Bad Ads 2021

In the final days of the year, many folks take a moment to reflect on the events of the past year and consider changes in their lives to make next year better than the previous one.  Here in Curmudgeon Central, there is a variant on that sort of retrospection.

A lot of time here is spent watching sporting events on television; as a consequence of that behavior, lots of ads for various products and services are foisted upon my person.  A few are humorous/entertaining; many are tolerable; and some are downright BAD.  At the end of each year, I take time to look back on the really Bad Ads from last year and naively hope that next year’s crop of ads will not contain as many bad ones as the past year did.  But of course, that hope never materializes in the New Year…

To set the tone here, allow me to begin with an observation from George Orwell”

“Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.”

Who am I to argue with George Orwell…?

If  you ever try to read the fine print contained in the latter parts of a TV ad or try to understand the sped-up speech at the conclusion of a radio ad, you may never have gotten through the process in real time.  Therefore, let me give you a generic summary of any and all of them that you can keep in mind the next time you see or hear this sort of thing:

  • “Whatever you just saw/heard about the product or service represented in this advertisement is not nearly as beneficial for you as the ad may have led you to believe the product or service is.  Since that is the case, these disclaimers are here for our protection lest you try to sue us for a jillion dollars at some point down the road.”

There are companies that run dumb ad campaigns, and you can count on them every year as much as you can count on death and/or taxes.  Old Navy will always produce an ad around Holiday Time showing people clumsily dancing around in clothing that no one should be seen wearing in public; they did it again this year.  Lexus will do an ad with their cars having a large red ribbon on the roof sitting in a driveway; they did it again this year.  Mercedes Benz will try to convince you that Santa uses their vehicles to deliver presents to kids; they did it again this year.  However, all the “Bad Ads” were not in the “old reliable category”; this year we had some new nonsense added to the soup.

Have you noticed that just about everything you might consume as a dietary supplement these days comes in the form of “gummies”?  A friend pointed it out and I started noticing that you can have a laxative gummy and hair/skin supplement gummies; and an ashwagandha gummy to relieve stress.  I asked my friend what ashwagandha is and his response was that he did not know but thought it might just mean that it tastes like ass.  Good enough for me…

Speaking of foul-tasting things, Power Ade started putting numbers on their bottles because they say, “There’s power in numbers.”  I would be more highly motivated to buy Power Ade if they made that swill taste better.  Hmmm…  Are they adding ashwagandha?

Mike’s Hard Lemonade announces on each can that it is “gluten free.”  If anyone who has an actual gluten allergy needs to be told that a liquid concoction containing seltzer water, lemonade and alcohol does not have gluten, then that moron is doomed to many bouts of digestive system distress.

A competitor in this product space had an equally stupid ad campaign.  Bud Light Seltzer figured out that the Bud Light logo/name made people think it was beer, so they hired Nick Mangold to “block it out”.  Two questions here:

  1. If you think it needs to be “blocked out” perhaps you should redesign and relabel the brand?
  2. Do you think the people who created this ad and the people who accepted it to market their product were blockheads?

In case you were wondering, the answer to both queries above is “YES!”

  • [Aside:  This is not exactly an ”ad” but I have a dictionary app on my phone and the app needs to be updated about twice a month.  Are there that many new words being added to the English language?]

There was an ad for Behr paint where the folks removed all the furniture from their house because it might detract from one’s view of the color of their paint job.  I have an important message here for the execs at Behr paint who green-lighted this ad:

  • The people in this ad are buttholes; if they are your spokesthings, I will definitely look elsewhere for my paint simply because I prefer not to become a butthole.

Mattress First tried to tell me that all my problems were due to “Junk Sleep”  Whatever that is supposedly explains why some doofus left his laptop on the bus – – actually on top of the bus as portrayed in the ad.  And that is supposed to convince me that folks who work for Mattress First will give me sound advice on which mattress to buy…  Seriously?

DirecTV Streaming has ads with Serena Williams wherein she morphs with movie characters to do nonsensical things like fight off malicious tennis ball shooting robots and or play tennis against 10 opponents in “The Matrix”.  How is that supposed to get me to want to subscribe; all I would want to do is watch Serena Williams play real tennis.

Subway has an ad where Tom Brady makes a cameo appearance.  Given all I have read about Brady’s fanatic focus on his diet and nutrition, I somehow doubt that I might spot him and/or Giselle in line waiting for a 12-inch tuna sub there.

There is an ad for Applebee’s encouraging folks to use this restaurant as a date-night destination. So, I must conclude that Applebee’s has identified a target audience comprised of  eleventh graders whose dates do not like pizza?

Chipotle informs me that they make “real food” using “real ingredients” in their “real kitchens”.  Actually, I would be more impressed if they managed to make tasty food that was good for you out of imaginary ingredients in kitchens that only exist in the seventh dimension.

I will just leave you with these words and you will know immediately which advertising ne’er-do-well I am referring to:

  • “We have the meats!”

Now just to be sure there is no misunderstanding, I do not care what the ad says, but there are thousands of people and places that “Out Pizza the Hut” on a daily basis.

If I counted correctly, there are 22 potential side effects to watch out for if you take the drug, Keytruda.  And after that litany, the screen says that these are not all the possible side effects.  That leaves me to imagine if it is possible that taking Keytruda might cause me to develop a second set of nostrils in the middle of my forehead…

To prove that I am not the only person who finds some ads so stupid that they need to be called out, here is a Tweet from humorist and social critic, Brad Dickson:

“It’s probably not PC to say but the commercial for the Hug Project where Cox mails you some kind of vest that you hug while Facetiming to simulate actual touch has to be the stupidest thing ever. It’s pet rock level dumb.”

Premium Plus adult diapers claim a nighttime advantage over other brands.  Premium Plus absorbs 6 cups of liquid as opposed to others that do not absorb 4 cups of liquid.  Excuse me, but if you are passing more than 4 cups of liquid at night – – 4 cups is often called a “quart” – – you may have a more serious medical condition than simply bed-wetting…

Coors Light declares itself as the official beer of no longer wearing a bra.  A woman takes a beer out of the fridge and then removes her bra without removing her top and tosses it aside.  Whatever…

Modelo tries to convince me that some guy had “fighting spirit” and that is what got him to achieve his status as a tattoo artist and graffiti creator.  I seek neither status, so I have no reason to want to try your beer that is somehow associated with that guy.

Subaru had a series of ads wherein dogs were “driving” Subaru vehicles around in various environments.  Those ads went far beyond the level of stupid/obtuse and approached the level of ludicrous/thick-headed…

The GMC Denali has a driver assisted mode that takes over driving the vehicle.  So, what does the ad for this feature show the driver and passengers doing with their now abundant “free time”?  They are rhythmically clapping to “We Will Rock You”.  At least the driver of the vehicle is not a dog…

Lincoln had an ad where a guy drives home and finds his property covered in snow from a snow-making machine on his roof.  He lives in a desert setting with palm trees.  So, the message I take away here is that if you buy a Lincoln Aviator – – which is a gas-guzzler – – it is expected that you will adopt those habits and perform environmental disasters in all walks of your life.  Sign me up…

Let me interrupt this litany to ask a simple question:

  • If Red Bull gives you wings, how come I never see anyone with wings flying around overhead?

Liberty Mutual has not completely weaned itself from Limu Emu and Doug; based on some of the new “characters” they have tried to introduce, maybe that is not all bad.  The dumbest one was the guy standing in front of the Statue of Liberty dressed up as a cell phone that is set to vibrate which makes him gyrate as if afflicted by St. Vitus Dance.  Only thing it made me wonder was if  he fell into the water behind him would the phone short out and electrocute him.  I was hoping…

Progressive insurance shows exactly no interest in moving on from Flo and her colleagues who have achieved stratospheric levels of annoyance.  I can say categorically to the folks at Progressive that if I never again hear or see anything about “Flotection” it will be three weeks too soon…

When something – anything – is advertised as “new and improved”, it can only mean that the product sold previously under that label was not good enough.  And then, you need to recall that the previous not-good-enough product was advertised as being something you did not want to live your life without.  So, now you are supposed to take seriously the ads for the new and improved product…

Experian’s “BOOOST” ad with some dude and his pet cow riding a roller coaster that gets stuck upside down is about as stupid as can be.

There is an ad for the laxative Colace that I just saw for the first time last week.  The ”slogan” at the end of the ad is, “#2 should be easy to do.”   Color me disgusted…  And if anyone even suggests putting this ad in juxtaposition with the Charmin Toilet Paper bears, they should be consigned to Dante’s Seventh Level of Hell.

It took Verizon about 15 years to come up with a recurring ad character more annoying than the “Can-You-Hear-Me-Now” Guy.  However, they achieved that feat this year with the new lady pitchperson who was all dressed in red for the Holiday ads.  The  poor woman must have some sort of physical deformity because she looks as if she has a baseball bat up her butt when she walks.

Not to be outdone, T-Mobile has introduced a cast of characters in their ads who exhibit enthusiastic idiocy – – as if that is some sort of ideal state of mind…

I saved for last some ads and comments on the ad campaign for USAA.  I am not a mind-reader, but some of the decisions made by various folks involved in this ad campaign make me wonder:

  • USAA is for the military community and their families.  I am not part of the “military community”, but I would certainly think that anyone who is in the service or who has been in the service knows of USAA’s existence; so, informing them of the existence of USAA as something for them seems pointless.  Moreover, telling me about USAA is equally pointless since I cannot join even if I wanted to.  So, why spend the money to produce and air those ads?
  • Rob Gronkowski appears in a couple of ads for USAA where he tries to “sign up” even though he is ineligible.  Were he to be successful in his endeavors – he is not – he would be in a position where he could be charged with fraudulently obtaining benefits from the government and that is a felony.  So, my question here is very simple.  Who convinced “Gronk” that this was a good way to “advance his brand”?
  • In one specific USAA ad, a member named “Martin” is happy to get rapid response and service from USAA after his home and his truck were damaged in a hailstorm.  That is a good message until you look at the scene portrayed in the ad and notice that the truck was damaged because it was parked outside the garage attached to “Martin’s” house.  Ergo, “Martin” is a moron for not putting his truck in the garage when a hailstorm was on its way…

All these horrid ads infested the airwaves this year leaving me to wonder why the Budweiser Clydesdales have been sent to Elba.  I guess those ads are considered too high class these days.  Sigh…

I began today with an observation about advertising by George Orwell.  Let me close with another observation, this time by author Stephen Leacock:

  • “Advertising may be described as the science of arresting human intelligence long enough to get money from it.”

Happy New Year to all.  The past two years have been overly “eventful”; my wish for 2022 is for it to feature a modicum of “tranquility” with a side order of better advertising on my sporting events.

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