One of the traditions here in Curmudgeon Central is to wind up the year with a review of Bad Ads that have polluted the radio and/or TV airwaves during sports broadcasting. It would be impossible to try to memorize this compendium; the only way I can see to do it is to make a note of the Bad Ad as soon as I see it and then come back and collate them into something approaching a logical order during the Holiday Season. That practice puts a balance into this time of year; in addition to thinking about the joys of family and friends and the positive outlook one must have to ponder the idea of “New Year’s Resolutions”, recalling these Bad Ads from the past year reminds me that lots of things in this world are just plain stupid.
There were so many Bad Ads promulgated by cellular phone companies this year that I would not mind fining them significant amounts of money for the horse-bleep they have showered upon the public.
- Sprint must believe that its audience has the memory retention of a nematode. A year ago, they wanted us to switch to the Sprint network because the Sprint network was just as good as the Verizon network but at a lower price. Such a deal… Now this year, they continue to use the former Verizon pitchman, “Paul”, and this year he is telling us that the Sprint network is now twice as fast as it was, and it covers 30% more of the country. Either the 2018 ad campaign was faulty, or the 2019 ad campaign is exaggerated – – or both. I suspect it’s both.
- Verizon had an ad where two teenage girls were singing its praises because Verizon got them front row access to some goof’s concert. One of them effervesced that it was the most exciting thing of her life. Since you could not get me to a rock concert with a fishhook in my mouth, I am not sure how or why that is supposed to convince me to sign on with Verizon as my wireless carrier. Obviously, someone in their ad agency sees a connection I do not.
- Sprint added a blonde goof to the ads with “Paul” for reasons that I am sure make perfect sense in the world of advertising. “Paul” was the guy who made his mark by walking three steps and asking the person on the other end of his phone call, “Can you hear me now?”. He was walking around to test network coverage; yeah, right! Verizon must have ditched him, and he jumped ship to Sprint where he was merely smarmy. Now paired with this blonde goof of the female persuasion the two of them are stupid plus annoying.
Memo for the Sprint Ad Agency: Stupid and annoying is not the sort of Exacta you should be seeking in your advertising. No charge for that advice…
- Cricket Wireless has ads with fuzzy alien lifeforms that make loud and squeaky sounds as “communication”. The noises are most unpleasant; I would like to take the folks who thought up this ad campaign and the folks at Cricket who “green-lighted it” and lock them in a dark room for 72 hours with that sound track playing on a circular tape. And for the record, were I checking to see which wireless network I would prefer to use, I would be looking carefully to find one that does not have loud squeaky noises as part of the transmissions.
Exxon/Mobil has a new premium gas that supposedly makes your engine run two times cleaner than any other gasoline. If that were demonstrably evident to every Joe Sixpack who drives a gasoline engine vehicle, they could simply tell everyone that and be done with it. However, they feel that they need to convince people of the rectitude of their new product with a spokesthing who calls himself Mr. Supremium. Everything he does or has is supremium because it is twice as good as anyone else’s comparable item. Even his ascot wears an ascot. Every time I see that ad, the thought that runs through my mind is that must mean that his smelly armpit must have its own smelly armpit meaning his B. O. is also “supremium”.
Hanes underwear offered me the opportunity to acquire and collect Michael Jordan Trading Cards that were contained in “specially marked packages” of the undergarments. Trading cards for adults? Who in their right mind would run out and buy that stuff if they did not need underwear in the first place? C’est stupide? Wie dumm ist das den?
My notes do not reveal the brand involved here so I’ll just have to describe the ad generically. It is for Bladder Control Underwear. A woman trying to be very serious and very sincere reports that she has found bladder control underwear that “looks pretty”. She makes this declaration wearing her bra and these undies and the tone of her voice certainly conveys that she believes she has a real find here. This ad is nonsense on two levels:
- First, no one needs to see a woman who represents someone of an age that needs bladder control underwear in those underwear.
- Second, the product is not pretty; it is an adult diaper and it looks like an adult diaper. For the record, adult diapers have plenty of utilitarian value, but they are not pretty and this spokesthing is not about to change anyone’s mind on that score.
In December as folks were ramping up their Christmas shopping, Home Depot ran a radio ad. If there was a TV version of the same ad, I did not see it. The deal was simple and pretty interesting. If you bought a battery powered tool from some brand of tools you would get another battery powered tool from the same manufacturer of equal or lesser value free. No problem there; if you are shopping for a “Do-it-yourselfer”, this could be an important message. Here is the problem, the closing line for the ad was “Even Santa can’t beat that.” Folks, that is pure nonsense. Santa can certainly beat that because Santa would bring the first tool for free AND the second tool for free too. Santa does not leave invoices for presents left under the tree…
Smirnoff Vodka took the time and energy to have Ted Danson as their celebrity spokesthing inform me that the vodka was made from non-GMO grains. That is of exactly zero importance to me.
Reese’s peanut butter cup ads and ads for Reese’s Pieces always end with the voice over saying “Not sorry!” Glad to know that – – except I have no idea what they are “not sorry” about. If they are “not sorry” for providing a confusing advertisement, then they ought to be sorry.
Charmin toilet paper will simply not retire the “Charmin Bears”. I continue to wonder why Procter & Gamble continues to advertise toilet paper (everyone I know buys the stuff already) and why they do not dump those silly bears. Get it? Dump the bears that rhapsodize about toilet paper? Dump … toilet paper? Puh…leeez…
I need to do a diversion here because I never saw this ad personally. I got this as an email communication from a former colleague. It is an ad for Spam used to create a taco filling. The visual is a can of Spam with a short recipe for the taco filling and the caption is “Pork Favor”. So that there is no misunderstanding here, let me say this as clearly as I can:
- The idea of a Spam Taco is a culinary abomination in the sight of the Lord.
I need to channel the game of Monopoly to express what the person(s) that came up with the concept of a Spam taco should have to deal with. They should not pass Go; they should not collect $200 and they should immediately proceed to the Ninth Ring of Hell. [Hat tip to Dante Alighieri here…]
Rocket Loans has an ad where some goofy spokesthing gives pep talks about Rocket Loans to college football/basketball mascots. Seriously, if I were figuring out where to go to get a loan to buy a house and make that sort of humongous financial commitment, what would make anyone think that this stupid ad would influence my decision? That ad seems pitched to people whose IQ is in the range of the uniform number for a typical offensive lineman on a football team…
Four vehicle ads went high on the silliness scale this year:
- An ad for the Chevy Silverado tried to convince me that it was “a little bit of country and a little bit of rock and roll.” Even my long-suffering wife who is not exposed to lots of sports advertising asked what that has to do with a truck.
- An ad for one of the Mazda models tells me to “Feel alive!” when I drive this car. That should not be very difficult because I have no idea how to “Feel dead!”
- An ad for the Ford Explorer ends with the statement that it is “the greatest exploration vehicle ever.” Come on now; give me credit for having neurons close enough to play tennis with one another here.
- GMC trucks now have a new super-duper multi-functional tailgate on some of the models. My first reaction to seeing all that new functionality can be summed up in the phrase – – Whoop-di-damned-do! Then I noticed that the ad went even further along the axis of stupidity. The ad shows hundreds of people who have seemingly removed the tailgates from their trucks and are marching in unison to a hilltop where a GMC Truck with the advanced tailgate is parked. This ad begs a couple of questions. Would you really buy a truck based on the tailgate? Why are all those idiots carrying their tailgates to a hilltop?
Colonel Sanders and Mrs Butterworth pay a return visit to Bad Ads this year. The two “characters” are shown making out in an attempt to generate my interest in KFC Chicken and Waffles. Actually, the scene is frightening and disgusting to the point that I would rather choke down anything on the Taco Bell menu than eat those chicken and waffles. In fact, I will choose never to use either product again. <shudder>
Time out for a moment… The horror of the Col. Sanders/Mrs. Butterworth ad made me stop and think about a fundamental question created by the modern advertising culture.
- Given the characters created by ad companies and they way those characters are portrayed in a variety of situations, who is the grandest pervert of the group? The Burger King? Colonel Sanders? Ronald McDonald?
- That could be a three-way dead heat…
I have no idea which product these ads were promoting; that is how outrageous and annoying the ads were. But I can bring them to your attention by reminding you of the three words that a bunch of mouth breathers kept yelling throughout the ad:
- “Free … Phone … Football !”
A Bud Light ad is the only beer entry on the list this year. The medieval king who presides over the domain that toasts everything with “Dilly. Dilly!” decrees that everyone needs to know the ingredients in their beer. Ergo, Bud Light cases will have an ingredients list. Here’s the list: Water, Barley, Rice, Hops. Let’s see, water, grains, hops. No real surprises there. What the Hell else would anyone expect to be in his/her beer? Or is there some secret movement in the craft beer industry to include mule snot in some microbrews?
The following ad only showed up briefly late in the Christmas shopping season – thankfully. It begins with Johnny Depp driving out into the desert and burying his necklace in the sand and marking the place with some rocks. Then he looks agonizingly to the heavens and the blazing sun. This is an ad for a cologne called Sauvage by Christian Dior. If anyone ever asks you to give an example of disjointed logic, suggest that they watch this 30-second ad a couple of times.
I only saw this ad one time and failed to make a note about the brand it was hawking. It was so out of this world that I needed to jot down the ad concept and figured I would see it again and then make a note of the brand. Too bad. Anyway, the company that makes this mystery product actually paid money to produce an ad and then paid more money to put it on TV. The product provides “probiotics for dogs”. Since I saw it and noted it, that means they put the ad on a sportscast.
- Memo for The Record: Next time, try Animal Planet or maybe The Pet Channel?
There are an army of companies out there that claim to help people with debt problems. One of the things they say they can help with is if you “have been the victim of a predatory loan.” That sounds so sad – – but “victims” of a predatory loan are really “victims” of their own inability to understand the terms of the loan they just signed up for. I can’t get past the idea that these companies have identified an “unsophisticated segment of the population” that has already been “victimized” financially and are using ads like this to hook them again. It’s like fishing in a stocked pond.
Wells Fargo had a campaign to convince folks that the company offered a wide range of banking services. The overarching slogan for this campaign was “This is Wells Fargo.” The dumbest of the ads in the campaign goes like this:
- The beneficiaries of Wells Fargo’s services are a young couple who eat out at restaurants every night – – checking all the new hot culinary scenes. At some point, they “wonder” if their dining expenses are hindering their ability to save money to buy their first house (DUH!)
- So, they call Wells Fargo to have a guy in a call center tell them to eat at home more than once in a while. And the couple is ever so happy to get that insight from a financial professional.
The slogan for this campaign ought to be “This is Wells Fargo. We try to alleviate financial idiocy.”
In any compilation of this sort, there are always a few entries that soar to the top stratus of the universe. Three ads this year were outrageously stupid to the point that they vied for the stigma of Dumbest/Most Annoying Ad of the Year.
- Second Runner-Up: The plea made for car donations to Kars-4-Kids with that hugely annoying jingle which has been around so long I think it was composed by one of the Cro-Magnon people. Look, if you are going to put the ad on TV and have a bunch of kids lip sync the damned jingle, do enough takes so that at least one of them comes close to getting it right.
- First Runner-Up: The ads for My Pillow are stupid to the fourth power. I am sure the pillow inventor who hawks them in these ads is a nice man and has never engaged in anything but an altruistic search for a perfect pillow so all of us can get a good night’s sleep. Nevertheless, after I see one of those ads, I think to myself that maybe we ought to rethink our aversion to waterboarding.
And the winner of the Dumbest/Most Annoying Ad for 2019 is:
- LIMU the Emu – – and Doug. If you run across any of these ads, just sit back and try to come up with ten synonyms for “stupidity” as the ad is playing. I have never gotten beyond 8 – – and hope never to have to try to beat that record.
As 2019 fades into history, the appropriate way to end a rant of this sort is to look optimistically to the arrival of 2020 with the wish that things will necessarily get better next year. Here in Curmudgeon Central, that kind of feelgood thinking lasts about a minute because that kind of feelgood thinking has never worked in the past. I just know that I’ll be back here doing this again next year.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………