Do Creepy Commercials Get Consumers To Buy?
The entire premise behind advertising is to promote a given product or service. In order to do that, an advertising agency have to be both inventive and imaginative. To simply produce a copy of an already existing advertising idea or concept would not do the intended job properly. It would be irresponsible for an agency to promote a client’s product or service in such a way. There are different ways to advertise and listed below, in no particular order, are some of the more creepy commercials to hit the airwaves over the last several decades.
In the UK, the mobile phone industry has been steadily growing at a constant rate. Teenagers that have yet to complete schooling can be seen within the latest or relatively new smartphone handset. To capitalize on this, a production company called Hammer & Tongs developed an advertisement aimed at increasing the High Street retailer Phones 4u demographic. Aidan McClure and Laurent Simon, who devised the 30 second commercial, hoped that any controversy created would serve that purpose. When complaints were filed, a company statement insisted that the advert, one of a series at the time, was just designed to build tension and not frighten viewers. Phones 4u were to be declared bankrupt several years after the commercial aired.
Originally launched in 1974, these tiny chocolate treats have delighted their targeted audience of children for almost 40 years now. The majority of children are fond of chocolate as a foodstuff and with the added bonus of a free toy inside the Kinder Egg, it was only natural that they become big sellers the world over. However, the fact that a toy was concealed within, which usually came in the form of a kit and required construction, led to some problems. UK guidelines recommend that no child under the age of 36 months should be offered the confectionery. In USA, they are banned outright.
This 1980s advertisement didn’t exactly help matters either. Humpty Dumpty’s evil twin was an idea created by Kinder Egg makers, Ferrero. At the time of the advertising campaign, Ferrero’s CEO was Michele Ferrero and failed to recognize that the emotional scarring of young children was not conducive to increasing global sales.
Little Baby’s Ice Cream
In addition to chocolate, ice cream must rank as one of any child’s most popular snacks. Meet Malcolm, er… sales thing for Little Baby’s Ice Cream. This independent Philadelphia ice-cream parlor was co-founded by Pete Angevine and when the commercial made it’s debut, he was asked about it by the Philadelphia Weekly. He told reporters that he considered ice-cream advertising was something of a blank canvas and imagination was allowed to roam free and go wild.
Perhaps things went a little too wild. Malcolm is a humanoid made entirely from ice cream and throughout the minute long footage, he stares blankly at the screen – at the audience – while eating his own head. Has any advertisement been considered more bizarre and creepy than this one? Perhaps the second commercial that they made was.
Dark & Lonely Water
This was not a commercial per se, but a Public Service Announcement (PSA). It was released in 1978 and ended up being voted as 4th best PSA film of all time. Perhaps it was due to the message that it was sending, or the master-stroke of hiring actor Donald Pleasence to provide the voice-over. This PSA was initially known by the more sinister title of The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water and was made to warn the dangers of carelessness close to a body of water. Such a message was aimed at children but could easily apply to anyone.
This PSA did a fantastic job of warning people of the dangers involved. So much so, that this chilling film concluded with a stark and disturbing message that persuaded many youngsters to not only take care around rivers and lakes, but actually give up swimming and apply the same message to puddles of rainwater.
Originally shot in Berlin during 1999, this German television commercial was created by the advertising agency Jung von Matt. Six years after its television debut, the video made it’s way onto the internet and has the distinction of being among the very first videos to make it onto YouTube. In the example below, a serene drive in the country is interrupted by a demonic looking creature that appeared out of nowhere to scream directly into the camera. Despite not mentioning the name of the company or even the drink being advertised, it was still a remarkable and memorable piece of work. This was just one of several creepy commercials that followed a similar jump-scare theme.
All of these creepy commercials had the desired result without getting anywhere close to the intended effect. The ends could actually justify the means and who knows, perhaps that was the whole point of them. Publicity is just another type of advertising and any publicity can be good with the right spin doctors on hand. Additional examples of equally unnerving, sinister and creepy commercials can be found using any of the links given below. Next time you fast-forward through adverts during a recording of your favorite television show, be careful: you might just miss something really bizarre.
Sites pulled 15 March 2016