That’s right, ghosts and ghouls, Halloween is fast approaching – and that means plenty of spooks, scares, and spine-tingling things that go bump in the night.
It also means those clever and creative TV ad men have plundered the vaults (and cobwebbed tombs) to deliver blood-curdling adverts that will give you nightmares.
Hide behind the sofa or howl at the moon? You decide, as we look through some of the scariest TV ads ever (re)animated.
In the dark, dystopian future, there are only polygons. And eyeball-vacuums.
In a bold move, Sega decide to market their 1995 console, the Saturn, by showing it used as some kind of torture device in a twisted, Blade Runner-esque nightmare. Clearly driven mad by the revolutionary 3D power of the Saturn, Sega’s marketing execs invented a place where angry-looking men turn into scruffy racing drivers, and then have their eyeballs sucked out by Daytona USA.
At the end, a voice-over says “Welcome to the real world.” Honestly, if that’s the world Sega promised, it’s probably a good thing that they lost the market to the PlayStation (although things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows over at Sony either, as we’ll see later).
I’ll be there, like a puppet on a string. Watching you sleep. Waiting…
Not content with being responsible for the horrors of constructing your own furniture, Ikea unleashed this torrent of terror upon our TV screens. Here, we’re treated to real actors wandering about as living dolls, complete with smooth, plastic skin, and cold, dead eyes. It’s almost as if the writers had just had a Chuckie marathon.
If you’re feeling particularly brave, try muting the advert audio and putting the theme tune from Friday 13th on instead. Have these people never heard of the uncanny valley? I’ll never look at flat-pack furniture the same way again.
The acceptable face of cannibalism.
Axe (or Lynx, depending on where you live) is well known for claiming that their deodorants will turn even the most haggard of men into an irresistible lady-magnet. In this advert, however, they go one step further down the path to madness by showing a deodorant capable of morphing flesh into chocolate. I’ve tried this deodorant and definitely didn’t turn into the Easter bunny. A bit of false advertising, perhaps?
Either way, we get to see a man being helplessly devoured by peckish women while trying to go about his day. What really tips this one over the edge, from quirky to terrifying, is the way his eyes seem to silently scream “kill me…”
What an excellent day for an exorcism.
Okay, I admit that it could probably be considered cheating to include this on the list. If you base an advert on a critically-acclaimed horror film, chances are it’ll end up being fairly creepy itself. Dirt Devil’s marketing bods really nailed the atmosphere here, which manages to suck you into a 90-second ad better than some full-length horror films do. The twist at the end is pure genius.
Sony PlayStation 3
Are you my mummy?
If you’re familiar with famous advertising campaigns, you may have previously heard of this particular brown-pants-moment. Sony, already known for their deranged TV spots, went off the rails completely and produced something that can only be described as pure, televised terror. If an advert involves a baby doll (perhaps Ikea were taking notes?) crying backwards while twitching and contorting as if possessed, chances are someone has taken things a little too far.
As well as being my personal pick for the advert most likely to make you wet yourself, this is also the second video game-related entry on the list, proving once and for all that game publishers and their marketing teams need to lay off the cheese before bed.
Have you seen any really scary adverts lately? Perhaps you remember some from years past? Let us know in the comments.
Murray Lewis is a sometimes-courageous blogger and writer who can sometimes watch scary adverts without hiding behind the sofa. He recommends Space City.