The Terrifying Way Some Scandinavian Burger Kings Are Trolling McDonald's

Burger King is still the reigning monarch of unusual ad campaigns. Up until now, however, they haven't actually resorted to scaring us to death in order to sell burgers (unless you count that moldy Whopper ad that was more likely to inspire disgust than terror, since we already know that bad things are likely to happen if you leave your food out of the fridge too long). Even their climate change ad was more "WTF" than "eek," since it played like a Nightmare on Sesame Street until getting yanked by the chain for spreading too much manure.

In Europe, where there are still a few monarchs of the non-fast food variety kicking around, BK's ad agencies are perhaps afraid of committing lèse-majesté, so they seem to let that crazy king do whatever he wants. At times, however, the chain seems to be sending a somewhat mixed message. Last month in Finland the king literally embraced his arch-rival Ronald, but just weeks later Danish and Swedish Burger Kings are back to dissing the down-on-his-luck clown.

The spooky "canceled clown" campaign

According to Campaign, these Scandinavian Burger King ads are a twist on the old Bloody Mary legend-turned-adolescent party game, where you look into a mirror and say the words "Bloody Mary" three times and then some grisly ghost lady pops out of the mirror and hands you a vodka-spiked tomato juice – or something like that. Who even knew this urban legend had spread to Scandinavia?

At any rate, how this particular spooky Burger King commercial unwinds is, a person goes into a bathroom, looks into the mirror, and recites the words "canceled clown, canceled clown, canceled clown." At which point, a terrifying apparition occurs: a creepy clown who bears a strong resemblance to the pink-slipped mascot of a certain competing burger chain. Although the clown does not hand the summoner a moldy Big Mac, Daniel Schröder, Burger King Sweden's marketing director, said the clown "doesn't seem to be happy with the way things ended," adding that "we hope he finds his peace and can move on to bigger and better things." Such as... becoming a non-creepy clown? After all, it was never actually Ronald's fault that his brethren earned such a bad rep.

This isn't the first time BK has used creepy clowns for Halloween

While the canceled clown commercial isn't running in the US, a few years back Burger King US did utilize the whole "creepy clown" trope to advertise a special Halloween deal. The promo, tagged as #ScaryClownNight, ran in select cities and involved handing out free Whoppers to the first 500 patrons to show up dressed in clown costumes on Halloween night. While the promo itself wasn't particularly terrifying, except to the hardcore coulrophobics among us, the commercial was admittedly pretty eerie (via YouTube)

The scene it set when a young man steps out his door, only to find a bulb horn on the porch. Looking pretty spooked, he gets on his bike and peddles off into the night. The teen hasn't been going but a few seconds when he has his first encounter of the clown kind with a bike-riding Ronald McDonald look-alike. He rides on, meeting more and more clowns en route. Our protagonist finally reaches the sanctity of a sheltering Burger King... except, when he opens the door he finds the restaurant pitch black and filled with still more clowns demanding Whoppers. Eek! That has to be one of the most spine-chilling fast food commercials of all time. The only thing worse than an Unhappy Meal is a pee-your-pants scary meal, and if Burger King keeps sending in the clowns, they're going to inspire more nightmares than burger cravings.