Bad Ads 2011

Watching lots of sports on TV is not exactly a tough way to spend one’s time; I do not want to make myself out to be some kind of martyr. There is one downside to that way of life however; it is a real downside and it is annoying. Watching lots of sports on TV exposes one to lots of bad advertisements. I know full well that advertising is what allows me to see these games on my TV set in the comfort of Curmudgeon Central. I am thankful that these folks have paid whatever fees they had to pay to put those ads on the set during the games I am watching. That thankfulness does not mean I have to enjoy the ads nor does it mean I have to think they are anything above stupid or annoying.

I keep a list during the year of bad ads. Here are some of the ones that bothered me this year…

Dominos Pizza produces ads that I consider serially annoying. As soon as one of their campaigns goes off the air, it seems that Dominos replaces it with one that is even worse. At what point will that end?

    1. Remember the ads where Dominos blacked out the windows on a limo so it could take a focus group to a farm to demonstrate that Dominos “uses real ingredients.” Ignoring the fact that Dominos could not possibly use ingredients that were not real, allow me to ask just how unaware that focus group might be regarding their surroundings. They are on a farm in a makeshift “conference room”. No farm in the history of agriculture smells like your typical “conference room” – - unless that “conference room” was in the building where they test new Taco Bell recipes.

    2. Remember the Dominos ad where they introduced their new slogan:

    “Oh Yes We Did!”

    Seriously, do those folks truly want to take full responsibility for those miserable pies?

    3. Remember the ads introducing the Dominos’ “Artisan” pizzas? Let me suggest the fundamental difference between a Dominos “Artisan” pizza and a normal run-of-the-mill Dominos pizza:

      The “Artisan” pizza tastes like the box it comes in flavored with fennel and goat cheese – - as opposed to- –

      The regular pizza, which tastes like the box it came in flavored with pepperoni.

Southwest Airlines also produces ads that are serially annoying. In fact, the Southwest Airlines ads actually make me want to check to see if I can book a flight to where I want to go on any airline other than Southwest Airlines.

    1. Remember the Southwest Airlines ads about cutting the red tape associated with frequent flier programs and how there was no red tape associated with Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program? What they failed to remind you of is this:

      The only way to get a “Rapid Reward” is to fly Southwest Airlines a lot meaning you will have plenty of uncomfortable journeys.

      If “Truth in Advertising” had any real meaning, Southwest Airlines would have to identify their aircraft as “Cattle Cars With Wings”.

    2. Remember the myriad Southwest airline ads that went on and on about how they do not charge bag fees or change fees? There are about a dozen of those bad boys out there. So, do you get the feeling that the only thing Southwest Airlines has to offer is a low price? Remember, you get what you pay for. The French playwright, Jean Anouilh put that another way:

    “What you get free costs too much.”

Earlier this year, two about-to-be-released movies had their trailers all over sporting events. Both The Rite and Sanctum flashed on the screen that those movies were “inspired by real events”. Time out.

    Can someone give me three examples of events that were not real?

VISA ran an ad earlier this year where you could win Super Bowl tickets for life by using your VISA card. To hype that, they tracked down four geezers who had been to every Super Bowl game since the mid-60s. In one of the ads, one of these goofs brags about how he has missed weddings and family births to go to Super Bowl games. That sounds to me like a recipe for family disharmony rather than an enticement to use my VISA card so I can win Super Bowl tickets for life. I hope one of the family births he missed turns out to be the person who decides when to pull the plug on that old geezer.

Miller Lite was fond of telling me that they added hops three times during the brewing process. Great! Now if you had added enough hops to the wort the first time, you could have saved yourself all that trouble…

You must have heard that

“Every kiss begins with Kay.”

Just a guess here but I suspect that at singles’ bars all over America on any weekend night, more kisses – - and the various other activities subsequent to those kisses – - begin with a pitcher of margaritas than a cheap pendant from Kay Jewelers.

There was a Lexus ad where five sedans hung suspended from a crane head-to tail; and then, another Lexus drove under that formation and parked there. That supposedly gave me confidence to own a Lexus because of the strength of the frame. Tell you what; the next time I find myself in need of parking in that sort of configuration, I will be sure to get a Lexus if my car has to be in the vertical alignment and I will be sure to park only under suspended Lexuses. Until then…

One other annoyance from Lexus has to do with the “December to Remember” ads. Yes, they have become annoying into and of themselves; but here is the icing on that cupcake:

    Why are “December to Remember” ads on TV on November 15th?

There is a Mercedes ad where people tell you about the time they fell asleep at the wheel but their Mercedes sensed they had done that and woke them up. Somehow, I think that is not a message Mercedes wants to convey. If drivers of Mercedes think so cavalierly about safety that they fall asleep at the wheel with the idea that the car will “take care of it”, that cannot do anything but erode brand loyalty because the car is not always going to “take care of it”. Think reduced numbers of repeat customers here…

Of course Audi – - as an entrant in the luxury car market – - found the need to match the silliness of the Lexus and Mercedes ads. So, the created one where an obviously wealthy young man arrives at his obviously wealthy parents’ home driving his Audi. He enters the home laden with bags of Christmas gifts only to hear his car starting and driving off into the snow. The “father” then smugly turns to the “mother” and assures her that the kid will be all right. And the message here is what…? If I buy an Audi my parents will steal it from me? Pardon me while I shop elsewhere…

While I am in the area of car ads, there is an ad for the Honda Civic featuring a masked woman driving around while someone is singing, “I’m a Ninja.” Really? Ninjas were masters of covert warfare in Japan and legend has it that some could walk on water. So, now I am supposed to believe that if a ninja actually materialized, he/she would choose to drive a Honda Civic. Really?

There was an ad for AT&T mobile phones that had orange flowers on a vine growing over buildings and city structures. The ad was supposed to symbolize the all-encompassing AT&T mobile network. Not to me. All I could think was that it was going to take a hell of a lot of Round-Up to kill all those damned weeds…

There is an ad for Subway where they dub squeaky children’s voices into adult actors’ bodies and the theme of all those ads is that some of the squeaky voices are trying to coax the one squeaky voice that has a Subway sandwich to give them the sandwich. How is that supposed to motivate me to buy a Subway sandwich? The message is that if I buy one of those things, I will become the target of annoying people who will not let me eat in peace because they want my sandwich. However, if I just pack my own lunch, I could just enjoy my lunch. Hmmm…

There is an ad for where some guy faces directly into the camera and says with sincerity and conviction:

“There’s nothing worse than going to the Post Office and standing in line.”

Seriously, that is what he said. Hey pal, tell that to some refugee in Darfur. Perchance, one of the survivors of the Bataan Death March might take exception that your horrible plight in the line at the Post Office is the worst thing that could befall humankind.

There are a couple of ads for Geico where Brian Orakpo and the Caveman interact. What that has to do with my selection of an insurance company remains TBD, but I have one other quibble with these ads. Brian Orakpo is a good young linebacker in the NFL. However, with regard to “on-camera presence” and “personal magnetism”, he is roughly equivalent to Mr. Rogers. Oh, and remember that Mr. Rogers is dead…

Since I mentioned the Geico ads, there are some other insurance company ads that are simply off-putting. Rather than enticing me to find out more about their products and services, these make me want to look elsewhere. High on the annoyance meter are the ads for “The General” and his car insurance. I understand perfectly that “The General” is only an animated character. But he is drawn to look and act like an octogenarian who goes to Hooters just to ogle the waitresses there and think creepy thoughts. He is NOT an attractive “face of the franchise”.

Even worse is the ad for a health insurance company – - did not write down its name and have no interest in searching to find it out – - that tries to get you to call them by telling you that before they became the provider of choice for some poor schlep, he had to re-use his catheters. This ad should have been required at that point to flash “TMI Alert!” all over the screen in large font and in international orange. Now, tell the truth, are you motivated to go search to find out which insurance company this was so you might do business with them.

The idea of requiring “TMI Alert!” on ads is something that needs serious consideration by the FCC. Consider these ads and your expressions of TMI as they proceed:

    1. Triphoria is a vibrating dildo made by the folks who make Trojan condoms. Yes, they have ads on television. In one of those ads a bride-to-be gets a handful of them as gifts at her bridal shower and she shares her joy at that bounty with her betrothed. He is just thrilled to see these little bad boys in her hands. Have you shouted “TMI” yet…”?

    2. There is a late-night infomercial for a product called Colon Flow. [No, you are not allowed to yell “TMI” just yet; there will be time for that later on.] This infomercial tells you over and over that if you are not “evacuating routinely” you are carrying around pounds and pounds of “unhealthy toxic waste”. There is an animated insert in the infomercial where something approximately half the length of the colon (about 3 feet for most folks) “steps out on its own” so to speak – - with the help of Colon Flow. You may now yell, “TMI”… Or, maybe you need this added information. Colon Flow recommends at least two and preferably three such evacuations per day. Arrrgh…!

By the way, I happened to read about a study that was released earlier this year which concluded that colon cleansers were “ineffective”. Right there you can see the problem with people who write up scientific studies; they do not put things in terms people will understand immediately. That study should have said:

Colon cleansers don’t work for sh*t! is a website that tracks down all the public record information available on individuals; it is a security service of sorts. One of the ads for this company features a pregnant woman patting her abdominal protrusion and saying that no one comes near her family unless they have been verified. Oh puhleeez…

    Memo to Future-Mom:

      What about your mailman?

      What about the EMTs who come after you dial 911 when your future-kid has hurt itself? Are you going to collect their IDs and head for the website?

    Just shut up…

How about the ad where a couple of guys climb into a shark cage to shave. Sharks are attracted to blood and these guys are down there shaving in a cage showing me how safe that particular Gillette razor is. Tell you what; the very next time I feel the need to strap on a scuba tank to take an underwater shave in a shark cage, I will be certain to purchase a Gillette Whatever Razor. Until then…

There is an ESPN ad for its phone app where a bearded cowboy watches a variety of ESPN programs on a bandolier full of cell phones. That image alone is stupid enough to merit a mention in this diatribe but it gets even worse. At the end of the ad, the guy exults in his good fortune by firing his gun into the air. That is an image that I see when mercenaries/revolutionaries/armies have seized control of villages or territories and they fire weapons indiscriminately in the air. I cannot imagine why ESPN seeks to invoke that image…

Of course, there is the ad for Best Buy where the woman sees the wide variety of electronic toys/gadgets available at Best Buy and decides to “take on Santa”. When she confronts him in her house on Christmas Eve, she mocks Santa based on her purchases. Surely, that is the kind of person all of us should seek to become; the world needs more people who derive a measure of self-esteem from confronting and mocking Santa Claus.

What I would like to see is a sequel to that ad for Christmas morning when that woman is strutting around her house in front of all the people she bought gadgets for saying that she knows all she got was a lump of coal in her stocking. After all, she got the best of Santa Claus… Then when she takes the stocking down from the mantle to check it out, she finds a box of Colon Flow tablets and a strange substance…

Finally, the bombardment of ads for “Black Friday” that dominate the airwaves for the two weeks prior to Thanksgiving are really counter-productive. The depictions of folks out shopping in the malls on Black Friday are hardly attractive; some of the behaviors shown would get a real person arrested or would motivate family members to conduct an intervention if they happened in real life. And that is supposed to entice me to go out to a local mall and surround myself with maniacs of that stripe? After watching the ads exhorting me to get to Black Friday sales as soon as possible, may I say that the only way to get me to a mall on that day would be at gunpoint.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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  • Ed  On December 27, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    My ideas on those ads:

    Miller Lite: Too many cooks spoil the broth, too much tinkering spoils the beer, or whatever that vile liquid you sell purports to be.

    Mercedes: Our customers are so self-obscessed they cannot lower themselves to pay attention to the road. We must save them from themselves.

    Honda: Ninjas are masters of stealth. They always blend in. “Buy a Civic and no one will ever notice you again!”

    Subway: Our sandwiches are made with helium! Eat one and your voice will never be the same again!

    The General: I am glad to see Commander Mc Bragg from Tennessee Tuxedo working again after 40 years of unemployment.

    Best Buy: Let her just fall off the roof, already. Push her, Santa. It’ll look like an accident…

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On December 28, 2011 at 11:18 am


    Had not thought of your interpretation of the Honda Civic ads but I like your thinking there.

    AND a Tennessee Tuxedo reference! Kudos…

  • Haley  On December 31, 2011 at 8:01 am

    That was Medical Direct Club, Curmy, and if you ask them nicely they’ll send you a free catheter sample. A+ to the other commenter’s Commander McBragg reference, too. Must be hell for an old guy like The General to be walking around with a mustache that weighs a good five or six pounds. Maybe he waxes it with… well, that explains the penguin.

    Oh, you might want to check to see whether or not the Milwaukee Bucks are still an NBA franchise.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On January 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm


    Welcome aboard.

    Fortunately, I currently have no need for any free samples of catheters and would fervently hope that condition would continue to obtain for many years.

    The Milwaukee Bucks are indeed still a franchise in the NBA. Whether or not that is important to NBA fans more than 200 miles away from Milwaukee remains open to question, but the Bucks do indeed continue to exist…

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