. The rabbit wanders through other advertisements, interrupting them as the Energizer voice-over guy announces "It keeps going, and going, and going..."
    • Created for a straight commercial by a competitor, no less! Duracell ran a series of commercials in The '80s in which a group of drum-playing bunnies (or other toy or electronic device) are shown running until the Duracell-powered one was the last man standing out of ten or sonote  such toys. Energizer's versionnote  was a Take That! that really caught on – so much so that the Duracell bunnies are no longer seen in North America.
    • The bunny also rampaged through famous movies as well. Hilarity ensued.
    • This starts out as an advert for a loaf of bread called Vintage Farms Deli Loaf, until the bunny (wearing a construction helmet) shows up.
    • And this starts out as an advert for a fictional video game called "Beauty And The Beast: The Ultimate Adventure", until the Energizer Bunny interrupts the commercial by appearing from one of the doors.
    • This one starts out as an advert for an air freshener called Airdale, until the bunny (who is dressed in a gas mask) interrupts.
    • And this one starts out as an advert for a breath spray called Halo, before the Energizer Bunny (who is wearing a clothespin on his nose) shows up.
    • Here we have one which starts off as an advert for a washing powder called Really White, until the bunny appears.
    • In one of the early commercials, the bunny interrupts adverts for Chateau Marmoset wine and Tres Cafe coffee.
    • This one starts out as an advert for Sputnik Beet Juice, until the bunny floats by, wearing a spacesuit.
    • And in this one, the bunny interrupts an advert for Golden Grenades breakfast cereal.
    • In this one, he interrupts an advert for Chug-A-Cherry soda by walking across the ceiling.
    • This one starts off as an advert for the fictional Hennessy Bank, until the bunny shows up and sends the buffalo used as a metaphor running in fright.
    • Here, the bunny interrupts an advert for Firmatine, an anti-diarrhoea medicine, by parachuting past wearing an aerialist outfit.
    • And here, he interrupts an advert for Notbacon, a bacon made from soy.
    • This one starts out as an advert for a Mexican restaurant called "Cuca Racha", starring Ted Nugent, until the bunny shows up.
    • And this one starts out as an advert for Nasatine, an anti-allergy nasal spray, until the bunny appears.
    • Here, the bunny interrupts an advert for Sitagin, an anti-haemorrhoid cream.
    • And here, he interrupts an advert for "An Olga Christmas", a CD featuring Christmas music as performed by the fictional harpist Olga Montero and her magic harp.
    • This advert for Alarm soap is interrupted by a raincoat-wearing bunny, much to the shock of the guy in the shower.
    • Not even political adverts are safe, as Bob Fremgren discovers.
    • This one starts out as an advert for Ligamint, a muscle pain relief, until the bunny marches past.
    • And in this one, the bunny interrupts an advert for an unnamed grocery store.
    • This one starts out as an advert for a hair restorer called Growzan, until the bunny comes along floating on his back.
    • Here, the bunny interrupts an advert for a pork rind snack called J.B's Pigskins.
    • And here, he interrupts one for a bubble bath called Sexy Nuit. (The advert is in Spanish, but the subtitles are in English).
    • In this advert for Darnitol headache relief, the bunny marches through the woman's mind, leaving her confused.
    • Not even network TV got off free, as the Bunny marches through the intro to ABC's Wide World of Sports.
    • Here, he interrupts a commercial for 1-877-787-0778 with a Totally Radical guy in a telephone costume.
    • Watch as the Bunny shakes his way to tighter buns with The Fannisizer.
    • While lost to the void of time, the Bunny also made his way through commercials of some real life products like The Clapper and Pepsi.
    • And Hostess snack cakes, which may have been the first.
    • This one starts off as a guy talking about a website that sells underwear, until the bunny comes along and marches across the homescreen of the guy's computer.
    • And this one starts out as an advert for Rottenbrau beer until the bunny shows up.
    • Ralston, back when they owned the brand, decided to do this to their own Purina Cat Chow brand of cat food, doubling as a Dualvertisement.
    • Here the bunny interrupts an advert for a phone company.
  • Pilkington Self-Cleaning Glass Conservatories adverts start off as a very cheesy Infomercial/Shopping Channel parody seemingly from The '80s advertising some awful product intended for use in a conservatory. They the switch to a silently amused conservatory owner who turns to admire their conservatory glass with a voice over saying something like "If you want a useful invention try Pilkington Self-Cleaning Glass".
  • A commercial begins like a movie trailer for Connecting Flights, which looks like an actual movie trailer for another generic holiday movie about two people stuck in an airport before the holidays until the guy accidentally runs into a refrigerator, revealing the commercial's true purpose: advertising appliances for Sears.
  • A commercial opens as an ad for a cleaning product called "Shiny Suds", with talking soap bubbles singing about their product to the delight of a mom. The next scene shows her about to take a morning shower, only to see the suds are now chemical residue all over the bathroom, and they quickly develop a perverted personality as the woman uncomfortably begins her shower, which only increases when she begins using a loofah. It's a commercial for nontoxic cleaning brand Method Products, but it was quickly pulled after it was criticized for being in bad taste.
  • A commercial for a vacuum cleaner starts as a classic Product Switcheroo Ad for coffee - but instead of replacing the high end restaurant's coffee with Folger's Crystals it's replaced by sand and ground-up clamshells. After everyone tosses their "grounds" on the floor the vacuum comes in and cleans everything up.
  • There was once a commercial that started out like a typical pregnancy test commercial. A couple sits on their couch while the wife holds a beaker of fluid. The husband dips a plastic strip in the fluid and they excitedly watch it change color. They have just confirmed... that they have hard water. We then see that the commercial is actually for a hard water treatment.
  • A video from Vat19 advertises folding chairs as if they were a brand new invention. Turns out they're actually advertising the Christmas themed sweaters the actors were wearing throughout the ad.
  • Tide aired a series of commercials during Super Bowl LII in which this trope is taken to its logical extreme; the ads present common types of ads seen during the Super Bowl... except that they're all actually Tide ads, because clean clothes are the sign of one. The end result makes you wonder if everything is a Tide ad, even going as far as to invade an Old Spice ad. Observe.
  • Two ads from a campaign for dishwashing cream Ayudín start off as ads for weird and disgusting foods, like Choriflan (Sausage Flan) or Pescalate (Fish Chocolate) until the end where the card for the aforementioned product is displayed with the slogan, "No mezcles en tus platos sabores que nunca mezclarías" (Don't Mix in Your Plates Flavors You Would Never Mix).

    Hygiene Products 
  • There is a banner ad for a deodorant that has a fist made of deodorant residue come out of a woman's arm, snake across the article you're reading and punch a man in an apparently unrelated teeth-whitening ad in the face.
  • Old Spice Body Spray is too powerful to stay in its own commercial!
  • A summer 2015 commercial for Banana Boat sunscreen begins as a commercial for the "Super Slim Summer Sun Screen Suit" from GLAMCO, a full body suit which is designed to cover the whole body from head to toe, face and all, from the sun. Here the commercial actually plays until the very end. Then the screen glitches out and the real ad for Banana Boat sunscreen begins.
  • This advert for the Philips CoolSkin electric razor starts out as an advert for a fifteen-bladed razor called "the Quintippio".
  • Orkin did a number of commercials in which a wayward insect would wander over the top of another commercial before the exterminator could kill it. Legends abound about people freaking out and smashing their screens in an attempt to kill what they thought was a real bug.
    • Orkin discontinued those commercials because of a lawsuit after a man threw his shoe at the TV because of one such commercial.

  • Alka-Seltzer had one very famous ad about a meatball commercial being shot where the actor repeatedly blew his line "That's a spicy meatball!", if some other blooper didn't spoil the shot. Since he had to take a bite from those spicy meatballs on each take, he soon needed some Alka-Seltzer before he could continue.

  • A commercial from summer 2002 invites people to "take a spin with this summer's newest action hero" in the Spider-Man font while Danny Elfman like music plays. Then it abruptly cuts to Yoda igniting his lightsaber.
  • Speaking of Star Wars, an ad from the summer of 1999 (towards the release of The Phantom Menace) opened with scenes of a large space station set to an intimidating Imperial March-like leitmotif. The camera then slowly pans to a shadowy figure sitting in a large chair. The chair turns around to reveal... Dr. Evil.
    Dr. Evil: You were expecting someone else?
  • A trailer for Resident Evil: Apocalypse begins with an at first prosaic, then progressively frightening, commercial for a beauty product. This is also a bit of world-building, as the product's manufacturer was the amoral pharmaceutical conglomerate from the games, Umbrella Corporation.
  • MTV played a promo for Asher Roth's album, then suddenly the background behind Asher looks like it's giving away, and then it fizzles into a promo for the new Star Trek (2009) movie, then background with Asher Roth rapping comes back like nothing happened.
    • MTV did it again when they played the usual ad for America's Best Dance Crew which suddenly got interrupted by Freddy Krueger (either his clawed hand or a ghostly face) and the ad turned into a commercial for A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) remake, then suddenly it went back to the end of the ABDC ad.
  • Hilariously done on IMDB where they frequently have those banner ads where people dance for no reason about insurance or whatever. In one of them, Michael Myers suddenly came in and dragged one of the dancers away, revealing it as an ad for Halloween II (2009).
  • USA once interrupted their scheduling bumpers with ads for the movie Hop.
  • Disney's Lilo & Stitch movie had four ads that would start with a classic Disney movie, such as Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast, followed by Stitch interrupting the moment.
    "Get your own movie!"
  • The first teaser for The Muppets (2011) started out as an ad for a romantic comedy, until the time came for the announcer to read a list of cast members, and the inclusion of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy elicited surprise in the announcer and the male lead. Thus began a campaign of several teasers of this type leading up to the movie.
  • The Simpsons Movie displayed the Superman logo in its first trailer (released the same year as Superman Returns), then zoomed out to reveal not Superman, but Homer wearing a Superman T-shirt and no pants. Another ad began with a cutesy CGI clip of dancing bunnies and flowers, to illustrate the distinctiveness of bringing the hand-drawn Simpsons characters to the big screen in a time when All CGI Cartoons dominate the animated movie field.
  • A trailer for Looney Tunes: Back in Action starts out as an ad for a James Bond film, showing 007 on screen. Suddenly, a silhouette of Yosemite Sam appears in one of the zeroes and tries to fire his gun, only for it to turn out to be a "Bang!" Flag Gun. Bugs Bunny's silhouette then appears in the other zero to laugh at Sam's expense and call him a maroon. The 007 then turns upside down and pulls back, revealing the film's correct title.
  • A lot of the earliest advertisements for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind began as fake ads for a company called Lacunae Inc., which became meaningful after either going to the company's website (whose URL was prominently displayed at the end of each "commercial") or watching the film.
  • An ad on Hulu begins with a screen reading "Which ad experience do you prefer?", asking the viewers which ad they would "like" to see. But wait long enough, and all of a sudden the screen bursts, revealing Optimus Prime in a fight with what appears to be Godzilla (2014). It's actually an ad for Transformers: Age of Extinction.
  • This "PSA", which was posted on Earth Day, 2016, features ESD (Earth Space Defense) Director David Levinson giving "some handy tips on how we can all help save the Earth." It quickly becomes clear that this is an ad for the (then upcoming) Independence Day: Resurgence.
  • Cars n Deals Of Emeryville is a very sneaky instance of this trope. Most of the ad runs normal until halfway into the jingle at the end, when a hidden frame displaying a website URL pops up for a few seconds. If you typed in this link when the ad was first uploaded, it would lead to a then-exclusive trailer for Cars 2.
  • Back in 2001, one teaser trailer gave the impression it was for Batman, then it's revealed it was actually for Scooby-Doo (2002).
  • The teaser for The Spongebob Squarepants Movie began with live-action footage implying it was a live-action movie set in a submarine, but then it cuts to SpongeBob in a bathtub.
  • One of Nickelodeon's promos for Rise of the Guardians had it interrupt a promo ad for a new episode of Big Time Rush
  • The first trailer for Ron's Gone Wrong started out with an animated B-Bot ad that looked so realistic that audiences who first saw the trailer thought that it was an unskippable ad.
  • This trailer promotes a sing-along re-release of "The Original High School Musical". Not the aptly-named Disney Channel movie, but rather Grease.
  • Subverted by the first teaser for GoldenEye. It looks like it's shaping up to be a James Bond spoof, playing a song that sounds suspiciously like the Bond theme while declaring that "it's a new world with new threats and new enemies, but you can still depend on one man." Then the real Bond himself announces his presence with seven gunshots before he tells the viewer "you were expecting someone else?"

    Public Service Announcements 
  • During the late '90s, Ad Council ran a series of PSAs that ended with a character being exhausted after rather minimal physical activity, followed by the announcer saying "Exercised lately?" and the tagline "Get up. Get out." One of them started out as a fake ad for "Gofer Cakes", which looked more or less like mini whoopee pies. The excited kids in the ad end up lying on the floor, too full and sugar-crashed to move. Don't ask why this was a PSA for getting more exercise (the kids seemed to have plenty of energy at first) rather than not eating too much junk food.
    • Another PSA shows an ad for phones, promoting many gifts that'll come with it, including a phone cradle, speakerphone, headset, pasty complexion, flabby body, "and a great new nickname at school! (LOSER!)"
    • This PSA shows a boy winning a game on his "Video Boy" and dancing around excited about it, before he gets exhausted and stops.
  • Another PSA started out looking like a perfume commercial with a lovely model in a fancy house with beautiful music playing. Then we see the bottle of perfume which rotates to reveal its name: Breast Cancer. The model is visibly shocked and the announcer even apologizes for getting your attention this way.
  • A rather heart-breaking anti-smoking PSA starts out as a trailer for a dramatic movie about a man who has to give away his daughter at her wedding. Near the end, the camera pulls back to reveal this commercial displayed on a television in a hospital room. The patient and his adult daughter watch with sadness. The implication is that due to the father's (apparently smoking related) illness, he won't live to give away his daughter at her wedding.
  • AMC Theatres had a series of PSAs that start out as a trailer for a movie, such as a romance film and a Disney-esque animated movie. All of a sudden it gets interrupted by a cell phone ringer, and the characters complain about the noise. In the latter type of this PSA, the main character of the "movie" gets distracted while flying and accidentally falls into a volcano.
  • A series of home safety PSAs in New Zealand began as a commercial for something else (fruit snack bars, house paint, a shower system, home loans) and end with someone having a horrific accident because they didn't take simple precautions (e.g. the guy in the paint commercial falls off his ladder because he didn't secure it properly.)
  • A state body in Western Australia regularly uses this in its road safety PSAs. In one, what begins as a car commercial highlighting the car's safety features goes on to show the car suddenly running over a pedestrian as the driver was going too fast. In another, an ad for a kid's toy scooter ends with the child riding out into the road and being hit by a car.
  • The Ad Council made a series of PSAs encouraging kids to brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes. And how do they do this? They play either a fake TV show, a fake YouTube video, or a fake video game, and then something will tell the viewers that kids spend many hours doing the shown activity, and then the text "How about two minutes to brush their teeth?" is shown.
    • This, for example begins with a (fake) kids' band called the "Super Duper Party Troopers" (an obvious Captain Ersatz of The Wiggles) singing a song called "Ants in the Pants". Then, the red-clothed man says "One more time!" and the song rewinds and begins all over again, but the green-clothed one suddenly stops singing to say to the audience that "kids will spend 22 minutes watching us, the Super Duper Party Troopers, singing about ants in their pants." And that's when it reveals itself to actually be a PSA about brushing teeth 2 minutes a day.
  • "My Little Puppy". It seems like an aggressively saccharine toy commercial (albeit one for a real dog), but soon reveals itself to be a PSA against treating pets like toys (which includes neglecting it and "throwing them out", so to speak).
  • An anti-Ecstasy PSA was designed to look like a prescription drug ad, with a person walking through a field of flowers in soft focus while the narrator listed side effects, concluding with "Ask your doctor why Ecstasy is not right for you."
  • Around 2000, The Truth ran several anti-smoking PSAs that began as commercials for some kind of "way out" product (for example, a brand of soda called "Splode" that contained 100 times the carbonation of the average soda brand, or a new zit cream called "Rid-a-Zit", or a car hire service called "Tru Ride", or a sports shoe called "H-Bomb"). The product would then cause some kind of death (usually of the Stuff Blowing Up kind), and a message would flash on screen saying "Only one product kills more than a third of the people who use it. Tobacco."
  • A 1994 PIF from the IFAW began like a tourism advert for Canada, complete with initially peppy visuals and music, before midway through we're all of a sudden treated to images of some jerk beating seals.
  • One Smokey Bear PSA begins with a frightened man being chaotically brought into a police station, where he has his fingerprints taken, has his items confiscated, and thrown into a jail cell, despite him pleading that what he did was an accident. Then we find out the man's crime: starting a forest fire.
    "If you're guilty of starting a forest fire, even accidentally, you'll pay for it."
  • Both the Teen Mommy Darci and the Action Teen Father start off as doll commercials, before it's revealed that they're actually PSAs discouraging teen pregnancy.
  • In 2017 in the UK, Save the Children made a PSA that starts out like a car commercial, until the end when it is revealed that what is being advertised is actually a bomb.
  • Back in the late 2000s in Florida, there was a PSA that showed footage from what appeared to be a Halo-esque video game, until after "LEVEL COMPLETE" appeared onscreen, when the character lit up a cigarette (first-person, of course), coughed, and collapsed.
    Voiceover: Each year, smoking kills over 400,000 people.
    (the screen appears to turn off, then the Tobacco Free Florida logo appears onscreen)
    Voiceover: Don't be your own worst enemy. Don't smoke.
  • Sandy Hook Promise released a chilling PSA that went viral in fall of 2019. It starts off like your typical peppy back-to-school shopping ad, with kids showing off their new school supplies, feeling prepared for the new year. Then alarms start going off and everyone in the background starts running for cover as it appears someone has opened fire on the school. The kids keep praising their supplies, but the context is no longer about typical school activities, but about keeping themselves safe from the shooter- i.e., running down the hall in their new sneakers, or using their new socks to bandage a friend's bloody leg. It ends with a girl hiding in a bathroom and using her new phone to text her mother that she loves her.
  • This PSA from the Michigan State Police begins as a sunny ad praising service industry workers, showing them as they go from house to house meeting all sorts of families. Then it takes a turn when the ad reveals every scene had human trafficking operations going on in the background, replaying the ad to show all the signs. The real message of the PSA is for service workers to keep an eye out for traffickers in the neighborhoods where they work.
  • This video plays out like a commercial for Google Glass, showing a woman's day through the lens of her Google Glass, and then in the last minute she goes home and gets beaten up by her husband. It's quite jarring to many viewers, but the video's statement is to show the domestic abuse many women suffer every day.
  • This at first seems like a commercial for an action figure, known as "reporter man", but it's quickly revealed to be a PSA for "Reporters Without Borders".
  • This advert initially looks like the trailer for a new action film called "The Betrayal", but it's actually a road safety PSA.
  • This one (made by the same people as the above) starts out as an episode of MTV Cribs. It's another road safety advert.
  • This one starts out as an advert for a three-wheeled bike called the Dirt Racer. It's actually yet another road safety advert.
  • This anti-making-up-while-driving PSA from Volkswagen masquerades as a video on the channel of NikkieTutorials (a real YouTuber, not a publicity stunt), thus making every one of her fans crap themselves to oblivion when, midway through doing a make-up tutorial like she always does, her head moves slow-motion and then jerks back to some very loud car crash noises.
  • Discussed in a 1980s PIF about electric blankets, where the narrator states that they were initially going to make their point by showing a bed on fire and someone caught in the flames, but decided against it as it wasn't nice to think about.
  • This one starts off like an advert for a toy puppy, but it's really an anti-puppy farm advert.
  • A PSA campaign about dating scams by the National Crime Prevention Council of Singapore first seems like an ad for a dating website called Talk Love. The 30-second version of the ad simply ends with a link to the website, which redirects to a page that explains such scams. The full version shows a girl named Ella matching up with a guy named Brandon via said website. Brandon, after several months of online chatting with Ella, then asks for increasing amounts of money, supposedly to pay off his mother's hospital bills, to which Ella agrees to send him money. Eventually, Ella calls Brandon's number only to find that the number was deactivated — and all appearances of "Brandon" in the scenes beforehand were revealed to just be cardboard cutouts.

  • An ad for Jack in the Box begins as a commercial for a car that runs on water and produces no harmful emissions, which is interrupted by Jack, the restaurant's mascot, introducing a new sirloin steak sandwich. Having completed his pitch, the piece returns to the presenter of the car ad, who says "Really? Sirloin?"
  • Western New York food chain Mighty Taco is fond of these. "Your gold is worth its weight in tacos!"
  • A driver is in a crash. He presses a little button above his head and starts talking with an operator, who calls an ambulance. Typical OnStar ad, so far. The driver then asks the operator to do him a favor: call Jimmy John's, the sandwich delivery company.
  • You can call me Nannerpus, Nannerpus, and guess what, I love panc--
  • Boston Market did a whole series mimicking other commercial genres, right up until they announced what they were advertising. One was designed liked a cleanser ad ("I had splitter-splatter all over my kitchen, but now it's always sparkling clean. What's my secret? Boston Market!") another like a painkiller ad ("Tension headaches are the worst. Fortunately, now there's a solution: Boston Market"). They all had the same tagline: 'We're cooking up dinner so you don't have to'.
  • A 2016 radio commercial for Wendy's Bacon Mozzarella Cheeseburger seems to start of as a commercial for a luxury French jewelry store. Midway through the announcer loses the French accent and says what the commercial is really for.

  • Tivo used to run commercials promoting the ability for their product to allow you to skip commercials, which were presented in parody form. One example has NFL Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott discussing "masculine itching" while playing golf, going into great detail, and just as Joe is about to demonstrate how to apply the "patented oily balm" to Ronnie's "affected area," the commercial cuts away, saying "Get Tivo. Skip the stuff you don't wanna see."
  • There's an ad for a home makeover show that started by pretending to be a standard "game" banner ad.
  • The Secret Saturdays began life as a series of "home video"-style ads featuring cryptids showing up in a typical urban situation, which were soon followed up by ads for an upcoming "Weird World" series. Eventually, these ads revealed their true colors; about halfway through the Weird World commercial, the camera zooms out to reveal one of the characters watching the ad to allegedly gain inside information on the series' Big Bad, who was not-coincidentally the person apparently hosting Weird World
  • There was a commercial for a new sitcom called "Zombie Dad" on Canadian sci-fi cable channel Space. It actually looked pretty fun, until it ended up being a network ad for Space saying you don't have to watch such awful shows.
  • The British satellite channel UK Gold (which has since been renamed a few times) had a surprisingly well-made series of ads in this vein advertising supposed comedy or drama shows that weren't good enough to make their schedule. For example, a show about two British coppers called George Tea and Alan Biscuits being lent to a police force in America, called "Tea and Biscuits", and a comedy called "Stuntman Husband", which was about a guy who had a job as a stuntman, and often performed stunts in his everyday life.
  • British channel Dave ran adverts for Dave Gorman's Modern Life is Goodish which started as adverts for products like chocolate or shampoo, only for Gorman to walk on-set and begin arguing with the announcer, disputing their claims about the product.
  • DirecTV. It starts out with a clip of an interesting movie, then a movie fan briefly interacts with the characters. The idea is that with DirecTV the viewer has much more control over when and where things start. Sadly, the interesting movies are not real.
  • This Portuguese Meo commercial/"communiqué", which had been heavily advertised on the days prior on newspaper covers (of course, without mention it was a Meo commercial), by the comedy group Gato Fedorento, shows at first a lady advertising a "tasteful yogurt", which she says it's her "secret" (for what it's not clear, but this part of the commercial was a parody of a series of Danone Activia yogurt commercials in which various celebrities say it is their secret against constipation); this is followed by a biiip as a sound and coloured bars, and only then the communiqué itself, presented by the comedy group who call themselves the "high command", about the "television of the future", i.e., Meo, and it is warned it's a futile exercise to change channels (to not hear the communiqué) because they have taken control over the Portuguese airwaves; this was followed by a "post-communiqué" starting with a man presenting a card supposedly recommended to him by "[his] friend Barbosa", which is then immediately turned off and then the "high command" appears, afraid they weren't clear enough about the potentials of the "television of the future".
  • An ad on TNT shows a blonde model trying on "Clear View Breathable Contact Lenses". As the announcer cheerfully talks about how "you won't even notice they're there", the model notices blood coming out of her eye. As she screams and collapses, a parasite crawls out of her eye. The camera cuts to her lying on the bathroom floor, as a Slasher Smile crosses her face. The commercial then reveals itself to be a promo for Falling Skies.
  • WNET, the PBS member station for New York City, has an internet and subway ad campaign featuring various fake reality show trailers, ending with the tag "The fact you thought this was a real show says a lot about the state of TV. Support quality programming." (Public television stations in the US are mostly funded by donations from corporations and the general public.)
  • In early 1994, Nickelodeon released a commercial promoting the "Monsoon Man" arc of their The Tomorrow People revival by having it interrupt another commercial for Nickelodeon GUTS.
  • Cartoon Network:
    • An European Portuguese Cartoon Network advertisement begins by showing footage of The Amazing World of Gumball created specifically for this advertisement. It appears to be at first about Gumball being welcomed into the network... until shortly afterwards, when Gumball realizes that his name is not on the banners. Darwin then tells Gumball that this is probably not about him... and then footage from Doraemon plays, which is really what the ad is about. Particularly notable as in, up until that point, Doraemon had always been broadcasted on a different, local channel.
    • One US Cartoon Network ad appears to be a Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! ad, with a narrator waxing eloquent about how cool of a car the Mystery Machine is as the gang has a quiet drive down a highway (with Scooby driving for some reason)...only for the narrator to get interrupted mid-sentence by Speed Racer suddenly racing up in the Mach 5 out of nowhere and bumping the Mystery Machine off the road (complete with a parody of the iconic "race car crashes in an enormous inferno" clip from the show's intro)! Whoops, it was actually a Speed Racer promo.
    Speed: Dogs should not drive.
  • When YTV got the rights to The Penguins of Madagascar, they had some promos for it that started as promos for other shows or a deodorant commercial, only for the penguins to suddenly freeze it and dance on the screen, to the narrator's annoyance.
  • ABC put out a series of parody ads for spy gear, dubbed "spyvertising" by the ad agency, to promote the spy comedy Whisky Cavalier. One featured a "romantic getaway all over Europe"...which would require "extensive government training" due to enemy forces trying to attack you. One commercial appeared to be a typical jewelry commercial, with a man giving his beloved a platinum engagement band...which concealed a poisonous pin she could use to stab him in the neck. "Guaranteed to stun" indeed. One even advertised tampons...which were actually bombs.
  • One spot begins like the original The Man Your Man Could Smell Like ad, until the Old Spice guy tells you it's really a Hulu ad, and you should get Hulu without ads if you're not into ads. "I'm on an ad."
  • This Super Bowl ad goes from a Bud Light commercial to an ad for the final season of Game of Thrones.
  • This commercial for Black Mirror manifests itself as a commercial for the Ashley Too, a doll based on fictional celebrity Ashley O which is the subject of the third episode of series five. It plays exactly like a normal ad for the doll until the last few seconds, where the screen cracks and fades out...
  • Advertisements for a place called Top Happy Spa began popping up in subways and as Internet pop-up ads in fall 2019. At first glance they seem like completely normal ads, except for an easily-missable Netflix logo and the concerning amount of self-loathing the patients seemed to possess prior to their spa experience ("I no longer feel like I'm dead inside!"). Attempting to visit the URL on the poster, however, will lead to a trailer for the true product: the Netflix series Living With Yourself. The advertised spa is actually a program that murders the host so an "improved" clone can live in your place.
  • Netflix posted a promoted tweet boasting how people could bribe their way into college, such as paying $5,000,000 for a university swimming pool. Clicking on the "Buy Now" link would take you to the Netflix page for a documentary on the college admissions scandal.
  • Disney+ has a downplayed variant, as it's subverting its own ad campaign to promote a sister service. It began a billboard campaign in 2024 where they would simply show iconic lines from media they had on the service. When Hulu shows began airing as part of Disney+, some of these ads would be subverted with characters from Hulu shows bursting through the billboard. For example, the "Ohana means family" billboard had a digital variant with Peter Griffin bursting through the screen, and "These are not the droids you're looking for" had Bender burst his head through.


    Video Games 
  • This advert starts off like an ad for a state-of-the-art sports car. That is until the price is revealed at just £39,99. Turns out it's an advert for the PlayStation game Ridge Racer Type 4.
  • What starts off as an ad that appears to be promoting Snuggle laundry detergent ultimately follows up with the bear being chased by a tank to promote BattleTanx.
  • Super Smash Bros. loves doing this:
    • The reveal trailer for a stage based on Super Mario Maker in 3DS/Wii U starts off showcasing parts of what appear to be a normal level made in the New Super Mario Bros.-style... then once Mario and Luigi appear on the screen, the audience only has a split second to realize that their model don't look quite right before Mario unceremoniously slide kicks Luigi. The commentary text even displays "!?"
    • The teaser trailer for Ultimate starts off as a replica of the Splatoon reveal trailer, at the end of a Nintendo Direct that had just showed off a good amount of upcoming Splatoon 2 content, priming most viewers to expect this to be connected in some way. Then the entire scene goes dark except for an ominous orange glow offscreen. The female Inkling turns around to investigate, and we see a familiar logo reflected in her eye...
    • Isabelle's reveal trailer starts off with her organizing her office, making viewers think it's a trailer for a new Animal Crossing game for the Nintendo Switch — only for her to get a letter saying that they want her for Smash. And just in case the viewer had already guessed that it was a secret Smash trailer and assumed there'd be nothing more, the original Nintendo Direct airing follows this by immediately cutting to Tom Nook watching the reveal himself, before telling the audience that he's got to get the town prepared for their eventual return. Cue a title card revealing a new Animal Crossing game for the Nintendo Switch.
    • At The Game Awards 2018, a trailer for something related to Persona 5 interrupts the host. The trailer features the main character Joker, sneaking around while other characters from the game question why he went all the way to the Game Awards, wondering what was worth stealing. Cue Joker grabbing an envelope... and quickly turning it around to reveal a wax seal with the Smash logo. Particularly notable in this case, as the trailer gave no indication it was even related to Nintendo, let alone Smash.
    • Prior to the Joker trailer, the awards show played commercials for Ultimate that started out by resembling gameplay from Splatoon, Street Fighter, and Animal Crossing, until Mario shows up.
    • The very first thing shown off at Nintendo's February 2021 Direct was what looked like, in every way, a new story expansion for Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Using the game's engine, it has Rex tell of how his trusted companion Pyra went missing one day, and worries about her whereabouts, complete with him asking all their friends about her disappearance. He vows to find her... and does so on a foggy Battlefield. Turns out she got an invitation to join Smash and wasn't sure how to break the news.
  • Multiple advertisements for Borderlands 3 first appeared to be mundane commercials for a wide variety of products, like shampoo or pet food, before glitching out and replacing everyone with Psychos.
  • Kingdom Hearts does a variation in its 2020 advertisement where the product is what it's initially advertised as, but it turns out to be more significant/serious than initially presented. The trailer showcase updates for Kingdom Hearts χ, including a new spin-off called Dark Road focusing on Xehanort's Start of Darkness, announces the long awaited release of the official soundtrack for Kingdom Hearts III, while music throughout the series plays. The trailer caps off with the announcement of what looks like a lighthearted Rhythm Game, only for it to be revealed at the end to be a continuation of III starring Kairi.

  • There are commercials for, a site that allows users to take surveys on products, that start out as commercials for some hilariously bad product before saying "Wow. That was bad. Wouldn't you like to tell them that? Now you can." One has a product called "Yo Yo Yo!" that yo-yos for you and has some girl saying suggestively, "Can I play with your yo-yo?". Another is a commercial for a "Carmsleeve" to cover your arm if you like to have your arm hang out of the window of your car. Yet another has something called "Flava Time", a watch or ankle bracelet that adds flavor to your food. A fourth is the Neck Basket, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, and it has a sequel in the Waist Basket. A sixth is for a sprout-flavored breakfast cereal. A seventh is for a "Proposal Pillow" to kneel on while you propose to your significant other.
  • A 1978 lawn mower commercial appears to be for a hover mower - until the home owner makes the film crew rake up grass cuttings and then mow the lawn properly with a Qualcast cylinder mower.
  • A K-Mart radio commercial starts out with various people talking about being reluctant to go out due to having a "gas problem", obviously making the listener expect it to be for some sort of drug that prevents flatulence. Instead, it's advertising a promotion where customers can save on gasoline by shopping.
  • The infamous Super Bowl ad in 2015 appears to be an ad for Budweiser featuring one of its puppies. When the puppy gets home he is hugged by his owner who says "I'm so glad you're home—because I just sold you on a web site I built with!" showing the site on her tablet before getting the dog shipped off. The ad was pulled by response from PETA and other animal advocates who were against the message of selling animals for profit.
  • T-Mobile's 2016 Super Bowl Ad appears to be an ad for Verizon, a continuation of its "rolling red balls" ad from January 2016, until Steve Harvey comes out and (in reference to his Miss Universe error in December 2015) says "I need to apologize, those are last year's numbers!" Of course it is actually an ad for T-Mobile.
  • This anti-Hillary Clinton political ad that ran during the 2016 Presidential Election in America opens with a woman standing against a blank background saying she is voting for Hillary because she is honest and trustworthy, only to call for the commercial to cut because she's an actress and doesn't know what she is saying. The commercial reveals itself to be from an independent political group attacking Hillary.
  • This Barclays advert promoting digital safety starts out as an advert for a robot toy named Supercon, before Supercon himself reveals that he's just a big scam and warns people to always buy from a secure website.
  • An ad put out by the Australian Bureau of Tourism for the 2018 Super Bowl appears to be a trailer for a remake of "Crocodile" Dundee until Chris Hemsworth is told he is actually in an ad for tourism and not a film trailer. This ad was teased ahead of time showing a part of the trailer with a list of other starring celebrities.
  • Twitter users were baffled at promoted tweets appearing on their feed imploring them to visit someplace called Eroda. It appeared to be a typical tourism website at first glance, listing accomodations, attractions, and other guidelines for your hypothetical vacation, but nobody could find out what Eroda was, and the cryptic nature led people to assume it must be some bizarre Alternate Reality Game. It all turned out to be promotion for an upcoming Harry Styles album; Eroda is the focus of the music video for the song "Adore You" (many people noticed that Eroda was "Adore" spelled backwards).
  • A rare print example - at first glance, the photograph on the right appears to be an advert for an expensive watch, but it's actually a continuation of the advert on the left, for a laptop.
  • Another print example - the image on the left looks like an advert for perfume, but it's really a lead-in to the advert for ATV Offroad Fury on the right.
  • There was a commercial that looks like it's for a performance car. We see a young man driving the car while cutting back and forth with two of his friends talking about the man's new ride. Finally, one of the friends asks what his ride has under the hood. The other replies "Nuclear reactor." The car finally stops on a dock next to a submarine. It's a recruitment ad for the Navy.
  • An Instagram account for a "Mushnik's Flower Shop" once existed, promoting all sorts of lovely plant arrangements..though some eagle-eyed followers may have noticed the shadows of some...strange and interesting vines looming over the flowers. Surely those who found the account, recognized the flower shop name, noticed the shadows in the photos, or realized several of these posts were Waxing Lyrical weren't surprised to see the account wiped and revealed to be promotion for the 2019 Off-Broadway Little Shop of Horrors production.
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver invoked this in a series of commercials aimed at Donald Trump. They start with a cowboy talking about catheters, until he suddenly shifts into a subject Trump may need to learn more about, ranging from the nuclear triad to healthcare to the location of the clitoris. These ads aired on Fox News (Trump's favorite cable news network) in the DC area to ensure Trump would see their messages, and are directly based off a Medical Direct Club ad about painless catheters that aired on Fox News.
  • Planet Fitness has a series of ads that begin like a pharmaceuticals ad, with someone complaining about their "Low E" as if it were her blood sugar/hormone level/etc. She's talking about her low energy, and the gym is proposed as a remedy. There's a disclaimer at the bottom of the first shot clarifying that it's not a real pharmaceuticals ad, stylized to look like the disclaimers on real medicine ads.


    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Seven Year Itch has Marilyn Monroe's character perform this in a toothpaste commercial seen only in an Imagine Spot.
    I had onions at lunch. I had garlic dressing at dinner. But he'll never know, 'cause I stay kissing sweet, the new Dazzledent way! (Marilyn's smile gives way to concern) And now that I have your attention, I want to warn all you girls about an evil, dangerous, married man living downstairs in my building. His name is Richard Sherman. S-H-E-R-M-A-N. While his wife and son are in Maine, this monster is terrorizing the girls of New York. He makes them sit on the piano bench, and makes them play "Chopsticks." Then suddenly he turns on them, just like the creature from the Black Lagoon!

    Live-Action TV 
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus managed to change courses twice in a Parody Commercial. Propaganda extolling "American defense" uses diagrams of tooth decay to represent Communist infiltration, which turns out to be part of an advertisement for Crelm Toothpaste. A cartoon automobile race follows, comparing the effectiveness of Crelm Toothpaste to an unspecified other brand, which quickly segues to a pitch for Shrill Petrol. In this advertisement, a white card representing engine deposits is displaced by a black card representing an Idiosyncratic Wipe to the next sketch of the show.
  • Saturday Night Live took it further, with a pitchman who wandered through half a dozen commercial settings, repeatedly implying what the ad was about but switching before mentioning a product. At the end, he goes home without mentioning any product at all. Cue announcer: "This message brought to you by The Ad Council: Wasting your time in various ways for no good reason."
    • A cold open started as a grim PSA in which Kevin Nealon talks about his son being killed by a drunk driver, only to be interrupted by the Energizer Bunny.
    • They did this again for what appears to be a typical Philadelphia advertisement, which suddenly morphs into a Philadelphia action figure commercial.
    • A running series of parodies of Clint Eastwood's Super Bowl Special Chrysler ad has their impersonation of the actor suddenly endorsing various other companies.
    • In the mid-90's, we see what at first appears to be a diaper commercial with Will Ferrell changing the diaper of a baby. Then Molly Shannon walks in and asks "Who the hell are you?" Ferrell dives out of the window and it's revealed to be a commercial for a security company.
    • One of the recurring "Totinos ad" sketches had the typical start of a wife (Vanessa Bayer) making some Totinos pizza rolls for her husband and his friends while they loudly watched the big game. Once she brings them the Totinos, however, she notices the television is off and the men have been cheering at nothing. It ends with the men robotically turning to her with pitch-black eyes, the woman confused and horrified...and a promotion for The X-Files.
  • The Portuguese parody show Contra Informação parodied the Meo commercials referred to previously twice: here, about who controls the government of the day, and here, about who controls football aka soccer. The first ad starts with a woman mentioning her secret on how to be thin (yogurt), and then cuts to a "communiqué" of the government. The second one starts more bizarrely, with Valentim Loureiro (who has a fame of a corrupt polymath and participates mainly in football and local Gondomar politics, and is also an Army major) mentioning his own secret to always come out on top when he's accused of corruption (yogurt too!), and then cuts to a "communiqué" of various Portuguese soccer personalities.
  • The Goodies would have a couple of Parody Commercials halfway through each episode.
    • The commercial demonstrating the fuel efficiency of a car, up until the car crashes into a paper banner reading "20 Miles".
      Announcer: Robinson's Paper. The strong one.
    • A spoof of the "two chicks in a kitchen" type of ad has a housewife struggling to get her kitchen clean, when another woman comes in with a new floor varnish which she sprinkles all over the place, then taunts the housewife about the mess she's made. So the housewife produces a submachine gun and shoots her.
      Announcer: If someone comes in and fouls up your housework, try a Westminister submachine gun!
    • In the episode parodying the advertising business, Graham proceeds to Talk Like a Pirate while feeding fish fingers to the children on his pirate ship. Turns out it's not an ad for fish fingers; he's actually kidnapped the children for ransom, as the advertisers have resorted to more direct methods of screwing money from housewives.
    • Graham is eating a chocolate and describing to the camera how it tastes...only it tastes so horrible he throws up in a nearby rubbish bin. Turns out the add is actually a Public Service Announcement telling you to Keep Britain Tidy.

  • Nerdist Podcast: The Futurama special "Radiorama" has multiple ad breaks for the fictional "Borax Flakes" cleaning product and the actual mobile game, Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow. After the special's Dance Party Ending, the narrator mentions how they cleaned all their white clothes after the party... with the Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow game, of course!

  • The Burkiss Way featured spoof ads as part of an 'intermission' on almost every episode. In later series a running gag developed where the spoof ads, no matter what they seemed to be parodying, would actually turn out to be for Stiffco Funeral Services.
    "She knows that flyaway hair needs a little extra body..."
    "Yes! If you've got a little extra body, why not bring it to Stiffco!"

    Web Animation 


    Web Original 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Energizer Bunny


Blue Planet Trailer

This movie trailer at first looks like a childish pastiche of Pixar's earliest feature films… until Lenny the Lazer Man and Adam Ant are crushed underfoot by a man in a futuristic wetsuit. Turns out Blue Planet, an adaptation of the Deadly Tide shooter game, was supposed to be an action-packed, dystopian sci-fi thriller aimed at teens and young adults. Alas, the movie was never released.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / CommercialSwitcheroo

Media sources: