Creepiest Print Ads From the Last 100 Years

6 years, 10 months ago
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The Ghost Diaries is a big fan of creepy old pictures. Recently, we stumbled upon a site called VintageAdBrowser.com and combed through their impressive archives of old print ads. Some of their ads date as far back as the 1850’s. As we sorted through old war-time propaganda and pulp Marlboro ads, we realized that there were several that could just as well be horror movie covers.

French Demon

We’re not sure what product this is advertising–probably alcohol–but this demon couldn’t possibly appeal to any consumer on the Earth…maybe this ad is from Hell. Or an early manifestation of the White Rascal beer demon.

scary print ad

scary print ad

Bad Weather

It’s fairly baffling that Michelin would think to advertise themselves as being a motorist’s only defense against a giant monster made of storm clouds. Do they think of adult consumers as toddlers?

Perhaps we’ve read this all wrong–it’s actually a metaphor for geo-engineering. Or an omen for climate change.

scary print ads

scary print ads


The question mark sums this one up nicely…what the hell is this?

demon ad

demon ad

A Dark Spirit

Why this would be considered an advertisement for anything, much less alcohol, is beyond us. Perhaps alcoholics in the 1940s liked poetic depictions of their slow descents into cirrhosis. We think it’s creepy and we don’t like it.

death ad

death ad

Communist snake monster

We conjecture that this is an early century Communist propaganda ad depicting industrial capitalism as an evil snake monster…we’d hate to see what they put for Stalin’s animal spirit.

monster print ad

monster print ad

Kill the Americans!

Is there any other meaning to this horrific image? Is that bug spray killing flies??


Demon baby

At first, this image seems like a harmless meat ad from the ’50s. Then you see the demon baby on the side…and you began to have an acid flashback.

demon baby

Marlboro Baby

Just a big bowl of wrong.

marlboro baby

The Butcher

Your neighborhood butcher wants your hand…just your hand.


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  • loraallen

    “???” is a WW1 poster asking the viewer what they’re going to do about German imperialism. (You’re supposed to answer “Enlist and get my butt shot off in a filthy, lice infested trench!”)
    “A Dark Spirit” is actually a warning about the dangers of absinthe.

  • R. O’Neill

    The first ad is for Absinthe. A popular spirit made of essence of Wormwood consumed heavily in Europe in the late 19th century. Often known as the “green fairy”. The second ad depicting the skeleton is most likely an ad against Absinthe drinking. It was scapegoated and demonized to the point of it’s sale and consumption being banned.