Having worked in advertising, I understand the pressures on creative departments to produce winning campaigns under sometimes-ridiculous time constraints. I’ve been part of teams that have collectively caved as the deadline loomed, and went with an idea that was not necessarily the best, but one most people agreed didn’t suck. Or one they thought the client would approve. So I can forgive a campaign that comes in “half a bubble off plumb.” But a few lately have been truly irritating, inane, insulting and have left me scratching my head, wishing I could have been in those creative meetings to strike down those stupid ideas and maybe given someone a well-needed withering stare. Here are some of my favorite awful ads of 2010. As always, your actual experience may vary.
1. “Enjoy the go.”
Excuse me? Did I hear that right, or did Charmin bath tissue just invite me to enjoy the experience that precedes the use of their product? Sometimes I wonder if Procter & Gamble is completely off their nut or absolutely brilliant for running with this campaign. If you have to sell toilet paper, you might as well make it entertaining. So…bring on a family of animated bears! (‘Cause that’s what bears do in the woods, get it?) They’re cute and cuddly and nobody’s going to get grossed out when Mama Bear frets about little bits of toilet paper sticking to baby’s butt. Now P&G’s family of spokesmammals wants you to get in on the fun. According to their web site, “Charmin wants to create a movement where the entire nation can enjoy a better bathroom experience.” Uh…thanks. But you’re making me miss the Geico cavemen.
2. “Who has time to slim slowly?”
Slim-Fast says you don’t. Apparently, they haven’t been following the tsunami of scientific evidence pointing to a slow, steady weight reduction as the healthiest way to lose unwanted pounds and keep them off. They’ve chosen instead to taunt our reptilian brains, which want what they want when they want it. This sells product (and repeat product, as those who’ve not taken the time to slim slowly gain back all the weight they’ve lost plus some), but is underhanded and even dangerous. I’ve called out this campaign less for its stupidity and more for its deviousness. Bad, bad Slim-Fast. And they’ve even printed a teeny tiny disclaimer at the bottom of the commercial that a weight loss of more than two pounds of week is “not recommended.”
3. “Love Your Vagina.”
As in the Charmin example above (you’re still thinking about bears in the woods, aren’t you?), it’s hard to sell personal (and in this case, very personal) hygiene products. This is the opening UK salvo for the Mooncup, an “alternative type of sanitary protection.” After giving the page a read, it invites you to submit whatever name you call your “lady garden.” Adorable. For more fun, go here to learn what lots of forthcoming British ladies call theirs.
4. “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.”
You might have seen this. A dude sleepwalks to McDonalds, blowing off anyone who tries to exchange a word with him because he’s uncaffeinated. Dude, if you’re that much of a jerk in the morning, buy a coffeemaker and snort some joe before you leave the house. You don’t want to be this guy, either.
5. “Wow, that’s a low price!”
Oh, wow, Staples, why? I seriously, seriously, seriously want to smack this jackwagon. And then medicate him. That was easy.
6. “10:10 No pressure.”
This series of public service ads is hideous, and the worst part is that I can imagine an apocalyptic version of the future in which this could happen. The group behind the videos showing English schoolchildren being blown to bloody bits has since apologized and pulled the spots. They could have learned from Audi. If you’re trying to coerce people into obeying the green laws, why not do it in a funnier way, and sell hybrids at the same time? At least nobody blows up.
Which ads from this year made you cringe?