Experts, Critics, Other Loudmouths Sound Off About Worst Ad In America Nominees

UPDATE: Be sure to check out the 2011 edition of our Worst Ad Round Table!

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In case you’re coming late to the party, we recently announced the nominees for Consumerist’s First Annual Worst Ad In America Awards. For perspective, we spoke to a round table of cognoscente to get their feedback on some of the nominated spots.

Joining us was Nathan Rabin of AVclub.com and author of the upcoming My Year of Flops; Jen Doll of the Village Voice; Lilit Marcus, editor-in-chief of TheGloss.com; Mark Marino, entertainment writer and the mind behind Confections of a Dangerous Mind; and an ad agency executive who wished to remain anonymous, lest he lose his job.

Here are their knee-jerk reactions to the nominees in our top category and a handful of other nominees:

HONDA: “MR. OPPORTUNITY”
Anonymous: “Maybe this campaign wasn’t annoying when it was for a one-off sales event, but after running so long, even I’m ready to punch Mr. Opportunity in the face.
Nathan: “That creepy CGI spokescartoon is so getting a handjob in the back of the limo. That, friends, is the takeaway from that ad.”
Mark: “Mr. Opportunity should be called Mr. Douchebaggery for the simple fact that he looks like Matthew McConaughey and hangs at trendy clubs. And the Honda pitchman is really being taken for a ride if he thinks that model is with him because she’s attracted to him. Mr. Opportunity, meet Ms. Opportunist.”

PROGRESSIVE: “FLO”
Nathan: “I think it’s fittingly progressive that Progressive has chosen as its spokeswoman a boundlessly cheery woman who is clearly on MDMA all the time.”
Lilit: “Sorry, but people named Flo only make me think of one thing, and I don’t like to associate car insurance with my menstrual cycle.”
Mark: “I pray that the speeding car at the end of the ad was fleeing a hit-and-run scene in which it mowed down Flo and the fat guy with the sweater draped over his shoulders. In his one second on screen, he managed to be more annoying than she is.”

QUIZNOS: “SINGIMALS”
Nathan: “I never imagined it possible, but Quiznos has found a way to make kittens insufferable. Good job, Quiznos. I can’t wait to see how you fuck up rainbows and sunsets.”
Jen: “That cat really needs to stop smoking and drink some honey lemon throat tea — that voice sounds like my mom singing in church. Regardless, if Quiznos is targeting the stoner market (which they should), this does the trick nicely. But, isn’t ‘toasty bullet’ slang for anal sex?”
Mark: “This is wrong on so many levels. First off, I don’t want cats anywhere near my food. They could get fur in it and their paws were just in a filthy litter box. Also, this poor cat clearly has polyps on its vocal cords and needs surgery, yet the Quiznos people still forced it to sing. I needed a lozenge after watching it.”

STAPLES: “WOW! THAT’S A LOW PRICE!”
Nathan: “Who among us doesn’t experience orgasmic joy due to office supply deals?”
Mark: “While the screaming in this ad is certainly jarring, you have to give Staples credit for hiring a mentally challenged actor to plug their great prices. And God love him, he’s enthusiastic, ain’t he? But that other guy is going to hell for mocking him at the end.”

STATE FARM: “POCKET AGENT”
Nathan: “I’m still not entirely sure what a pocket agent is, though it sounds dirty.”
Mark: “Pocket Agent sounds dirty, and this ad also reinforces the “subservient Asian woman” stereotype. The guy tries to do all the talking for Larissa, his lil’ pocket agent. My biggest issue, though, was this: What the hell is up with his hair? It’s like he couldn’t decide wheter to part it in the middle or to the side, and went with this off-center, severe separation that looks not unlike what Joyce DeWitt sported on season 1 of Three’s Company.”

CHARMIN: “STICKY-BOTTOMED BEARS”
Lilit: “You know, ‘Do bears shit in the woods?’ isn’t actually a Zen riddle.
Jen: “OK, maybe I’m out of the loop, but is this an actual problem people face? Toilet paper left behind? Still, I can’t help but think fondly of a commercial that leaves me with visions of ass hair dancing in my head. Toasty bullet, indeed.”
Mark: “This is worse than getting the sex talk from your parents.”

McDONALD’S: THE “NOT UNTIL I’VE HAD MY COFFEE” JERKFACE
Jen: “I think what he means to say is, ‘Don’t talk to me before I’ve had my orgasm.’ Can’t he just jerk off in the bathroom like a normal dude?”
Mark: “I’m not a morning person and I don’t like to converse until at least noon, but this guy’s just an a-hole.”

1 800 DENTIST: THE LAST WOMAN ON EARTH YOU’D WANT IN THE ELEVATOR WITH YOU
Anonymous: “At least the coffee jerk redeems himself at the end, but this woman isn’t likable at all.”
Mark: “Getting your teeth drilled would be less painful than getting stuck on an elevator with this irritating woman. And lose the attitude if you want to land a dentist, lady! It also wouldn’t hurt to lose the jacket — she looked like a big dumb-ass with those too-short sleeves.”

OLD NAVY: SUPER MODELQUINS
Lilit: “Remember the replicants from Blade Runner? That movie was awesome. Wait, what was this commercial about again?”

LIBERATOR MEDICAL: “NO MORE USED CATHETERS”
Anonymous: “Please don’t talk to me about catheters– used or otherwise.”
Mark: “Jessica Simpson Is totally convincing in her role as ‘Cath,’ a woman on a quest for a sterile catheter. What a dramatic turn for the singer/Dukes of Hazard star! And I like that she pulled a Charlize Theron and uglied herself up a bit for the role. I smell Oscar… and pee.”
Lilit: “This is totally a missing scene from Best In Show, right? RIGHT?”

DANNON LIGHT & FIT: HEIDI KLUM
Jen: “The perfect commercial for anorexics who dream of binge-eating…yogurt. 80-calorie yogurt. Sad. You know what else has 80 calories? A glass of wine. Drink seven to make this commercial bearable.”

APPLE: iPHONE FACE TIME — “SMILE”
Lilit: “I’m so glad that lonelygirl15 was able to get more work.”
Mark: “There’s something a little “To Catch a Predator” about this creepy guy Skyping with a tween girl and trying to get her to smile. I was expecting him to say something like, ‘Will you smile if I show you Mr. Happy?’ and then flash her. What a relief when she called him “Dad” at the end — that is, if he really is her father.”

If you haven’t voted yet, here is your chance!







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Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. ElizabethD says:

    Advertising peeps are so much fun to trade quips and banter with — clever, smart, and reliably snarky. Win!

  2. AnonymousCoward says:

    Having Tivo makes me so happy sometimes. The only one of these I’ve ever seen is the one with the bears with the tp.

    • chrisexv6 says:

      Same here.

      I rolled thru the list of nominees and Im proud to say I havent seen about 75% of them. Took me a second to figure out exactly why, but I got it

  3. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Sticky-Bottomed Bears reminds me of an old riddle: Why is toilet paper like the Starship Enterprise? Because it flies around Uranus looking for Klingons. HARHARHARHAR!!!!!

  4. snobum says:

    I love the title of this article.

  5. thompson says:

    ‘Will you smile if I show you Mr. Happy?’

    Laughed. out. loud.

  6. Dinhilion says:

    Avclub and Consumerist collaborating?!?!? *Head Explodes from awesomeness*

  7. KathleemB says:

    All the entrants in the annoying human and animated spokesthing category are so deserving, I can’t decide! And the only reason I didn’t vote to kick the asses of the Sienna couple is because the bus opera ads are SO EFFING ANNOYING!!

    • Anonymously says:

      The J.D. Wentworth bus ad is Epic Win, I don’t know why people hate it.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      Why didn’t the Redbull commercials make this list? I want to shoot my TV every time I see the one with Grampy in the saloon. :(

  8. XianZomby says:

    My only complaint is that an event cannot be an annual event until it has been held twice. Per AP style, “first annual” is out, even if you plan to hold it each year. “Second annual” is okay, however.

    • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

      But “First Annual” is a good way to indicate that you plan on making this a recurring event instead of a one-off deal.

      “Event We’d Like to Do Again Sometime, Maybe Around This Time Next Year” just doesn’t have the same ring.

  9. Scuba Steve says:

    Ads are supposed to give people the impression of the brand and try to associate that brand with some emotion. Some ads buck this trend by either picking a negative emotion, or not associating with anything at all, leaving viewers to search for the brand online or simply shut out the brand from their minds.

    Definitions aside, I don’t see a problem with an add that’s creepy, weird, sick, or humorous, as long as the message gets across. Thats what ads are for. Besides, companies rarely have in house talent making these. They’re all farmed out to marketing companies who have “ad wizards” that try and get your attention. They love controversy, even if the brand name companies don’t.

  10. Scamazon says:

    I have a new game. Its called go to Staples and yell out WOW, that’s a low price! Video tape it amd get employee’s reactions…

  11. MedicallyNeedy says:

    MOST GRATING PERFORMANCE BY A HUMAN.

    Write in vote: Iris Cross, BP

  12. Griking says:

    I’d love to read more replies from the people that run some of the companies that have been nominated.

    • Chris Morran says:

      We’ve sent requests to all the advertisers and agencies responsible for the 5 “Absolute Worst” nominees. Quiznos is the only one that’s sent a response so far.

  13. Rachacha says:

    I still say none of these are as bad as Drake University’s “D+” Advertising campaign. http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_16114173

  14. kjaxx says:

    The Quizno’s kittens make no sense to me. They are singing along to the tune of Three Blind Mice. Shouldn’t it be mice? It baffles me and makes me cringe every single time I see it.

    Meanwhile, I adore the Allstate Mayhem campaign. I love Dean Winters (the actor), and I think it is a creative approach to car insurance ads. The messaging of such ads is always going to be dull, so finding a way to make the message delivery original in a sector that is so boring, serious and traditional gets a thumb’s up from me.

  15. Gregg Araki Rocks My World says:

    The free credit report band is pretty awful. Remember the one where he complains that his wife has bad credit and pretty much says he wouldn’t have married her if he knew she had bad credit. Yeah, that’s pretty terrible.

  16. Foot_Note says:

    what about all those lawyer ads? “Jum, the hamper, shapiro”…

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      Never heard of him (her?) That’s the problem.. Regional ads aren’t likely to earn “Worst Ad in America” I’m certain there are plenty of truly egregious ads for lawyers, car dealerships, & jewelry stores in just about every locale though.

      • dangermike says:

        True dat. You non-southern-Californians are truly deprived for having never seen Crazy Gideon going about his crazy price slashing (and product smashing).

        It’s truly epic and legendary.

  17. pax says:

    I’m bursting with pride that my nomination made it! (the Chase ad with the annoying couple and the iPhone app). I mean, I know it wasn’t *just* *my* nomination, but I’m tickled pink that Consumerist thinks I have good taste in bad things.

  18. ZekeDMS says:

    There needs to be a last category. “Worst musical commercial in America.”

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      That would have put the Quiznos cats into that category for the win, and freed up a vote to send the Staples ad to its doom as well!

      • ZekeDMS says:

        Maybe. It’d have put Quizno’s, eDiets (probably), Blue Bell, and a good few others in a seriously competitive category, that’s for sure.

  19. Snaptastic says:

    I hate those Danon commercials with Heidi Klum so much that I refused to use a coupon that would get me the stuff for free.

    Whoop-dee-fracking-doo! Twenty calories! Do you have any idea how stupid it is to worry about such a minor amount of calories that could easily be burned off by just doing 20 jumping jacks or walking a whopping couple hundred of feet?!?!? Oh wait…I forget that they are advertising to lazy, immobile women who would lick a yogurt container cleaner than my dogs do to get the last smidge of yogurt. Heaven forbid they care about the flavor, calcium content or other things–god knows that us women just try to ingest as few calories as possible while still managing to eat like hogs.

    In case y’all haven’t figured it out, that ad makes me all punchy.

  20. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    These comments are full of win. I have to wonder sometimes what goes in in the boardroom when they are tossing around ideas for these commercials. I have the image of somebody saying “No that isn’t annyong enough – we need to make it even more vapid!”

  21. Altdotweb says:

    The Smile ad was parodied on Youtube with Pedobear.

    It put the creepiness of that ad in perspective.

  22. crazydavythe1st says:

    I don’t know, many of these ads aren’t that bad and are often pretty memorable. I happen to think it’s hilarious that other commenters around here talk about boycotting companies over ads that just happen to annoy them.

    It makes Consumerist readers out to be ultra fringe crazies that get ticked off at companies over the slightest provocations. Not to mention that when you look at YouTube comments for most of these commercials, the prevailing opinion on most of them is that they are humorous. But we already knew that most of the commenters around here lost their sense of humor back in the 50s. There’s only a few commercials up there that are truly deserving of “worst ad in America”. ahem, the General and Jamie Lee Curtis. and really the Activia commercials aren’t that bad, I just don’t have problems with irregularity.

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      Man, thanks Captain Killjoy.

    • DeepHurting says:

      I agree.
      Commentators on The Consumerist are always up in arms about misleading or inappropriate adverts, yet the Liberator Medical ad gets thrown into the “Creepiest Commercial” category. Have you seen this commercial? It’s the idea of what commercials should be.
      Unfortunately, some people use need to use catheters. Due to expenses or what-have-you, some people may need to reuse catheters. This can lead to health problems. A company provides NEW catheters, so people don’t need to reuse their old ones and get infections, etc. The commercial clearly states that they are providing a service, and outlines how to obtain this service. Would people rather see a singing, dancing catheter wearing a top hat a twirling a cane? A talking baby shilling catheters? What could this company have done to make an acceptable commercial?

      BTW: I should get a reward for using the word “catheter” so many times in one comment.

    • You hate your job but you're still working there? says:

      To be fair, you’re probably more of a crazy fringe person if you go looking around on Youtube for ads which specifically annoy you, so it makes a little sense that commenters are raving about them, especially since those who /do/ go commenting on videos that annoy them are bombarded with a plethora of “why waste your time commenting” and “no one made you watch” remarks.

  23. 339point4 says:

    Aww, I disagree about the iphone smile commercial. It’s readily apparent that this is a dad talking to his daughter, and one can guess that she’s hiding braces almost from the beginning. It’s sweet, and believable.
    The REALLY annoying iphone commercial is the one with the woman telling the man she’s pregnant. Oh god that’s so awkward. Who talks like that?

  24. atheos says:

    how on earth did the BING commercials avoid all the top spots. I don’t even change the channel or hit mute anymore, I simply turn off the TV when these ads come on. No program is that good, that I should have to suffer these terrible ads.

    • Froggmann says:

      +478469

      At first I didn’t understand what the hell they were trying to convey.

      Now I understand that using Bing! (Really who the F thought that was a good search tool name?) is akin to just turning yourself over to the bodysnatchers..

  25. StevePierce says:

    Quiznos maybe trying to be edgy with their commercials, but that ad is so annoying I can’t leave the TV on in the waiting room any more. We have banned Quiznos from any office lunches for the rest of the year and we even told the local franchise holder why we stopped buying. He just shrugged his shoulders and said there was nothing he could do, he didn’t like the ad either.

    There is edgy and there is stupid. Quiznos apparently call tell the difference.

  26. kamiikoneko says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8F_G2zp-opg

    please. kill. Worst than all of these ads COMBINED

  27. SavageFTW says:

    Coming from a family of advertisers, there is a huge discrepancy here. Most commercials made are because that’s what the client wanted. Not what the ad agency wanted to do. It’s usually the client coming up with these terrible ideas, then stuffing them down the throats of the ad firms to get them made.

  28. impatientgirl says:

    how they ruin rainbows and sunsets lol

  29. IraAntelope says:

    glad to see that staples won…I hit the mute when that one appeared.