Great advertising has the power to move us, to make us laugh, cry, and occasionally…shiver in fright! This witching season, Esparza is rounding up some of the scariest commercials known to advertising. From the campy, to the creepy, to the downright bizarre, here are three ads that made a scene, or should we say scream. 

Sony PlayStation: Mental Wealth, 1999

Sony’s 1990s campaigns for PlayStation involved crying baby dolls, a telekinetic Bambi, and reportedly, an actual goat sacrifice. Amidst the bizarre set of ads, this spot of an alienesque girl monologuing about ‘mental wealth’ stood out as a conversation piece of the 90s. The seemingly non-sequitur ad amassed attention online and in magazines, largely because the face alteration on the spot’s actress was so convincing, many viewers thought it was her real face.

We think it still holds up pretty well, even in the age of TikTok face filters.

Little Baby’s Ice Cream: This is a Special Time, 2012

Little Baby’s Ice Cream, a brick-and-mortar shop in Philadelphia, gained national attention for this 2012 ad, featuring a man made of ice cream cannibalizing himself. We’re not sure if the ad makes us want to eat ice cream (potentially, ever again), but it’s hard to forget this ice-cream man’s unblinking gaze and creamy skin.

K-Fee: Auto, 2005

While the jump scare might be cliché in horror movies, it’s not something viewers of this ad for K-Fee, a German coffee company, were expecting. The shocking ad might not have endeared the faint of heart to KFee coffee, but we can’t deny this ad woke us up like a triple shot in our cold brew. It also had a huge impact online, amassing over 36 million views on its original YouTube upload.

So what do you think? Are scary ads an effective way of advertising? Is the shock factor worth the potential negative associations with the brand? Or maybe these spooky ads belong exclusively in the past … and our nightmares.