Hey howdy hey! This was going to be a full film review, but due to a miscommunication at work, I’ll be waitressing in Doncaster for longer than expected. So I’ll keep this one short and sweet, and reserve some much-needed energy for clearing tables. (Jean Paul Sartre once said that Hell is other people. I say Hell is other people’ s empty wine glasses.)
You may think that the featured image tells you everything you need to know about this particular video, but in fact, there’s even more horror to be had.
Little Baby’s Ice Cream is an ice cream company based in Philadelphia in the USA, and they’ve run a series of equally creepy TV advertisements to make sure YOU know about their brand. At first, I couldn’t work out if the ads were MEANT to horrify, or just be shocking enough to stick in people’s minds. Because they mostly horrify.
The ad which I’ve chosen to focus on features a man who is white all over and very, very slippery. Oh right, he’s made out of ice cream. Fair enough. One of my closest friends is made out of beetroot coleslaw, so… you know. I’m not one to judge someone for the, er, consistency of their skin.
The creature proceeds to lift a spoon up to his head, scoop a divot of ice cream from his head and then eat the ice cream he just scooped out of his head. N’nyaaaAAAAAaaargh.
Oh, but that’s not all. There’s a voiceover narration. Let’s break it down.
“There’s good reason for my glistening skin,”
I don’t think ‘glistening’ is a good word in any sense, unless you’re basting a turkey.
“and how I shine, and how my pores are so clean and clear.”
Well, that’s just confusing. It’s like those Yoplait Perle de Lait ads where the women start rubbing the yoghurt on their faces. Is it food or a face mask? Make up your minds!
“I eat Little Baby’s […] Ice Cream.“
Ah ha HA, I see what you did there, with that micro-pause. You made us think you were going to say, “I eat little babies”, didn’t you? Didn’t you, you… thing?
“It keeps me young. It keeps me light on my feet. I spring from activity to activity. I love my job. I love my life.”
You have a job?! Serious, who’s going to hire a creature who habitually snacks on its own noggin?
“When you eat Little Baby’s Ice Cream, you’ll wink and nod and hug and high five each other with great enthusiasm.”
Well, personally, this is the part that creeps me out the most. I’ll try to explain why. The overall sense I get from the advert is that the product is targeted towards children. It IS called Little Baby’s, after all. And the whole winking, nodding, hugging and high-fiving thing that the creature preaches… well, that’s next door to playing hopscotch and doing handstands in my book.
Now, kids being kids isn’t necessarily scary. But if the kids are supposed to look as superlatively happy as Mr. Ice Cream Head over there, THEN we have a problem. Demon children! Scary! Argh. No.
“This is a special time.”
The time of the uprising of the devil-spawn.
The advert finishes with a final presentation of the brand name and logo, and then the creature tells us with great relish,
“Ice cream is a feeling!”
Now, I decided to write out the entire ice cream speech by hand, and it’s not too terrifying in itself. It would have been OK if they’d cast a more relaxed and cheery narrator, maybe scrapped the creature and shown, I dunno, a puppy romping through a grassy field. But no. All this creepiness was very deliberate.
So, does it make the audience want to eat the ice cream?
Let’s take another look at the creature. It seems happy. In fact, it seems INSANELY happy, this being the feeling which the ice cream apparently represents. Also, despite the voiceover being read out by a male actor, the creature’s actual gender is left ambiguous. It could be male, could be female. It certainly has unusually large eyes for a dude. Then again, this ambiguity could also have been deliberate – intended to make the creature more frightening. Ambiguity is a very important part of creepiness. We, the audience, have no idea if the Ice Cream Creature is a threat or not, and so our brains don’t know how to react to it. Is the narrator really in good spirits, or is that voice about to turn sharp and sour as he’s driven over the edge of insanity? Is the creature really smiling because he’s happy, or is that just what he wants us to think? No, the smile HAS to be false. It has to be. No ice cream is that delicious.
Unless it is.
Maybe I should try some.
As I looked into the making of this advert, I found a video from Doug Garth Williams, the director/editor/creepy weirdo. He explained that the ad’s actor had to be covered in marshmallow fluff to get the right melty-headed aesthetic, and if you want to try it out at home, he reckons about 20 jars should do the trick. The head compression was also created with a combination of the distortion effect in Adobe and a reverse motion tracking to keep everything in line with the actor’s movements. I mention all this because a) it fascinates me, and b) it takes away some of the ad’s inherent creepiness (but not all of it).
The more I watched, the more it grew on me, and the more I was intrigued by Little Baby’s Ice Cream and their whole company’s philosophy. I do think this is one of those ‘love it or hate it’ videos, but either way, these adverts are bound to make an impression.
In future, I may study more creepy ads to figure out how they work, but next Friday I’m switching back to Spooky Cinema with a lesser-known Hammer Horror production. See you then, and thanks for reading!