Research by DAIVID Reveals the Most Terrifying Ad of All Time

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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 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 is a global tech platform that enables advertisers to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of their creative at scale. In today's content-saturated, always-on world, DAIVID helps marketers cut through the noise. The UK-based company empowers...
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