Netflix’s Ads for Santa Clarita Diet Are Good Gross Fun, but One Went a Little Too Far

Severed fingers billboard is pulled in Germany

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Netflix has been making viewers do a double-take with its Santa Clarita Diet ads since the Golden Globe Awards, when Drew Barrymore’s cannibalistic take on weight-loss commercials was a disturbing standout among the TV commercials on that night’s broadcast.

The digital and out-of-home ads have been fun, too, featuring various body parts dressed up as food dishes. You have your heart burger (headline: “Eat your heart out”), your french-fry container stuffed with fingers (“Finger food”) and your forearm burrito (“Grab and go”), along with a few other executions.

But one regionally tailored billboard for the German market made some passersby queasy, and has reportedly been pulled—an ad featuring a human finger sliced up and seasoned like a currywurst dish.

A Netflix spokeswoman confirmed to the Berliner Tagesspiegel that people had complained about the billboard being “disgusting” and “anxiety-inducing,” and particularly disturbing to children and adolescents.

Netflix went so far as to set up currywurst food trucks, Tagesspiegel said, though the campaign was halted after more than 50 complaints poured in.

Los Angeles agency And Company created many of the ads for the campaign, as you can see on its website. It’s not clear if the agency did the sliced-fingers ad. A call to the agency on Tuesday afternoon was not immediately returned.

“For Netflix’s new zombie comedy, we were tasked with creating a campaign that introduced the show to viewers with just the right balance of fun and gore,” the agency says. “We created ads that parody advertising from popular fast food restaurants with a zombie twist. The ads were featured on billboards, transit shelters, and social media. Lenticular posters were created for outdoor applications, showing the normal food turning into the zombie version of the food.” The agency said it did create overseas ads featuring particular regional dishes for Singapore, Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina—but did not mention Germany.

Santa Clarita Diet launched Feb. 3 on Netflix. See five of the core U.S. ads for the series here:

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@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.