Disturbing Ad Campaigns
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Oct 16, 2012

Disturbing Ad Campaigns

You might know some of these adverts, but many of them you’ll never have seen on television or in magazines. That’s because they were deemed too chilling for public consumption. Thanks to the power of the interweb, we can bring them to you now. Be prepared to be scared.

UK | Phones4U


Anyone who’s been alone in a dark car park will empathise with this poor lady. Even more so when a creepy-eyed little Victorian girl pops up intermittently. This received 185 complaints in one week, pushing the advert to after the 9pm watershed. The tagline is ‘Missing our deals will haunt you’. And so will your adverts evidently.

AUSTRALIA | Dulux Paint Repel


This beautifully thought-through advert was banned in Australia, despite being quite amusing in the end. It does draw out the forbidding ‘investigating a strange noise downstairs’ scenario for longer than it should, perhaps, but that builds the suspense until Mary Poppins’ scary aunt makes her appearance.

USA | Nike Running


This slasher film parody plays out like the opening sequence of Scream and is quite clever, but the ad was deemed too violent (chainsaws have that effect on critics) and supposedly encouraged violence against women. It came out for the Sydney Olympics and featured runner Suzy Hamilton. Thousands of complaints got it banned in the States.

SWEDEN | Gainomax scary monkey


Drawing inspiration from spine-chilling Japanese film ‘The Ring’, this advert has a frightening little girl with hair over her face and walking backwards in a cell. There’s no funny pay-off with this commercial, it’s just intimidating! We will never eat another banana!

UK |Bird’s Eye


There’s a sinister polar bear in your deep freeze. We don’t suggest you look as he’s pretty resolute about which fish fingers you buy. This ad is still running in the UK, but the bear is slightly less menacing now.

HOLLAND | Hyundai Velostar

The Hyundai Veloster Banned Commercial
The idea is there’s a drivers door and no others on the ‘unsafe’ side. A nightmarishly silly gimmick, but not as bad as this advert, which was banned in Holland. It’s one thing implying safety, but showing a girl getting mowed down by a car in order to sell another car is a little cynical.

FRANCE | Ikea Tidy Up

IKEA Tidy Up Banned Commercials
This set of 30 second spots were allegedly banned, although there is little evidence to show where this happened – the ads were used all over Europe. But you can probably see why people would want to ban them. Check out the third one. Eeek! That situation might take a lot of explaining to a small child!

GERMANY | Dirt Devil

Dirt Devil-The Exorcist
This advert is a fantastic Exorcist spoof – where the wailing lady isn’t possessed at all, just a victim of the devilishly impressive suction of the Dirt Devil vacuum. It’s clever. We’re glad it wasn’t banned. Supernatural cleaning power!

IRELAND Paddy Power Bingo

Good grief, it’s a guy breastfeeding a baby. Another ad in the series showed the man having to resort to eating fast food… the poor thing. Those horrid bingo-playing women leaving them to fend for themselves. Banned on the London Underground for fear of causing widespread offence to women and those men who are perfectly capable of looking after themselves.

USA | Scary Guy

The Anti-bullying campaigner Scary Guy’s face (his actual face, that’s got to be harsh) was considered too scary for children and was summarily banned from use in adverts on Facebook for his campaign. That’s gotta hurt!


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