Advertisement for The Nun Sparks Controversy

Do you like jump scares?

By L.B. Lubomski

If you used YouTube at all within the last few days, there's a solid chance you may have seen a short little advertisement for The Nun, the fifth installment of The Conjuring film franchise set for a theatrical release next month on September 7th.

The ad, which can be viewed above, starts with the illusion that the volume on the viewers device is being lowered, prompting them to take notice and likely adjust their own volume. Suddenly, the viewer is treated to a jump scare from the nun herself, who flashes onto the screen with a blood-curdling scream.

Many upset consumers took to Twitter to express their disdain for this advertisement, especially since it appears to have played on regular, non-horror content across the platform. This quickly caught the attention of YouTube, who removed the ad entirely citing a violation of their shocking content policy.

By diving a bit more into that content policy, we can see where The Nun's advertisement may have run afoul. At its core, the ad technically should have never been released in the first place, since the intent was to purposely shock and scare.

We value diversity and respect for others, and we strive to avoid offending or shocking users with ads, websites, or apps that are inappropriate for our ad network.

Here are some examples of content that we consider or may be violent or shocking:

  • Profane language
  • Violent language
  • Discriminatory terms or imagery
  • Gruesome imagery
  • Graphic images or accounts of physical trauma
  • Gratuitous bodily fluids or waste
  • Promotions that are likely to shock or scare
  • Promotions that are capitalizing on sensitive events

What we consider as shocking factors in video ads:

  • Whether the video shows scenes containing violent and/or graphic imagery that can be shocking or disturbing to viewers (e.g, Showing blood splatter, sexual fluids, human or animal waste)
  • Whether the video shows the graphic aftermath of a violent act
  • Whether the shots of violence or gore are the focal point of the scene in the video
  • Whether the violence contained in the video is realistic when posted in a dramatic context
  • Other factors include the camera angle and focus, and the clarity of the images in the video

For hardcore horror fans such as those who may be reading this article, this ad for The Nun is unlikely to elicit much of a reaction, as we are desensitized and used to this kind of content. However, when an unskippable jump scare is forced on users who do not like horror, possibly including children, the elderly, or those with medical conditions, it is easy to see why so many people were upset.

That being said, the advertising firm behind The Nun probably knew exactly what they were doing, utilizing the old saying that "there is no such thing as bad publicity." This event has surely only generated more buzz for the film, although whether this will translate to box office success remains to be seen.

Who would have thought a roughly 6-second YouTube advertisement could cause so much trouble?

About the Author

L.B. Lubomski

Lawrence "L.B." Lubomski is an avid horror movie fan, gamer, musician, historian, and aspiring author. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, L.B. was exposed to the works of local filmmaker and godfather of zombie cinema George A. Romero early on. He has since developed a particular fondness for Italian zombie/cannibal and slasher films. This passion for horror extends into other media, from survival horror video games such as Resident Evil to horror-inspired musical artists. In his spare time, L.B. pursues many interests including building his collection of vinyl records, action figures, and vintage video games as well as drumming in various local bands.

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