As far as I'm concerned, using horror to advertise product is always a good idea. Even if you're not a big fan of the genre, you can still appreciate the sentiment and creativity in a horror ad. The commercials are always funny, riffing on horror tropes. This list below is hard exhaustive, but includes some of my favourite ads as well as others that garnered a surprising amount of controversy.
Toyota caught a lot of flack for their zombie ads, which is unfortunate. The ads, which appeared in print and on TV, let consumers know that Toyotas are well equipped to deal with a zompocalypse. Outcry against the creative and horror-tastic ads forced Toyota to recall their campaign. Why? Because months earlier, a number of people died while driving their Toyotas.
In February 2010, Toyota recalled 4.5 million cars because of a possible faulty accelerator pedal. Prior to the recall, anywhere between five and thrity-five people were killed when their gas pedals got stuck and their cars accelerated out of control. This particular recall wasn't Toyota's first, as it has had to recall its cars for other accelerator pedal and break issues.
Back in 2000, Nike launched their "Why Sport?" campaign, which featured a horror-spoof TV ad.
The ad played on NBC during their Olympic broadcast but was quickly pulled due to an overwhelming amount of viewer complaints. At the heart of the issue was the perception that the ad promoted violence against women and/or it was too intense for television audiences.
I can't tell you when the Super Bowl became the most coveted advertising time-slot on television, but I'm pretty sure that it's only in the last 15 years or so that advertisers started bringing their A-game to the show. In February 2007, Bud Light, riding high on the success of it's Bud Light Institute campaign, let loose with its own horror parody ad. The commercial played a lot better than Nike's, and was easily the best ad that aired that night.
A less well-executed advert aired this past February, when Audi showed the world their own take on horror movie spoofs. Eschewing nostalgia for modern pop culture, Audi's commercial features hip young vampires. I have it on good authority from someone who works in advertising that the ad was a good idea but suffers from bad writing and production.
I'm unsure as to when this ad first aired, but I think it was around September 2008. You'd think it wouldn't have taken this long for a chainsaw manufacturer to jump on the horror-parody-television-commercial bandwagon, but whatever. The point is, Stilh mined TCM to advertise their Easy2Start line of chainsaws to great effect.
I think it was December 2005 when Direct TV brought together a bevy of horror villains to celebrate Christmas. Strangely, I can't find any information or commentary about this ad which is really weird given that Direct TV raised some eyebrows with their Poltergiest TV spot.
In 2011, British mobil phone provider Phones 4U aired a The Ring-inspired TV advert. Six hundred and one complaints later, the ad was brought before the Advertising Standards Agency. The commercial was eventually cleared, which is unsurprising given the ad was already approved of by Clearcast, an organization that clears advertisements for TV broadcast.