5 min read

Top 6 Weird Vintage Ads That Will Freak You Out (+6 More)

Written by
Pavlo Fedykovych
Published on
October 3, 2023
May 29, 2024

Some vintage ads are more unsettling than others. We’ve done one list of the weirdest marketing campaigns of the yesteryears last year and it’s time to do another one and add some strange and unusual. Why? Because who doesn’t like a creepy vintage ad? Anyway, if you googled “weird vintage ads”, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s go right into the world of old-school bizarro, shall we?

1. Rejuvenique - Electric Facial Mask

Why: just watch this infomercial. But don’t do it before going to bed. Or when you’re home alone. We warned you, now it’s too late. Yes, that’s an actual product. Linda Evans leads the commercial that introduces us to the chic-named but Friday 13 killer-looking facemask that supposedly helps reduce wrinkles by applying electricity to massage your face. Although the commercial is from 1999, this mask can be bought on Amazon even today. Yahoo made a review of Rejuvenique in 2016 and yes, it’s creepy as hell. 

On the bright side of things, even if your wrinkles are not reduced as the product promises, you will have a neat Halloween costume right there that can easily stand for a “masked serial killer”. And please don’t wear it around any deserted lakes at night. 

2. Burger King - Wake Up With the King

Why: sorry, but after watching this weird vintage ad a new phobia will be unlocked for you. That is waking up to the “king” straight from the uncanny valley. Burger King experimented with ad formats in 2004 and came up with this horrific idea.

Why not place a human-looking (but not actually a human, is he?) king of some sort and make him offer a burger to a man alongside him on the bed? Great concept, right? Here we are revisiting that piece of creepy marketing and hoping hard that nothing like this ever happens in our lives. Just nope. Nice marketing, though.

3. Betty Crocker - Gushers

Why: Betty Crocker has always had a penchant for creeping everyone out with their commercials. Gushers is a great example of that. Released in 1995, it features some horrid yet charming computer graphics, children's heads transforming into fruits, and some unsettling sounds that go with the process. “Freaky” is a good way to describe this vintage ad that is as weird as it is nostalgic and somewhat charming even.

Banana Boy wouldn’t look out of place in a slasher movie, though. There’s just something wrong about these fruit heads. Try turning the sound off and it’s quite a menacing piece of transformational horror a la David Cronenberg. 

4. Snickers - Halloween Grocery Store Lady

Why: we know, this Snickers ad was supposed to be hilariously creepy and was made specifically for Halloween. But something about it just feels like the company really went too far with the scary part. Like what’s up with this lonely supermarket encounter between an ordinary woman and the Babadook-like “Halloween Grocery Store Lady”? Some companies use well-established spooky figures like ghosts, vampires, zombies, etc. But who the hell is this grocery lady? Why is she taller than humans? And, most importantly, why does she have a little (undead?) baby inside of her? That’s the nopest of the nope. But a really one of the coolest weird vintage ads to check out nonetheless.

5. Remco - Baby Laugh'a'Lot

Why: one of the weird vintage ads ever is not surprisingly a commercial for a doll. If you are by any chance afraid of dolls, don’t watch this video. Really, we warned you. Because there are not many things as fear-inducing as a laugh of a doll. Yes, the now-bankrupt company popular in the 60s Remco has advertised a laughing doll. It’s exactly how horror movies capture it. Imagine coming home and there’s a laugh and the laugh is coming not from a living being but a plastic creepy looking vintage doll.

To make things even more hard-hitting on your nerves, the end of the video features a grown man’s laugh joining the orchestra of children’s laughs. It feels really inappropriate and dirty for some reason. Also, this man’s laugh gives slightly creepy, psychopathic vibes. Maybe it’s good that Remco went bankrupt, the fewer laughing dolls are there in the world, the better. 

6. Levi’s - Evolution

Why: 70s, man. Levi’s just went along with the flow delivering one of the weirdest but also immensely creative and cool-looking commercials. It may also be one of the most original jeans ads ever. Starting from the psychedelic visuals to the Alladin-on-acid-type-of-soundtrack, it’s just wholesome in its own weird kind of way. The plot is just another level. It’s hard to describe it when you’re sober. It imagines various creatures wearing Levi’s products and asks a question about evolution and the role of their jeans in it. Pretty profound stuff. Anyway, it’s there to be enjoyed so just give in to this phantasmagoric marketing masterpiece and go with the vibe. 

Here's our 2022 list of the top 6 weird vintage ads that will freak you out!

The ads have been around for a while. And there are some really really weird vintage ads. We’ve made various ad compilations over the years, that’s a new one. Because, as they say, in order to know your future you should know your past. Well, the past is quite strange. But advertising has never been trivial and these 6 awesome vintage weird ads prove it.

1. Knorr Soup - So good you go schloup! 

Why: once you’ve seen it it’s hard to unsee. Apparently, Knorr thought that having a commercial with the aesthetics of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a great idea. But it’s the 80s and everything went. Just reading the YouTube comments from the people that have actually witnessed the ad on TV makes you realize how much damage it has done to the innocent minds of kids (and adults). That’s one of those retro weird vintage ads that is a golden fund of creepy commercials. 

Seriously, why would a dirty scarecrow want to break into your house to have a Knorr soup? We may never know the answer. 

2. Liquid Prell Shampoo - Isle of Green

Why: weird vintage ads come and go, but this one stays in your nightmares. The camera rolls into the green shampoo bottle and suddenly you’re in a sort of an enchanted forest with three James Bond girl-looking vixens luring you to buy it. The 70s were the years of cults and this ad definitely has a chunk of this hypnotic, vicious energy.

It’s also the way they talk that gives you uneasy chills with cold sweat dripping down your spine. Ok, we’re buying the Liquid Prell Shampoo, just don’t induce a curse on us!

3. PSA Commercial with Joanna Cassidy - Smokey the Bear

Why: this one starts like a regular PSA but something tells you it will go bonkers at some point. So you’re tense, listening carefully to what Joanna Cassidy of Blade Runner fame has to say about being careful in the American forests.

As the camera gets closer to her face you sense something bad to happen to the actress. And you’re right, there was no Joanna Cassidy, it was Smokey the Bear talking to you all along disguised as the famous actress. Mind. Blown. 

4. My Little Puppy

Why: it’s all colorful and cheerful in the beginning. A new puppy comes into a family, plays with kids, and does his fun dog stuff. It’s a great atmosphere of joy and friendship. That doesn’t last long, though. After a series of misdemeanors (like messing with things and pissing on the floor), the tables turn on poor little puppy. He’s not welcome here anymore. 

The father takes a black bag, puts the puppy in it, and throws the little dog in the river to die under the bridge. Trauma? Definitely. Weird, disturbing, and straightforwardly mean. Although it does teach a lesson and that’s what good ads should do. Just, please, don’t include the footage of killing a fluffy puppy by drowning. 

5. Coca-Cola - Coke keeps you thin

Why: one of the top weird vintage ads of the 60s, Coke’s commercial is a chaotic manifesto that didn’t quite age well. The classic Hollywood actress Connie Clausen recites lines as if she was kidnapped to a creepy room with a mannequin and is held at the gunpoint.

We’re graced with such pearls as “no more calories than half a grapefruit”, “Coke’s a natural wholesome blending of pure food flavors”, and “isn’t it great that sugar doesn’t have any fat in it”. Overall, it’s a sign of the times and generally a pleasant commercial to look at. 

6. McDonald's - Ronald McDonald introduction

Why: believe it or not, there was a time when Ronald McDonald hasn’t been created yet. This weird vintage ad introduced the world to this clown symbol. Does he look terrifying? Absolutely. If you want more terror try watching the ad without sound.

Still, you have to pay some respect too. It was a turning point for McDonald’s and an event that changed the branding forever. If you are afraid of the clown, it’s definitely an ad to avoid at all costs. We warned you. 

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