In the world of marketing, bizarre concepts combined with familiar and repetitive slogans seems to be the recipe for success in attracting new customers. Yet, this tried and true method of marketing seems to have gone to the extreme in recent years with some commercials gaining infamy as the weirdest and most disturbing ads that have ever been made.
The traditional way of advertising in previous decades was for companies to explain their products’ characteristics and make a direct pitch to customers, which seems to have gone out the window. They have now been replaced with new weird ad campaigns that, strangely, still seem to be effective.
Still, while these new ads may be the most effective in gaining consumer attention, they have sometimes been met with complaints and demands to pull the ads for being too indecent or taboo for viewers. However, many of these companies are very smart with their marketing and try not to cross the line too far in order to avoid being censored.
The main reason why these bizarre ads are so powerful is because of modern psychology. In a society where the average person has a short attention span and our minds are drawn to change and controversy, taboo topics and random events in ads attract viewers like a moth to a flame. It has been shown that people remember unusual slogans and videos much easier than more normal words and images.
In fact, most of the bizarre ads below gained their fame through being constantly replayed through YouTube due to their controversial or creepy nature, which only encouraged people to post and comment on them. This further demonstrates that the internet and social media have given ads an unlimited numbers of replays, which makes adding in humour and absurdity to them all the more important.
The five ads mentioned in this article are by far some of the most bizarre ads out there. These and many other ads that are being released are paving the way for an increasingly absurd and strange forms of advertising that will continue to push the boundaries of what is appropriate in society.
5 5: Old Spice
Old Spice is an American brand of grooming products tailored towards men. The brand was actually first meant for women in the late 1930s, but it was later realized as a men’s product since shaving soap and aftershave lotions were more popular in the market at the time. Today, Old Spice products include a variety of scented deodorants, body wash, shaving gel, and fragrances for men.
In 2010, Old Spice released a thirty-three second television commercial, titled “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”. The commercial features Isaiah Mustafa who promotes the product known as “Red Zone After Hours Body Wash”. The clip shows the transition of a man from his bathroom to a yacht to a beach where he is riding a horse. Throughout the clip, the man never leaves is gaze from the audience. This ad actually was intended to target women because women tend to shop for products more often than men.
The ad currently has 48 million views on YouTube.
4 4: Phones 4u
Phones 4u is a British based cell phone retail giant that has over 600 stores and employs over 8,000 people. They are well known for their controversial ad campaigns, which have in the past included a Buddy Christ ad that depicted Jesus Christ as winking and giving a thumbs up while delivering a message about great deals during Easter. This ad was met with great criticism for poking fun at Christianity and being insensitive and was later censored.
Still, by far the most bizarre ads it has presented is in the “Missing Our Deals Will Haunt You” marketing campaign for the new Samsung phone. The first ad features a dark underground parking garage with a woman walking to her car when suddenly a ghostly little girl who looks like the girl from The Ring appears and tells her to buy one of Phone 4u’s new phones. This ad was quite possibly one of the most horrifying mainstream ads ever made.
The second ad in the campaign was far tamer, with a zombie showing up next to a man in the woods and politely trying to sell him a discount phone. Overall, these phone ads were over the top horror movie clichés and would certainly have been very disturbing to any young children watching them.
3 3: Skittles
Skittles candy has existed since the 1970s and is the second most popular candy in the US behind Starbursts. The company has been known to have strange ads, launching its “Taste the Rainbow” marketing campaign in 1994. Its previous ads have included kids sitting on rainbows, a man with a skittles-snatching beard and skittles growing out of people’s bodies such as the one ad featuring a human skittles tree.
These ads all have a similar slogan and have almost always been funny and enjoyable. These skittles commercials have mostly been in good fun; however, in recent years, they have gone from unusual to downright outrageous in some cases.
2 2: Juicy Fruit
Juicy Fruit is by far the most successful chewing gum company with almost a hundred percent recognition of the brand name. The gum was first introduced in 1893 by the Wrigley family and was the first gum to launch the use of UPC codes in 1974. Throughout the last ten decades, Juicy Fruit has grown and re-invented its gum on a global scale, even recently releasing its first sugar-free gum in 2010, naming it “Sweet Fruit”.
In 2004, Juicy Fruit released a bizarre yet funny commercial that featured an animated CPR dummy. After a male student pops a Juicy Fruit gum into his mouth, the gym teacher selects him to perform CPR on a dummy. As he performs mouth to mouth, the dummy springs to life with the Juicy Fruit gum now in his mouth. The dummy then quickly grabs the pack of Juicy Fruit and bolts out of the swimming pool area when the door is opened. The male student chases the dummy at school until the dummy hits a car and he drops the gum. The student is lastly seen taking his package away from the now unanimated CPR dummy while trying to revive it.
Although this ad was posted on YouTube in 2010 and has received only 34,000 views, it was quite popular when it was on TV in 2004.
1 1: Little Baby’s Ice Cream
Little Baby’s Ice Cream provides non-dairy and vegan option ice cream to its customers in Philadelphia, which is known to have the longest operating Ice Cream company in the USA. Ice cream in Philadelphia is huge, and famous for its unique style, which requires few to no eggs in its recipe. Little Baby’s Ice Cream has tons of different and unique flavourful types of ice cream, such as Strawberry Pink Peppercorn and Sweet Potato Burnt Marshmallow.
In August 2012, Little Baby’s Ice Cream released a new commercial, titled “This is a Special Time”. Even though this bizarre advertisement comes across as terrifying, the advertisement currently has almost six million hits on YouTube. The commercial shows a man gazing unsettlingly into the camera while being covered with vanilla ice cream. As the narrative speaks, the man scoops a spoonful of ice cream off of his own head and slowly eats it.
However, back in May 2012, Little Baby’s Ice Cream released its first commercial known as “Love Lickers”, though the advertisement only received about 772, 335 views on YouTube. Again, this similar advertisement shows a man smiling in an ice cream cone and staring at a smaller version of himself in another ice cream cone that he is holding. These ads are definitely two of the most terrifying commercials that an audience has ever seen.