Uber Eats Halloween Treats campaign most terrifying ad ever

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An Uber Eats campaign that warns about the dangers of running out of treats on Halloween night is the scariest ad of all time.

That’s according to new research from creative effectiveness platform DAIVID, which ahead of ‘Fright Night’ has used its advanced content testing platform – which measures the emotions people feel while watching ads – to identify the most frightening campaigns ever.

Ads featured in the list include ads that were banned from YouTube and TV for being ‘too shocking’ and ‘distressing’.

Topping the list of the scariest ads of all time is Uber Eats’ “Don’t Run Out”, released last year, which DAIVID’s ad testing tech platform found is the ad most likely to leave viewers hiding behind their armchair cushions after generating the most intense feelings of fear, anxiety and horror overall.

The ad was 2.1 times more likely to leave people feeling anxious than the average ad, 1.7 times more likely to generate feelings of horror and 1.8 times more likely to leave viewers feeling fearful.

The campaign also scored the second highest among all the ads in the chart for brand recall (85%), demonstrating just how effective intense feelings can be at driving strong memories among consumers.

That put it just ahead of two ads both banned for being “unduly distressing” and “shocking”  – Spotify’s 2018 ad “Killer Songs You Can’t Resist”, in second spot, and a 2016 Christmas campaign for Thorpe Park’s Ghost Ride, in third.

terrifying 2013 ad for Japanese tyre firm Autoway and Dirt Devil’s spoof of the classic horror movie The Exorcist make up the rest of the top 5.

Other ads in the top 10 include a creepy Burger King ad featuring some very scary clowns, a shocking Warner Bros teaser for the movie ‘The Nun’  that was banned from YouTube in 2018 and an unsettling campaign for Little Baby’s Ice Cream.

Ads that just missed out on the top 10 include a banned campaign for Phones4U, featuring a women being harassed by a ghost offering her a good phone deal (14th); a horrifying PSA from Fragile Childhood, a Finnish organisation focused on tackling alcohol abuse (23rd); and a chilling UK infomercial from the 70s warning children of the dangers of playing near water (27th).

Based in London, DAIVID, uses a suite of technologies – including facial coding, eye tracking and computer vision – to help advertisers optimise the business and emotional impact of their ad campaigns.

Clients include Mediacom, Omnicom and ADK Marketing Solutions.

The Most Terrifying Ads Of All Time – DAIVID (Viewer discretion advised)

Rank

Brand

Campaign

Scariness score (out of 100)

1

Uber Eats

Don’t Run Out

72.7

2

Spotify

Killer Songs You Can’t Resist

72.3

3

Thorpe Park

Count the Snow Bunnies

71.3

4

Autoway Tyres

Scary Ad

69.3

5

Dirt Devil

The Exorcist

69.0

6

Deep SIlver

Dead Island Trailer

66.7

7

Burger King

Scary Clown Night

65.0

8

Warner Bros/ New Line

The Nun

62.3

9

K-Fee

Car Commercial

62.3

10

Little Baby’s Ice Cream

This is a Special Time

61.7

Ian Forrester, CEO and founder of DAIVID, said: “We all know emotions play a key role in ad effectiveness – and you don’t get many events in the calendar year more likely to elicit intense emotions than Halloween.

“So, with Fright Night (Halloween) approaching, we thought it would be fun to peer into Adland’s dark dungeon of scary ads to see which generated the most intense feelings of fear, horror and anxiety.

“Uber Eats certainly did that with its terrifying campaign ‘Don’t Run Out’, but what I found really interesting was how the ad also drove strong brand metrics – brand recall in particular, was very strong.

|This is what the best Halloween ads do. It’s not just about scaring people, the best brands combine these strong emotions with a powerful brand story to create brand memories, which in turn drives action.”

DAIVID’s list of the most terrifying ads of all time was created using the company’s suite of content testing solutions, which uses facial coding, machine learning and survey responses to measure people’s emotions while watching ads.

They are then categorised through the company’s proprietary DAIVID 39 framework – created using the world’s most advanced academic studies on emotions.

Altogether, 2,765 respondents took part in the study in September-October 2023.

Ads were ranked based on the average percentage of viewers who felt intense feelings of fear (the extent to which an ad makes a viewer feels scared), horror (the extent to which a moment in an ad shocks viewers) and anxiety (the extent to which an ad makes viewers feel increasingly tense). Movie trailers were not included.