Imagine you're sitting in the dark watching a scary re-run of The X-Files on TV, when it cuts to commercial. An ad comes on where a group of people are driving down a desolate road when all of a sudden, a demon leaps on the hood of their car, terrifying the both of you!
While perhaps not the wisest way to build brand loyalty, some companies have gone for the creeps to get a consumer's attention, and it's certainly a useful way for a PSA to make a lasting impression. And while those scary commercials are intentionally creepy, others frighten the hell out of us without meaning to via unsettling mascots and disturbing toys.
From vintage dolls who will have you in proverbial (and literal?) stitches, to horrifying clowns, to a bed-in-breakfast delivery that will have you wondering just how long a bobble-headed king watched an unaware man sleep, these horribly creepy TV commercials are sure to scare the crap out of you.
Of all the PSAs on this list, this on is hands-down the most f*cked-up. Words do not do it justice, so you'll just have to watch it to find out.
Once again, the British give us a commercial that isn't afraid to punch you right in the stomach and laugh.
Fragile Childhood's Monsters
This jarring 2012 PSA from the nonprofit Fragile Childhood features several young children being traumatized by hideous monsters while everyone around them seems blissfully unaware. The monsters wrestle them into their coats and buckle them into the backseat while the children look on in bleak, resigned horror.
The grim point of the ad is that the monsters are visual representations of the children’s parent’s alcoholism. “How do our children see us when we’ve been drinking?” the caption asks. Disturbing as hell, to be sure.
He's Going to Hit His Girlfriend...
This extremely effective but graphic and disturbing seatbelt PSA from the UK does what every horror film worth its salt should do: it shocks in order to stir a reaction from the viewer, here relying on realistic violence and clashing, peppy party music. A brutal video that gets the job done.
Meth Rhymes with Death!
This one is perhaps more horrifying than the rest, given how it contains no supernatural scenarios, but rather one rooted in the real world. A young woman stands before us and admits she's never asked about what meth did to one’s brain, or if someone could just stop doing the drug before trying it.
As the gossamer veil over what’s really going on is pulled back, we see her face become covered in meth sores. Then, we see that the woman is standing in front of a bathroom sink where she’s just slit her wrists with razor blades. Her distraught mother screams, "What did you do?" as she wrestles with her, trying to wrap towels around her seeping wrists.
This 2011 ad was titled "Deep End," and was part of a series called “What Do You Know About Meth?” The four ads were directed by Darren Aronofsky, the man behind the Requiem for a Dream adaptation that no amount of showers can rinse off. The Meth Project released several other ads, featuring drug-addicted young people resorting to prostitution, theft, and violence to satisfy their habits, but "Deep End" was perhaps the most disturbing of them all.