BySarah O'Connell, writer at

Forget violence, graphic sex and bad language, the British Advertising Standards Authority, an agency that normally deals with public complaints regarding material that is "dishonest or sexist, obscene or harmful" are dealing with an increase in complaints by viewers petrified by clowns!

Recent years have gifted us with horror movies and TV shows that feature terrifying jesters, and with that a rise in public coulrophobia, an irrational fear of clowns.

And that's not all, according to Express, our thin skinned populace have been complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority about ads featuring snakes, spiders and sharks, birds or bees, flying, vomiting, needles and even ‘holes in irregular patterns’ also known as trypophobia.

I was going to insert an image of trypophobia, but the google images grossed me out so much that I couldn't bring myself to do it. You'll have to venture there on your own - I'll stay here and think happy thoughts.

Happy Happy Happy
Happy Happy Happy

Unfortunately the ASA do not consider personal phobias to be objectionable or harmful material and so the presence of a scary clown, or anything else that is personally terrifying for you, is probably not enough to get the ad pulled.

A representative from the ASA explains:

"While phobias are very real to those who suffer from them, it would be fair to say almost any theme or imagery in an ad has the potential to cause a phobic reaction in some. As such and due to the very individual nature of phobias, it is impossible to take all of these into account when creating ads. Bearing this in mind, the ASA is very unlikely to uphold against ads solely on the basis that there’s a snake, spider or clown featured in them."

'American Horror Story' - Top Offender!

The American Horror Story franchise is no stranger to scaring us by any twisted means possible and has definitely been contributing to the publics fear of clowns in recent years by conceiving several horrifying additions to our clown filled nightmares.

The teaser for American Horror Story: Freak Show was hair-raising and awful and tear-inducing:

Lets not forget Twisty the (terrifying) clown. The scariest thing that ever haunted our nightmares ever.

And then of course there was the scary naked stop-motion clown thing with the boot-wearing leg penis in the The American Horror Story: Freak Show opening credits.

Thanks American Horror Story. Thanks.


The recent remake of the 1982 classic horror Poltergeist caused quite a stir when an ad featuring a rather ominous looking toy clown was released to promote the movie.

Over 70 coulrophobics and parents in Britain submitted complaints about the sinister clown poster to no avail - the ASA responded with:

“We noted that the ad had a dark format and the image of the clown stared out from the poster and had a scruffy appearance.

However, we considered the image was not menacing and noted the ad included no other images that were likely to contribute to such an impression."

Clown Poster Banned At Theme Park For Being TOO Scary

One notable instance when public clown fear prevailed was in October 2015 when the ASA removed a theme park poster in Norfolk after amusement park goers made formal complaints.

The poster read "screaming won't help!" and featured an image of a clown with bright red eyes, stitches and a cut-open mouth. Suffice to say, it scared the bejesus out of kids.

The ASA noted that a number of the complainants had reported their children becoming very distressed on seeing the image.

The ASA reported:

“We noted that the clown was leaning towards the camera and grinning with a menacing expression, that its eyes glowed red and blood dripped down its face, and that its eyes and forehead were stitched.
We considered the ad was likely to cause fear or distress without justifiable reason."

Were Clowns ever not horrifying?

It seems that clowns have been scaring the crap out people ever since someone decided that painting your face white and adding a red nose would be a hoot.

Unfortunately until the entire human race stand together and banish clowns from existence, they will continue to grace our screens and terrify millions.

Sources: UPROXX, The Guardian, Cinema Blend.


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