6 Inexplicably Terrifying Commercials for Everyday Products
If Mad Men has taught us anything, it's that the best ad campaigns are created by drunken, borderline sociopathic con men with an inability to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships. So it should come as no surprise that sometimes, while thinking of new ways to sell shit on TV, their minds go to some dark fucking places. What is surprising is why a major company, with a vested interest in not scaring the hell out of potential customers, would have green-lit any of these commercials:
Mattel's Whispering Doll Will Drive Your Children Insane
The year is 1965, Mattel's Chatty Cathy is one of the best selling dolls in the market, and the company is busy trying to think of ways to sell the same shit under a new name. "I've got it!" someone exclaimed. "A doll that whispers secrets! How could that possibly end up being anything but adorable?"The Horror:
See, this is what happens when you let a Chatty Cathy doll with a defective voice chip direct a commercial. The ad starts with an innocent child waking up next to an innocent baby doll -- everything seems perfectly normal, until the camera zooms in on the doll's face as its lips open and it whispers in an unholy voice, "Is anyone else awake?"
"Good. Now show me where mommy keeps the knives."
"Her lips really move!" the announcer says, as if trying to distract us from what we just witnessed. Another zoom into the doll's stoic expression brings another whispered phrase -- we know it says, "I want to tell you something," but our ears still can't stop hearing "I want to kill you some day." Indeed, we'll continue hearing those words long after we've turned off the computer and gone to bed.
"All must burn. All must perish. Also buy more Barbies."
Even in the face of this horror, the girl just smiles and whispers back at the doll, her mind no longer her own. If the ad continued for another few hours you would see her skin turn plastic, her eyes stop moving, and a "Made in Japan" label appear on her back.
"But Spot is my brother's doggy ..."
"Insolent child! You will do as I say!"
This is the point where the narrator desperately reminds us that this is a product one can buy, before the doll's face returns one last time to address you directly: "I know a secret. Do you?" We know a bunch, Baby Secret, but probably none that compares to the mind-destroying truths contained within that hollow plastic skull.
Another real phrase not included in that commercial was "
By the way, the girl went on to star in something even more terrifying.
Kleenex Wipes (for Japanese Baby Ogres)
When you are a universally known brand like Kleenex, you can't just slap a new soundtrack to the same commercials and expect them to work well in every country -- you have to tailor-make your ads to the tastes and sensitivities of each nation. That's why in 1986, Kleenex created two ads specifically for Japan: The first one showed a little angel girl playing with Kleenex tissues, and the second one, well, um ...
We guess the idea of this commercial was to celebrate the bond between mother and child, which is a nice enough sentiment. It's unfortunate, then, that they decided to set the ad in a parallel dimension where demons have enslaved humanity and forced us to raise their ill-begotten spawn as our own.
That horn must've stung like hell during delivery.
In the ad, the ruby-skinned Toddler of the Damned sits with arms crossed, clearly displeased with his human mother/servant-for-life. Knowing how cruel her child can be when not entertained, the woman desperately casts about for something that will save her soon-to-be-flayed-off skin.
Changing diapers full of brimstonse and snakes must be a chore.
With most of civilization reduced to a barren red hellscape, the woman has little choice but to turn to dark magicks for her salvation. She reaches for a Kleenex , the only brand allowed by the dark overlords (because even demons masturbate), and levitates it through the ether.
You'd think anyone tough enough to raise Baal Jr. would be able to hang on to tissue.
Meanwhile, all through the ad a lone voice sings a pleasant English song ending with the lyrics, "It's gonna be a fine night tonight / It's gonna be a fine day tomorrow" ... but we know it's not true. We know it will never again be true, after watching this commercial. In fact, the next time we see the Kleenex logo, we'll probably start weeping right awa- Why, you Don Draper-ing geniuses!
By the way, in Japan this ad was the subject of an urban legend claiming that everyone who watched it died mysteriously (huh, probably should have mentioned that before). That's right: even the Japanese thought it was too creepy.
McDonald's Coffee: It Turns Your Nose into a Penis
Swedish people freaking love their coffee, so we're not clear on why McDonald's Sweden even thought they needed to put out a series of ads for the brew back in 2008. That's probably why, when a Swedish agency was commissioned to create these ads, they said, "Eh, let's have fun with it. Let's do something creative and original. People will buy the damn coffee anyway."
Somewhere along the line, the idea for "coffee commercial" became "20-second horror movie mash-up of Pinocchio and The Human Centipede." The ad opens with this man:
This is what happens when you snort Enzyte like cocaine.
The man utters a hoarse, wheezing laugh that speaks volumes, if you are fluent in Crazy. It seems to say, "At long last, the experiment is a success!" As the screen slowly pans to the right, it reveals more and more of the man's disturbingly phallic nose.
Making matters worse, we are treated to a soundtrack with the same kind of broken xylophone playing that, if this were a movie about scary-ass demon children, would come right before an adult discovers them and they make their first kill. The spot is only 20 seconds long, but it feels much longer the first time you see it, since your mind is busy shitting itself at all the horrible things that might be on the other side of the Dick Nose. For why else would the nose go on ...
And on ...
And ... you get the idea, unless something is there, waiting for us? What could it be, we ask, with a mixture of dread and please-don't-fucking-tell-us?
These guys must be a hit at limbo parties.
Yep, it's another dude. Is this a separate person, or did the nose grow so long that it eventually grew a second man at the end of itself, if only for balance? The imbecilic chuckle and unconcealed nose-pickery of the poor fool tells us the real story: A mad scientist has joined himself to his Igor-ish lab assistant in an unholy union of flesh. Anyway, buy McDonald's coffee.
The same ad agency did a whole bunch of these 20-second nightmares in 2008, like the one with the infinite beard, the one with the newscaster parrot, and the one with the ... Jesus, we don't even know. Is all the coffee in Sweden spiked? Like, is it a law or something?
Get Orkin Pest Control, or Give up Your Child to the Rat Demons
Orkin pest control has pretty much covered all the basics by now: ants, termites, roaches, you name it. In 2011, and with the help of a Dallas ad agency, Orkin decided to remind everyone that they can also help you get rid other types of pests in a funny, whimsical way.
Pest control companies play on our fears of infestation all the time in advertisements, which is fair. This commercial, however, crosses the damned line and makes the experience of finding a roach in your Raisin Bran seem positively pleasant in comparison. We start with a family coming home from a vacation to find strangers shredding like Eddie Van Halen in their living room. This would be distressing enough on its own, but one look at the faces of the family members tells you ...
Wasn't this in Signs?
... they have just come face to face with something not of this world. Something ... wrong. Something that should not be. Namely, these dudes:
Guitar Hero? We thought rats lived in walls, not 2006.
Then one of the Rats Who Walk As Men -- incidentally, the name of their band -- slowly raises a black-clawed ... forepaw? Hand?
We can't fault them for turning to crime: Their dad was too busy raising turtles.
He tells the family that they were not expected until Sunday. His tone betrays no fear of these interlopers, only the mild displeasure of one who must kill before the killing time has come. He singles out "the boy," claiming they could "use him ... on drums." As in, they'll skin him and turn him into ceremonial instruments to be played as they sacrifice the rest of the family to their Great Rat God, probably.
"Hey guys, those two giant rat puppets in the ad looked super real!"
"What do you mean, 'two'?"
The family backs away slowly, too afraid to run, clutching each other for safety, pants thoroughly soaked.
"Uhhh, wrong house."
That's when the Orkin man shows up, and we see the Man-Rats drive past the house in a rusty jalopy. It's the part of the commercial that's supposed to tell you, "With Orkin, rats will stay out!" but instead says, "They are still out there. Watching. Waiting."
Orkin did a complete series of these "creepy giant pests" ads, which were created using a combination of animatronics, various puppeteers, and Satanic possession.
The Levi's Marketing Department Discovers Drugs
By the 1970s, Levi's was already a well-established maker of pants, but it's easy for a company that big to start being seen as old fashioned. That's why, hoping to appeal to the youth of the '70s, at some point some higher-up at Levi's must have said, "Make me the '70s-ist goddamn commercial ever made!" and the ad men delivered. Oh, they delivered.The Horror:
Let's agree that most people in the '70s were probably on drugs. Let's also agree that The Beatles' Yellow Submarine movie did pretty well, and that it made sense for ads to try to imitate its trippy style. That still doesn't explain what the fuck we just saw, or why Levi's thought it would help them sell a single pair of pants.
In their defense, it doesn't take many brand-loyal millipedes to keep a pants company afloat.
This ad tells the story of man's evolution into a creature capable of wearing pants on his legs, and it does so in the most insanely terrifying way possible: by giving us glimpses of a world where man evolved into other lifeforms, yet was doggedly determined to have a dude's head with '70s hair, no matter what monstrous torso it was attached to. In the coked-out minds behind this commercial, we could have been fish-men with fin-pants:
Or possibly floating, legged pineapples.
Or bird men with wing-pants:
"Levi's: Wear them on your arms. We don't care."
Or even this mutated finger-in-God's-eye:
Levi's seems to be missing the whole "use 'em to cover your genitals" aspect of pants.
And if the prospect of seeing one hideous man-animal hybrid morphing into an even greater abomination over and over again wasn't enough, we have the music, which is straight out of a grindhouse movie about cannibal vampire Satanists, and the voiceover, which has the soothing quality of an ex-Nazi dentist telling you to relax and let the gas do its work. The most Levi's-shittingly intense moment comes courtesy of the narrator, and the two words he whispers:
Try Helvetica next time, guys.
We wouldn't be surprised if this whole thing was a coded message to some executive's dealer saying, "The LSD worked fine. Send more."
The Rice Krinkles Cereal Clown Will Eat Your Soul
Before we show you this commercial, we feel like we have to point out two things: First, even though it's in black and white, sanity had already been invented by then. This was made in the '60s, when normal, perfectly sane things like The Great Escape, The Graduate, or Mary Poppins were being made. So if a certain cereal company decided to make a commercial starring a clown, it didn't have to end up looking completely terrifying. There are lots of non-scary clowns in the world.
The second thing we wanted to point out is that Cracked accepts no responsibility for any sudden accidents suffered while reading this article.The Horror:
OK, this is it. This is the exact moment when humanity's phobia of clowns was violently born. It has to be, right? Look at that face. Pay attention to the way it blinks, or doesn't. Watch as its eyes squint when it tells you, not asks you, that you love Post Sugar Rice Krinkles best of all. Krinkle the Klown is the granddaddy of every creepy circus-dweller with a painted face that ever traumatized a child, even those that predate him.
If there's a cereal commercial not improved by a severed head, we haven't seen it.
The ad begins when Krinkle is driven from his subterranean lair by a hunger that can only be satisfied by that most krinkliest of cereals. He dives into a bowl, all the while making faces that suggest "krinkly" is another word for "having the texture of broken glass."
"It krinkles all the way down! Pain is pleasure!"
Having inflicted second-degree krinkle cuts on his mouth and throat, Krinkle craves a victim to share in the sweet torment that is Post Sugar Rice Krinkles. For you see, his is not a selfish hunger, but one that must be shared. Pouring a second bowl of milk-drenched agony, we see, for just a moment, a pair of hands reach out to take it ...
"Eat this, and the contract shall be sealed."
... and we realize that Krinkle's big top was not as deserted as it seemed. All along, his krinkle-crazed ranting had had an audience, in the form of a child. Is this the child's first hellishly krinkly breakfast with the Klown? Is it his last? We will never know.
"And remember: I am behind every cereal box, always, watching you. Always."
Believe it or not, Post isn't a company devoted to causing terror in children and monetizing their tears -- most of their commercials back then weren't terrifying, just racist.
Related Reading: Think commercials can't get any worse? Behold, the Zune's paint-shitting fat man commercial. If that's not mad enough for you, try this French dairy commercial with dead babies and a cow on wheels. Still haven't hit your quota of terrifying ads? Don't worry, Cracked has you covered.