Previous “Bad Ads” posts

I Suppose Cars Might Be a Decent Source of Iron

Still, they'd probably be better off with a decent multi-vitamin.

In and around Detroit, an organization named “Mother Waddles” advertises their car donation program heavily.1 Through this program, one can donate a vehicle that’s no longer needed to Mother Waddles, and receive a tax deduction in return. Mother Waddles will then sell or scrap the vehicle and use the proceeds to help those most in need.

That’s a fine idea. However, I found the billboards they use to be somewhat problematic.

A billboard that reads “Donate a car, provide shelter”, with a photograph of a man holding a sign that reads “Homeless”.

Particularly because of the included photograph, I can’t help but interpret this as stating “We’re going to give your donated car to the homeless, who will use it as shelter”. That’s a terrible way to read it, and it would likewise be a terrible plan. Nevertheless, I saw this billboard frequently on a recent trip through the Motor City, and each time that was the thought which came to mind.

As such, you can imagine how taken aback I was when I spotted this alternate version:

A billboard that reads “Donate a car, feed the hungry”, with a man eating something

Even beggars can be, and should be, choosier than that.


  1. The organization’s namesake, Charleszetta “Mother” Waddles, seems to have been a tremendous force for good in the world.

    For over four decades, the Reverend Charleszetta Waddles, affectionately known as “Mother Waddles,” devoted her life to providing food, hope, and human dignity to the downtrodden and disadvantaged people of Detroit. Founder, director, and spiritual leader of the Mother Waddles Perpetual Mission, Inc., a nonprofit, nondenominational organization run by volunteers and dependent on private donations, Waddles believed that the church must move beyond religious dogma to focus on the real needs of real people.

    Nevertheless, her name is rather comical. ↩︎

We’re Already Giving You Money 

When do we talk about removing ads from places?

Buying a subway ticket really, really shouldn’t require you to sit through an ad.

The Worcester Bravehearts Should Listen To Jimmy Dugan

There are STDs in baseball.

This is a very, very bad slogan.

Billboard for a local baseball team announcing 'The clap is back!'

However, the prevalence of STDs on college campuses coupled with the fact that this is a collegiate league means it’s probably also true.

Drive to the Sweet Spot 

Matthew McConaughey's Lincoln ads are bad. These versions are at least amusing.

This post about AI-written spoof ads is from last May, but because the goofy Matthew McConaughey Lincoln ads have continued unabated, it remains relevant.1


  1. A copy of the embedded video is archived here. ↩︎

Freedom! Horrible, Horrible Freedom!


For the 2018 holiday season, Macy’s created an ad called “Space Station”, featuring an astronaut in space who’s missing both her daughter and Christmas.1 The astronaut video chats to stay in touch with her family. Her doleful daughter asks if she’ll be home for Christmas, but alas, she will not. The mother does have a cardboard snowman named “Sunny” her daughter likely made to take up with her.

This ad was featured prominently during the Thanksgiving Day parade, which included a new floating balloon for “Sunny the Snowpal”2.

Sunny in real life

While I’m sure it was expensive to produce, it is also a very bad ad. When Christmas arrives and the astronaut is still up in space, her family video calls her. On the call, her daughter instructs her to get Sunny and “open it, open it, open it”. That’s perturbing, but she gamely rips open the poor snowpal’s guts, and plucks out a snow globe. Alright, I guess. The bigger problem is this:

Houston, we’re about to have hundreds of small problems.

Apparently, the snow globe was surrounded by tiny styrofoam pellets, which are now floating in the space station’s microgravity. In the ad, the astronaut cheerily feels like she’s enjoying snow. In reality, that would simply have to cause some issues, in the same way that crumbs would:

Koren: Which foods are the most difficult to prepare for space?

Kloeris: Anything that creates a lot of crumbs. Crumbs are very difficult to deal with in microgravity because they’re just messy. When they get loose, they can make it into the air filtration system. You have to find a way to clean them up, and that usually involves a vacuum cleaner.

But hey, maybe Macy’s can make a Gravity inspired follow-up, where the mother comes crashing back to Earth and ultimately reunites with her daughter just in time for Thanksgiving 2019.


  1. As always, the relevant video is archived here.↩︎

  2. Here’s what the Macy’s parade web site lists as a “Fun Fact” about the balloon: “Sunny is an original character created for Macy’s 2018 holiday campaign”. Gosh, that is fun. ↩︎

Not-So-Massive Verbal Persuasion 

During the Super Bowl, RAM trucks aired an ad featuring a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. There was heavy criticism for the attempt at using King’s words in an effort to sell trucks, but apparently, it’s even worse than it originally seemed.

What’s even worse, King was an outspoken critic of capitalism—and actually decried car advertisers later in the very same speech used in the commercial.

Yikes, indeed.

One Singular Days

Come on, Macy’s!

One Day Sale, Friday December 29th through Saturday, December 30th

I’ve seen this nonsense before, but the extra day has always been referred to as a “preview day”. That’s idiotic, but it’s not as bad as this.

One Day Sale, Friday December 29th through Saturday, December 30th

I’m so rationally angry right now.

Previously in things being right in the name: It’s Right in the Name

Lettuce Reflect

I recently spotted a billboard around Boston which was apparently advertising, well, leafy greens. I was driving on the highway when I first saw it, so I couldn’t snap a picture, but it later popped up within walking distance of my home. I made sure to grab a photo, so that you too could see Foxy’s “House of Chards” billboard:

A billboard from Foxy Organic, showing a picture of chard, with a 'House of Chards' logo.

Many readers will understand that this is a rather bizarre spoof of the Netflix series “House of Cards”. The otherwise-clumsy “Vegflix” logo on the right side really drives the idea home. Here’s a comparison shot from the actual television series, with Kevin Spacey looking none too pleased at being parodied:

“Foxy did what?!”

Setting aside the sheer pointlessness of advertising chard, I’m left to wonder why on earth Foxy would wish to associate themselves with the only show that makes the Trump presidency seem halfway palatable. I’ve found myself with no desire to watch the newest season of “House of Cards”, because I feel like I’m living it every single goddamned day. The biggest difference is that reality is even more vindictive, and also far stupider. Why would a produce company make this ad? The wordplay involved really isn’t that good, if it’s even good at all.

The ad’s biggest fault, however, is a bit more subtle. It hews closer to the original than might be advisable. You see, the official “House of Cards” logo contains a simplified inverted American flag, a subtle nod to the distress the fictionalized America faces due to the machinations of Frank Underwood. The spoof “House of Chards” logo replicates this. Without this imagery, the imitation might not be successful. With it, however, the billboard is sending a very dire message indeed.

A simplified upside down American flag

Then again, perhaps it’s an intentional cry for help.

Bad Ads: Clickbait

If you’ve spent any time on this here web without an ad blocker, you’ve undoubtedly seen some lousy advertising. While reading a tech site which shall remain unnamed, I was recently stunned by the tremendously low quality of the following ad block:

Let’s take a look at each of the parts of this triptych of terrible.

The first block shows a photograph of actress Rebel Wilson on the left, and a caption proclaiming that she’s lost a tremendous amount of weight. While a quick search indicates Ms. Wilson may indeed have slimmed down some, the photo on the right is simply a disturbingly photoshopped version of Ms. Wilson. Classy!

The second block again shows two photos. On the left is actress Laura Dern in perhaps her most famous role, as khaki shorts-wearing, Triceratops poop-sifting Dr. Ellie Sattler from the movie “Jurassic Park”. On the right is what looks to be a mugshot of some sort. While it’s plausible that this could be Ms. Dern in some sad fall from grace, that’s not the reality. In fact, this is simply some other poor woman entirely. Since her part in the blockbuster hit of 1993, Ms. Dern’s career has continued with parts both big and small, and nary an arrest to be found.

Oddly, this third block is entirely truthful. The former Mr. Heidi Klum, “Kiss from a Rose” singer Seal, is not just a lupus sufferer.1 He’s also a tremendous marksman, and using his techniques can increase the quality of your shooting tremendously.


  1. While it’s very rare, sometimes it is in fact lupus.↩︎

Bad Ads: Logic? Whatever.

Last month, I linked to a piece describing Budweiser’s Hypocrisy. Today, I’ve got a Bud Light ad in my crosshairs. The brand has been focused on the concept of being “up for whatever”, showcasing things like life-sized Pac-Man and ping-pong against Arnold Schwarzenegger alongside their beer. These ads doesn’t make me want a Bud Light, but they aren’t terrible, which is frankly some of the highest praise I can give a commercial.

However, the 15 second version of a recent Bud Light ad for their “Whatever, USA” campaign contains these words1:

  • This once-in-a-lifetime town is happening again.

I just…I mean…it’s right there. They didn’t call it “once-in-a-lifetime” and then thirty seconds later said it was “happening again”. That would be stupid enough, but here, they put it in the same breath! Is this town built for people who were alive for the first version last year, but are dead now? Or perhaps it’s for babies born since the last iteration?

Look, I think I’m a relatively carefree kind of guy. I can be up for most things, and I strive to say “Yes” to new experiences. If you want to run a marathon dressed as the Village People (did it) or take a one-day trip to Iceland (almost did it), I’m in. But I draw the line at logically invalid sentences. I am not up for that.


  1. As usual, the video is archived here. ↩︎