The 13 Freakiest Ads of 2013

In a year that became known for its edgy prankvertising, the question was more relevant than ever: How much should you provoke consumers to get a reaction from them?

The 13 marketers on this list decided to go for broke, pummeling viewers with every sort of disturbing advertising theme, from mental illness to drowning deaths to Christopher Walken—with varying degrees of effectiveness. Proceed to the link below at your own risk, and tell us which campaign you found to be this year's freakiest.



The target for the Citroën's DS3 Cabrio? Apparently it's a man who imagines himself, while driving, to be a cherubic toddler with long, flowing, flaxen hair, galloping along pristine beaches astride a giant white horse. A typically loopy spot by director Tom Kuntz.



Samsung does great ads, it does terrible ads, and it does freaky-ass ads. "Evolutionary Husband" falls into the latter category, with brilliantly disturbing performances by the lead actor as both a wife-annoying Neanderthal and wife-pleasing robot.


Galaxy Chocolate Bars

One time-honored way of making a creepy commercial is to throw a dead person into it. Audrey Hepburn was exhumed once more (following her 2006 cameo for Gap) in this ad for chocolate bars. Ghoulish, indeed.



"In water, humans drown just as fish suffocate on land. It's slow and painful and frightening. … Put yourself in their place. Try to relate." So says Joaquin Phoenix as he appears to drown in this PETA ad, which ABC refused to air during the Oscars. Striking and suffocating to the viewer as well.



Ibizious isn't a real product, but it got one of the year's freakiest ads anyway. Zombies, beach bodies, Michael Jackson, Street Fighter 2—it's all in this insane four-minute clip, created to launch a new nightclub called Amnesia on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza.


Marc Jacobs

This extremely odd Marc Jacobs video featured the brand's president, Robert Duffy, announcing something about a photo truck being outside its Bleecker Street store—but instead of saying it, Duffy is lip-syncing some other guy saying it. Shudder.



I loved these "Brokeface" ads, in which patients visit a psychiatrist after shattering the screens of their laptops. But they're undeniably unsettling—a tour de force of weird.


The Last Exorcism Part II

It was a big year for prankvertising, as brands terrified unsuspecting people in public. Ad agency Thinkmodo had a giant hit with its Carrie viral, starring a supposedly telekinetic girl, but this spot for The Last Exorcism Part II was much freakier.



The creepiest tablet commercial ever made, this Nokia spot featured a frightening barber who convinced his innocent customer to get a mullet—an outdated hairdo that's a metaphor for the cutting-edge device.


Cancer Society of Finland

A mom thinks up all sorts of awful ways to kill—or at least grievously injure—her baby in this crazy PSA from Finland.



The race to produce the most terrifying ad prank was fierce this year. The honor might have gone to LG for its sadistic doomsday scenario. But this drunk-driving PSA wins out for its blunt impact. Good thing these guys were in a bathroom already when all hell broke loose.


Herbaria Tea

You had me at drowning clown. Oh, you want to throw in a ghost and a bloated murderer's corpse as well? Fine. But I'll need something stronger than tea after this.


Jack & Jones

Christopher Walken played the world's weirdest tailor in these crazy Danish clothing ads. His piercing gaze is scary enough. Throw in some sheep, and you're off the deep end. The work takes our No. 1 spot not just for being weird. It was also very entertaining. (It won the Film Grand Prix at the Epica Awards.) Rather than just disturb people, how about making something compelling out of something strange? Now there's a freaky idea.

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