As autumn begins in earnest, you can count of several things. Leaves turning red, dropping temperatures that have you digging into the cold weather wardrobe, and ads filling the airwaves that want your heart to beat faster for more than just the products they’re selling. Tis the season… for SCARY ADVERTISING.
No, I’m not talking about political ads, which are indeed scary and make even the stoutest of hearts want to hide behind their sofa until after November 6th. No, I’m talking about ads that bring both the trick and the treats, thematically geared toward the Halloween season with a mixture of horror and humor that when done right, can get you talking over the watercooler long after the days of costumes and candy have passed.
Here are a few of our favorite frighteners from seasons past. If you remember them… good. That’s the whole point.
Let’s start with a vision that used to mean innocence and fun, but is really just the makings of Nightmare Fuel – THE CLOWN.
In the realm of Fast Food mascots, two giants battle over cities like Godzilla and Mothra; The Clown and the King. Sometimes, they land punches on the other that we can all enjoy. Case in point, Burger King’s 2017 October Surprise that offered a free Whopper to everyone who dressed up like a Clown and visited their restaurant on Halloween. With the catch phrase “Come as a Clown, Eat like a King,” BK ran a campaign created in Spain that everyone could fear universally.
Terrifying? Sure. But if you fear clowns, the print campaign was even scarier, with a John Wayne Gacy look-a-like enjoying a tasty burger.
Ok… that’ll make you run enough to work off that burger pretty quickly.
Speaking of snacks that distress… Snickers ran a campaign that had a funny ending, but brought plenty of discomfort along the way. https://youtu.be/JgSv1SKCteQ
Those kids are DEFINITELY not themselves when they’re hungry. But that ad, as disturbing as it is, comes nowhere close to the virally uncomfortable “Little Baby’s Ice Cream.” https://youtu.be/erh2ngRZxs0 I scream, you scream, we ALL scream for Little Baby’s Ice Cream. It’s very memorable, yes. But did it make you hungry? Uhm… not so much.
One ad that did a great job of mixing the scary with the funny, was this one. The Devil is in the details… https://vimeo.com/22984504
Some ads are so effective at providing a scare, a laugh, or both, that they go viral. This ad for a caffeine drink ad in Germany began in 2005, then resurfaced last year… https://youtu.be/5fybBwlxHNc
Once you’ve cleaned up your spilled drink and changed your pants, we can talk about this spot. It was for a caffeine drink called “K-Fee,” selling “Coffee in high doses.” After the scream, it says “You have never been so awake” in German, proving you didn’t need too much coffee to experience palpitations.
Last year this ad resurfaced, making the cyber rounds slightly doctored, removing the product from the ending and claiming that it was a car commercial “shot but never used” because “a ghostly mist” appears near the car at the end. It encouraged you to turn up the sound because you could then hear the camera man whisper about the spectral apparition. Definitely a TRICK, and not a treat if you were watching it at work. Snopes.com even wrote an article setting the story straight.
All of these ads are fun. They are also memorable. And again, that is the entire point of it. Rosenberg Media believes that creative can get you talking, but it’s important to make sure that the product is branded properly so as not to be lost in the production. Because in advertising, the scariest thing is NOT BEING REMEMBERED.