5 Psychotic Marketing Stunts That Traumatized Their Audience

We have TiVos, ad blockers, and the highly refined ability to simply not give a shit, so advertisers really have to get creative if they want to get our attention these days. And what gets your attention more than threatening, scaring, and emotionally traumatizing you for life?

Well, they say no press is bad press. See, after listening to you sobbing and ranting about the ghost in the mirror, the man with the rifle, or the police hunting you through a crowded airport, your psychiatrist will inevitably ask you what product caused all this pain, and then boom: mission accomplished.

#5. Capital 8 Theaters Hires an Armed Assailant to Threaten Ticket Holders

Boston Globe / Getty

The Goodrich Capital 8 Theater in Jefferson City, Missouri, decided to celebrate the opening of Iron Man 3 the best way they knew how: by threatening to murder their patrons.

AFP / Stringer / Getty
The party's over, unsilenced cellphones.

It went down like this: The theater owners decided to put on a little show before the main event, so they hired a gaggle of actors (actors come in gaggles, right?) to play the titular man of iron, a couple of cops, and James Holmes.

T-the porn guy?

No, it was not the infamous python tamer (you're thinking of John), but this Holmes was still packing heat.

Capitol 8 Theater via MSN
Real badasses strap their handguns to their chest, right?

James Holmes was the psychopath who killed 12 people in Aurora, Colorado, during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. He entered the theater wearing body armor and carrying a rifle, then opened fire.

We'd love to find a way to phrase this next part to really emphasize how stupid the decision was, but try as we might, we can't make it sound any dumber than the plain old unembellished description: One year after a mass shooting by a disturbed individual wearing body armor and carrying a rifle at the premiere of a blockbuster superhero film, Capital 8 hired an actor to walk into their own theater during the premiere of a blockbuster superhero film ... wearing body armor and carrying a (fake) rifle.

Joe Amon / Denver Post
"It's OK, these are blanks! You can stop soiling yourselves now."

As soon as Mysterious Armed Assailant #1 clocked in for work, intrepid theatergoers called the real police, screwing up the whole planned showdown. When the actual cops showed up, they informed the owners that they were lucky that no off-duty officers were present in the audience, otherwise their fun little stunt would have gotten the actor shot in the dang face. It takes a lot of people to make an idea this bad happen: Of course the theater owners should have known better, their employees should have spoken up, and really anybody within earshot should have smacked them upside the head with the Bad Idea Hammer. But actors, maybe you should also consider whether "guy in small-town PR stunt" is a role worth dying for. We know the Jefferson City theater scene is struggling right now, but we hear there's a pretty bitchin' version of The Wiz casting right now, and there's only like a 4 percent chance you'll get shot in the face for playing the Tin Man.

Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty
Eh, why not make it an even 10 percent?

#4. The Last Exorcism Part II Assumes You Don't Have a Heart Condition

Huffington Post

So there you are at the salon, staring into the mirror, flinching every time the hairdresser bumps your elbow and trying to think of a polite way to say "I don't have an opinion about the weather." Then you see something ... off. It was just for a second, out of the corner of your eye as you were being swiveled around. Probably nothing. But no, there it is again. You get a better look: There's ... there's definitely a freaky-looking girl in the reflection. Clearly, either you were wrong about the existence of ghosts or you're going insane. You're still debating which is more likely when the girl up and walks out of the mirror on her hands like Regan MacNeil. Two paths lie before you: You can have a fear stroke right now, or you can grab those scissors and stab them right through her fucking eye. It won't kill her (you can't kill a demon with scissors; it takes salt and iron, everybody knows that), but maybe it will slow her down enough to -- oh! Turns out you just murdered an actress.

Paul Tearle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
On the plus side, you're kind of a hero.

Well, that's going to knock off a star or two on your Yelp review.

This was all accomplished with a two-way mirror and a really flexible actress. The salon brought in an unsuspecting customer, played out their little show with the costumed girl behind the mirror -- turning out the light every couple of minutes so she was briefly visible -- and then, at the end, they had her crab-walk out from behind the mirror, presumably just crossing their fingers really hard and hoping that the customer didn't have a heart condition or a natural penchant for ghostbusting.

Huffington Post
You can't live your whole life wondering which of your actions might kill someone.

#3. Philips Thinks Bear Attacks Are Hilarious (Only Partially Correct)

Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

Electronics corporation Philips wanted to kick off its new Singapore marketing campaign with a lovable mascot. And what do people love more than wild bears? Practically nothing! Maybe rabid wolves, or hungry sharks -- but bears have more viral potential, clearly.

Jupiterimages / Photos.com / Getty Images / Comstock
Dear God ... what have we done?

And so they hired an actor to dress up in a bear costume and rampage about town. What's the worst that could happen? Nobody's going to see a guy waiting in line or dancing around in a bear costume and assume it's an actual predator. The only way that would happen is if you shot really grainy video of the actor moving and behaving like a bear, digging through trashcans or some such thing. And why would you do that? What does "bear digging through trashcans" have to do with electric razors? Clearly, the bear should be doing cartwheels in the par- oh, no? They went with the grainy trash thing?

BBC News
Good call, guys.

OK, then. Here comes the backfire:

After the first video of the bear was released, locals panicked and called the cops, reporting a bear on the loose in a populated area.

News reports about the rogue bear started appearing, along with helpful tips on what to do if you run into one -- if you're curious, the best advice is "pretend to be a bear yourself," followed by "panic, die." Philips' loveable new mascot was then hunted by police, animal rights activists, and zoo workers with tranquilizer guns. Not something the Snuggles bear has ever had to deal with, we hear.

David De Lossy/Digital Vision/Getty Images
"That bearstard gets all the breaks."

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