Previous “Bad Ads” posts

I Hope They Offer Divorce Insurance 

Perhaps you’ve seen the State Farm’s sickly-sweet ad entitled “Never”.1 In it, a man vows to never do several things, such as get married or have kids, then ultimately caves on each promise. Not to worry, as State Farm is there to insure him along the way.

Over at BoingBoing, Heather Johanssen raises a great point. Given that man’s track record, his poor family is about to be abandoned.


  1. Archived here. ↩︎

Budweiser’s Hypocrisy 

I recently saw Budweiser’s atrocious “Brewed the Hard Way” ad1 again, after first viewing it during the Super Bowl. It hasn’t gotten any better with age. Over at Paste, Jim Vorel had an elegant takedown of the whole piece of nonsense.


  1. Archived here. ↩︎

So Pumped for Christmas

This year, Home Depot has been airing a commercial entitled “Holiday Decorations”, and by Melchior’s myrrh it’s got me in the Christmas spirit.1 Watch it and just try not to get some yule in your log.

The basic concept is that your ordinary decorating just doesn’t cut it anymore, so you’d better get your ass to Home Depot, tout suite.

A Real Garbage Display
This is garbage, people, just real garbage.

Let’s follow along with the ad’s incredible “rally the troops” pump-up speech:

  • Let’s decorate. No, let’s dominate.

YES! Finally someone is saying it! There is a literal war on Christmas, and we are going to win it!

  • Let’s throw Christmas…a curveball.

Hell, let’s throw it a goddamned beanball!

  • Let’s do fresh, and wow, and never seen that before.

    Let’s do 100 count, make it 1000.

Your old crap is old and crappy! Buy Buy BUY!

  • Let’s get the season going.

The day after Halloween is not soon enough!

  • Let’s add this, and keep this, so we can have more of this.

Get a box of giant Martha Stewart-branded ornaments, save $6, and your family might finally love you.

  • Tradition? We just made some new ones.

Like the tradition of not being able to see out your windows because you covered them with giant light-up snowflakes!

An Obvious Improvement

  • Let’s do this!


God bless us, everyone.


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

Bad Ads: Nissan’s “Gas Station Breakup”

If it’s baseball playoff season, it must also be time for the incessant repetition of a small number of lousy commercials. Today it’s time for a look at Nissan’s “Gas Station Breakup”.1 Nissan’s description of their ad is as follows:

A proud new owner of the fuel-efficient 2013 Nissan Altima must stop by his local gas station to say goodbye to the gas station attendant.

Idiots Breaking Up

The car’s owner is “saying goodbye” because the new Altima has a single-digit improvement in highway gas mileage over previous models. The car still takes gas. It’s not even a hybrid. Unless he was previously driving an RV or a Hummer, that “proud new owner” of an Altima is still going to need to gas up nearly as often as he used to.

As in previous cases, I attempted to provide a simple fix to this illogical ad. But how could this ad possibly work? Gosh, if only there were some new type of car, one which didn’t run on gas. Then you’d literally never need to go to a gas station!

Maybe such a vehicle could run on electricity. Wouldn’t that be wild? Just think of it, a 100% electric, no-gas vehicle!

Nissan Leaf No-Gas Car Print Ad


  1. Archived here. ↩︎

Bad Ads: Bud Light Commercials

Beer commercials from the major breweries seldom make much sense. Miller Light ads have highlighted their “vortex bottles”1:

Miller Lite's Vortex Bottle
Specially designed!

While commercials from Coors Light have long been pitching their beer based on its temperature2:

Angry Captain Picard Yells at Coors
Samuel Adams’ slogan tells you to “Take pride in your beer”.
Coors wants you to take pride in your refrigerator.

The beers simply aren’t sold on their own merits, and flavor and quality tend to go unmentioned. Instead, style and gimmicks are clearly the rule of the day, which lends itself to all manner of stupidity.

A case in point is Bud Light’s recent ads featuring Stevie Wonder’s fantastic song “Superstition”. The spots (such as this one3) celebrate football fans engaging in various rituals intended to give their preferred teams good luck, all while drinking Bud Light, of course.

You likely know Wonder’s classic, but do you know the lyrics? Admittedly, the funky jam’s words are not terribly meaningful or important. Nevertheless, the song clearly spells out a message: superstition is a silly thing with negative consequences. Here’s the chorus:

When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer.
Superstition ain’t the way.

Showing your customers engaged in superstition while playing a song scorning that behavior doesn’t really seem like a great message for selling beer. Then again, maybe someone at the ad agency knows exactly what they’re doing, and we’re seeing a truly honest commercial. After all, the folks shown believing in superstition are all stuck choking down Bud Light. It’s difficult to imagine worse suffering than that.


  1. “Well, it’s got grooves.↩︎

  2. Presumably so that it’s cold enough that you don’t actually have to taste it. ↩︎

  3. Archived here. ↩︎

Bad Ads: Five Questions for Hot Pockets Sideshots

Hot Pockets, the microwaveable dinner of sorrow and remorse, has a new TV commercial. The ad, entitled Brothers, is touting their Sideshots sandwiches1. While most commercials are intended to be informative, this one leaves me with many more questions than answers. So, five questions for Nestle about Hot Pockets Sideshots:

  • Why does Buffalo Chicken have a stutter?

  • Why is Sloppy Joe so obviously stoned?

  • Despite boasting about tasting great, your anthropomorphized sandwiches are clearly terrified of being eaten. What sort of reluctant suicide food is this?

  • Are you aware that you’re singing your theme with the same blasé tone and inflection Jim Gaffagan uses in his Hot Pockets standup routine2, specifically when he says “Diarrhea pockets”?

  • Would it be possible to have your product look any more like a bowel movement?

    Hot Pockets Sideshots Cheeseburgers
    A steaming pile of sideshots.


  1. Archived right here. ↩︎

  2. Archived as well. ↩︎

Bad Ads: Travelers’ Rattlesnake Ad

If you’ve been watching the MLB playoffs, you’ve been repeatedly subjected to the same ads over and over again. Contempt being bred by familiarity and all, it’s time for another critical look at commercial logic. This round features Travelers Insurance’s Rattlesnake ad, available on the Tube that is You.

Travelers’ own description of this ad is as follows:

In this commercial for Travelers Insurance, a rabbit unwittingly stumbles across a menacing rattlesnake. The rattlesnake loses all credibility, however, when we see that it’s had a bogus repair job done on its rattle.

A snake’s rattle is a warning to larger enemies, to persuade them to steer clear. Rattlesnakes are venomous, and inflict a toxic bite to immobilize prey before swallowing them whole. Put more succinctly? The rattle isn’t what kills you.

Rabbit, Spotting Snake
This rabbit is going to die.

A cocky desert rabbit who hears a rattle should be thankful he got a warning sound and he should run the other way. Such a rabbit should not fall over as he laughs it up, and he certainly should not call his friends over. Rabbit, that snake is going to bite your ass. He’s going to bite all your asses, then swallow you whole.

As I did last time, I will again provide free advice on how to fix things. In this case, said advice consists of just two words: “Dracula fangs”.

Dracula fangs

Picture it. The snake broke his fangs and got these shoddy replacements. It’d look hilarious, even more comical than a baby rattle. The rabbits could safely yuck it up and Travelers’ point would be made.

Advertisers, just like last time, this idea is yours free of charge that you might correct your nincompoopery. Here’s hoping.


  1. As usual, here’s a mirror in case the video ever falls off YouTube.   

Bad Ads: AT&T’s ‘Ballet’ Ad

My poor television, which does nothing but what is asked of it, is often subjected to hysterical rantings about the nincompoopery that is modern advertising. The most recent ad to have me scattering flecks of spittle into the air is AT&T’s ‘Ballet’, which can currently be viewed via YouTube1. It shows the same woman in two parallel universes, one where she’s on AT&T’s faster network and the other where she’s on a different, ever-so-slightly slower network. As she walks outside, she downloads something to her phone. When her download finishes, she puts away her phone, dropping her ballet shoes in the process.

In the AT&T universe where her download finished faster, a pair of ballet producers take notice of the woman. She joins them, auditions, and gets a part. How very fortunate that she had that AT&T phone!

A second still from the ad
On the left is the AT&T universe. On the right is a depressing world of unfulfilled promise and crushing despair.

In the non-AT&T universe, the ballet producers pass our protagonist by without noticing her, leaving her to continue her sad and unfulfilling existence. Ultimately, she watches someone else perform in the ballet and contemplates taking her own life.

Of course, the two outcomes have no real relation to AT&T or its supposedly faster network. They’re simple chance. If the producers had left their office 5 seconds later, AT&T’s network would have had the woman dropping her slippers too early, while the slow network would have led to the fulfillment of all her dreams.

Here’s a tip for the thousands of advertising executives out there among my faithful readers: if the meaning of your ad depends on a coin flip, you probably don’t have a very good ad. Also, a follow-up tip, a quick look at the numbers says that you probably don’t have a very good ad anyway.

The most galling bit is that it would be so easy to fix this dreck. Instead of a chance meeting on the street caused by dropped ballet slippers, the woman could be downloading directions to a ballet audition. The faster AT&T network would get her the directions sooner, so she could set off and get the part. The slower network could delay her enough that by the time she got to the audition, the part has gone to someone else. Everything else could remain the same, and the entire premise would no longer revolve around happenstance.

AT&T advertisers, you’re welcome to this idea free of charge. It’s all yours, because avoiding the mental drain caused by your brainlessness is worth far more than money.


  1. I’ve also archived the commercial in all its 720p wretchedness here. ↩︎