A Spotify advertisement has been banned from TV and YouTube in the UK for being too creepy. Using time-tested psychological horror to unsettle viewers, it earned the ire of the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority, which ruled on Wednesday that the ad was “unduly distressing” and shouldn’t be viewed by children. While the ASA deemed the ad too scary for children, the unique psychology behind the ad’s creepiness affects children and adults alike.
It features Camila Cabello’s sexy, summery song “Havana,” a stark backdrop for what’s essentially a trailer for a supernatural horror flick. The “unduly distressing” part of the ad is an expressionless doll with gangly limbs that looks just human enough to be familiar but just un-human enough to be deeply unsettling. And this is exactly how it makes our brains recoil in terror and confusion.