Wow! That's A $&#!!% Ad! Staples Commercial Voted Worst Ad In America For 2010

It seems like ages ago that we first asked you to tell us which commercials were getting under your skin. And you responded by the thousands! We “took it seriously” and painstakingly whittled your suggestions down to the final nominees for our first ever Worst Ad In America Awards. And now, with more than 100 000 votes counted in our completely unscientific poll, we have a clear winner (or is it loser?) — Staples’ “Wow! That’s a Low Price!” commercial.

With just over 30% of the vote, the winning ad, featuring the loudest, most enthusiastic, downright spastic Staples shopper ever, edged out Quiznos’ cavalcade of costumed, singing animals (28.6%). It goes to show that the mere presence of kittens will always sway some voters.

Two early front-runners, Honda’s Mr. Opportunity and Progressive Insurance’s Flo campaigns, finished a distant third (18.7%) and fourth (15.5%) respectively. Meanwhile, the least ostensibly offensive ad of the bunch, State Farm’s chummy, raven-haired insurance buddy, brought up the rear with only 7.1% of the vote.


The actor behind McDonald’s “not before I have my coffee” jerk might wish he’d slept in this morning, because he was the clear victor in this category (35%). His closest competition came in the form of another pitchman for a liquid pick-me-up, 5-Hour Energy’s Mr. “Do you know what 2:30 feels like?” Well, we’d like to ask him “Do you know what it’s like to annoy 28.5% of our voters?”

The surprise in this category came from Wendy’s “pico de gallo” loud-mouth, who actually received the highest number of nominations in this category from the initial reader submissions. But with only 9.15% of the final vote, he was — probably to the relief of both him and his agent — at the back of the pack when it came time for people to vote.

This one came as a genuine surprise to us. The General (of the insurance company with the same name) came out of nowhere with 32.7% to beat the heavily favored Charmin Bears with their prickly, toilet paper-snagging butts (25.8%) along with Geico’s squealing pig (25.2%). Michelin’s bizarre commercial featuring animated road kill dancing in the streets came in last (6.8%), but we’d have to wonder how that spot would have fared if it had been placed in the Creepiest Commercial category.

The winner of this one — JG Wentworth’s busload of opera singers (24.63%) — wasn’t much of shocker, though we would not have predicted that it would be such a close race, or that the commercial coming in a very close second (the tightest finish of the entire competition) would be the Chase ad (23.35%) featuring the newlyweds who’d rather spend their time depositing checks on their iPhone than, you know, doing honeymoon stuff.

This was a battle of two men — Ben Stein and Jimmy Johnson — who embarrassed themselves immensely by taking gigs as pitchmen for somewhat eyebrow-raising companies. In the end it was coach-turned-broadcaster-turned-Survivor-star Jimmy’s 32% beating out Nixon-flunky-turned-professor-turned-actor-turned-game-show-host-turned-ex-New-York-Times-columnist Stein’s 29%.

In the end, it looks like readers just didn’t want to imagine helmet-haired Johnson taking pills to enhance his… jimmy.

Speaking of imagery just ruining it for everyone, that’s the best way to explain the runaway victory of Liberator Medical’s catheter commercial. Not only is the word “catheter” enough to make many people cross their legs awkwardly, the ad’s opening line of “I had to reuse catheters for the rest of my life” sent chills down the spines (and up the urethras) of 46.37% of the voters. Liberator’s 20% defeat of second-place Old Navy was by far the largest margin of victory in all of WAIA 2010.

Well folks, that’s it for the first ever Worst Ad In America Awards.
We had a lot of fun; learned a little about each other and most importantly, no one got hurt.

UPDATE: With the help of our dear friends at Consumer Reports, we now present to you the winning ad in all it’s glory — complete with commentary by Bob Markovich, Home & Yard Editor. As you can see, his title should really be “Vice President of Awesome.”

Thanks again to everyone who voted, and to the staff of Consumer Reports for lending a hand and, well, tolerating us.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Coupon says:

    I can’t believe so many ppl don’t mind Flo as much.

  2. cynical_reincarnation says:

    I stand by my hatred for state farm’s ad.

    • theycallmeGinger says:

      I’m with you. The ad that was shown wasn’t the most annoying in and of itself, but if you have to explain why a commercial (or series of commercials) sucks, then I guess it doesn’t belong. (Originally, the “pocket agent” was constantly being interrupted by the d-bag spokesperson — then, realizing their faux pas, SF reversed the scenario.) Regardless, that smug hipster doofus has got. ta. go.

  3. qbubbles says:

    “These strangers were my friends…” – that catheter lady is super creepy.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    Interviewer: Jimmie Johnson, does Extenze work?
    JJ: Well, it works for me.
    Interviewer: Umm, that’s not the question I asked.

  5. Raekwon says:

    All of these were either my first or second choice so I can’t say I disagree with the results. Does it mean I watch too much TV if I didn’t even need to watch youtube to find out what any of these were? Or should I just DVR more :-)

  6. Murph1908 says:

    Not only is the staples ad bad, they played it on almost every break during Sportscenter for a while.

  7. LordTwinkie says:

    wheres that smug jerk Mr Opportunity at? i hate that guy with a passion.

  8. dulcinea47 says:

    Let’s not forget to mention that the sentence “I had to reuse catheters for the rest of my life” isn’t even grammatical. You can’t do something in the past (“had to”) in the future (“the rest of my life”). It should have been “I would have had to”.

  9. bluevideo says:

    Aw. With such a narrow margin, I’d like to see a run-off. Ah well.

    • RxDude says:

      No run off – the catheters fixed that.

    • smartmuffin says:

      I actually LIKE the Staples ad. I thought it was mildly clever and not nearly as annoying as several other ads (especially Flo)

      • Southern says:

        I liked the Staples ad too. Granted the first time I saw it I jumped out of my chair a bit at the first “WOW!!”, but it’s a pretty humorous ad. It’s nowhere near the “nails on a chalkboard” category that those damn cats are in. :-)

  10. Bremma says:

    I’d have liked to see the voting spreads at a chart for all the categories. Still, interesting results. None of the things I voted for ‘won’, but most I did vote for did seem to come in second.

  11. moderndemagogue says:

    Why is there a worst ad in America contest? How about a best one?

  12. StoicLion says:

    Did you know that Rob Paulsen, the actor whovoice of Honda’s Mr. Opportunity, also voiced Wakko Warner from “Animaniacs”? And now you know…

    • pop top says:

      Rob Paulsen is a great voice actor; he’s done a ton of stuff.

      (insert Fight Club joke)

    • scar4711 says:

      Actually.. Wakko was voiced by Jess Harnell..who is currently voicing some Transformers and is the lead singer of Rock Sugar (look them up..)

      Rob Paulsen voiced Yakko.. (The older brother)..

    • davincidad says:

      Rob Paulsen voiced Yakko Warner, not Wakko. Wakko was done by Jess Harnell. Paulsen also did Dr. Scratchnsniff and Pinky (“Pinky and the Brain”). (Yes, I admit to being an “Animaniacs” fan.)

    • MrEvil says:

      And knowing is half the battle!

      I knew the voice actor was familiar. Still Mr Opportunity is smug and douchey. I don’t know why Honda keeps using that character. Nothing against the voice actor.

  13. mac-phisto says:

    kittens or no kittens, that commercial is f-ing annoying. the chimes & off-key singing just kill my ears.

  14. AllanG54 says:

    I still can’t believe that Ben Stein was a speech writer for JFK back when he was in his early 20s and he’s grown up to be…well whatever he’s grown up to be. Pitchman, MTV game host, whatever. I guess some people will go wherever the pay is highest.

  15. theycallmeGinger says:

    This is too late, but I’m taking this opportunity to vent about ads I saw recently and hate:

    “Turn the tub around” ad for I can’t believe it ain’t buttah. Horrible!

    Any commercial that has that Train song (“He-eyyyyy, he-eh-eh-eyyyyy, he-eh-eh-eyyyyy…. tonight.”) I think there are 3 or more out there right now. Agonizing!

    • cromartie says:

      I’m with you on Turn The Tub Around. That ad is so terrible, Megan Mullally and Gerald and Peter Jackson (or whomever owns the rights to that song) cannot possibly sleep at night for having participating in something so awful willingly.

  16. chatnoir80 says:

    Here’s the alternate “Wow, that’s a low price” commercial.

    If they would’ve cut it off at the 17 second mark it would’ve been gold.

    • hotdogsunrise says:

      But she’s talkin’ ’bout nutrition!

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Agreed. I actually thought it was a parody before the second guy agreed with him.

      I hadn’t seen any of these ads before. Damn, no wonder Staples won! What’s worse is that this version of the ad acknowledges that this guy screaming is stupid and annoying. “Yeah, we know it’s bad but we did it anyway!”

      (I kinda dig the Sparta remix)

    • PTB315 says:

      gotta agree 100% with the 17 second thing, I would have been forced to begrudgingly enjoy it were that the case.

  17. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I didn’t vote in any of this; I only see TV ads when watching Hulu because Adult Swim’s ads have stopped working for some reason. However, I don’t mind the 5-Hour Energy ads: they’re not shouty and they don’t even have music so it’s actually pretty easy to ignore it if you want to. That and the ads don’t exaggerate by showing or implying that people suddenly become superhuman after using it or say that you’re a terrible person for not using it.

  18. Mangy66 says:

    Staples ad gets my vote…maybe not for WORST ad…but definitely MOST ANNOYING

    At night before I go to bed, I read my book and leave ESPN News running in the background. Many times I will fall asleep with the TV on. But, Staples has figured out a way to be as effective as my alarm clock, with that fool yelling, “WOW!!! THAT’S A LOW PRICE!!!”

  19. DeepHurting says:

    Wow… If you can read this much into an insurance commercial, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Gravity’s Rainbow.

  20. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    I’m only a little suprised that most of my picks “won”… I don’t think there is anything much on earth (that would be allowed on TV anyway) that is creepier than talking about dirty catheters. Oh. My. Goodness.

    I thought there were trophies involved with this contest. What do they look like? Do they shout random awful annoying things at the “winner”? Meg tweeted about trophies arriving, so I want to know!

  21. valthun says:

    My biggest problem with the McDonald’s jerk is that if he is so useless without coffee why does he leave the house without coffee?

  22. MikeF74 says:

    The ‘Pico de Gallo” result isn’t surprising at all considering the voting forms didn’t have a link to the video at first. I know when I filled out the forms, I didn’t vote for videos I couldn’t watch. Having never seen the commercial on television, it wasn’t in the running for me.

  23. suez says:

    I think it’s a no-win situation–they ALL suck.

  24. ThatsWhatSheSaid says:

    i hate that mcdonalds dude, id like to punch him in the face, and j.g wenworth dont even get me started, worst commercial ive ever seen i cannot stand him, if he didnt wake up tomorrow id be cool with that

  25. topgun says:

    I regret I didn’t campaign for Keystone Beers Kieth Stone. I could still submit his picture to Wikipedia for the phrase “White Trash”.

    • cash_da_pibble says:

      But Keith Stone- He’s so smooth!

      I actually like the “Kiki in the tree” one, pretty funny.

  26. chuckdaddy says:

    hated the “feed the pig” ads. wonder how it would’ve done in this poll

  27. chuckdaddy says:

    hated the “feed the pig” ads. wonder how it would’ve done in this poll

  28. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I liked Staples old “most wonderful time of the year” commercial – at the least the first few times I saw it.

  29. MrEvil says:

    That WOW, THAT’S A LOW PRICE GUY! were he to be shopping next to me would have been stabbed in the mouth….repeatedly.

  30. HoJu says:

    Seriously? The toilet paper bears talking about getting lint on their asses? THATS not the worst ad in America???

  31. chaesar says:

    WOW! That guy is annoying!

  32. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I bet the Chase one would have come in higher had the video been available earlier.

  33. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    Wow, that’s a BAD AD!

  34. legolex says:

    I can’t believe that squealing piggy didn’t get 100% of the votes.

    • FaustianSlip says:

      I kind of love the little piggy; it must be the way he’s holding those pinwheels in his little feet. The commercial itself is hilarious, too, so that certainly helps, whereas the Staples one is just stupid.

  35. Mundo says:

    For everyone who voted for the McDonald’s jerkface, I love you. I really, REALLY do.

  36. kataisa says:

    What’s sad is that we can expect to see more obnoxious commercials like this one in the future. The marketing people think it’s good for business if you hate their commercials because it’s “brand imprinting” or whatever, even if it’s negative.

    The role of the obnoxious in modern advertising.

    • richcreamerybutter says:

      The same brand recognition can be achieved with entertaining, enjoyable commercials.

      I feel like my career has been spent listening to the marketing department talk down to me about creative and usability differences for which, over the long term, I always end up in the right. I personally interview a range of subjects while they’re working from 2nd or 3rd hand “statistics.”

  37. enabler says:

    I was ready to vote for Flo, but the Staples ad is so much worse… which is really saying something.

    Michelin’s roadkill is absolutely horrifying, btw.

  38. diasdiem says:

    Wow. I actually haven’t seen most of these. What a difference not having cable makes.

  39. gogo8675309 says:

    I would have said the Microsoft Kin commercial was the most annoying, but luckily that one went away.

    I’m really tired of the Flo commercials too. I wonder what that lady’s daily life is like… Pretty much everyone with a tv has seen her.

  40. Shmoodog says:

    Horrible. Just horrible. Another clear indication that when America swings left, I go right. I can’t BELIEVE the majority of people voted for those winners/losers. I don’t understand a single one. How did “Mr. Opportunity, I’m knocking” not win EVERYTHING?

    I’m disgusted. Americans en masse disgust me.

  41. Trae says:

    In defense of the Newly weds… my wife and I totally went through all the cards we got on our wedding night like that (we had an early afternoon wedding – so even with a long reception, it was still pretty early in the evening)

  42. crazydavythe1st says:

    I KNEW the General would fall hard. It’s a random mascot that has absolutely nothing to do with anything and it’s genuinely annoying.

    I’m shocked by Staples’s win though. I don’t watch that much TV so maybe it only gets annoying with frequent viewings, but I definitely laughed the first time I saw that. I laughed at HEB’s parody of it that they showed for a few weeks too. and JG Wentworth is kind of amusing. As far as advertising goes it works too. I can pull their phone number off the top of my head having never called them.

  43. Warble says:

    I have to wonder how much frequency of play influenced people’s opinions. I watch all of my television online, with a healthy dose of Adblock, and so I had seen very few of these ads and watched most of them for the first time when I was deciding who to vote for. I think my choices would have differed a lot if I’d been forced to watch all of these ads repeatedly over weeks. (For example, The General just seemed like a sad local ad, and nowhere near as offensive as the Geico squealing pig, but if I’d been watching both of them for a month, my opinion might shift.)

    As it is, I did a decent job of guessing second placers, I suppose.

  44. davidsco says:

    Worst thing about the Staples ad: Their prices SUCK!

  45. JoeTaxpayer says:

    Who knew “cath” was a verb? Not I or me.

  46. Kristoffer says:

    Someone has probably already mentioned this about the catheter commercial but I haven’t had a chance to read through them all… But…..

    “I had to re-use catheters for the rest of my life” – Huh? Because she is talking in past tense about the rest of her life wouldn’t that imply that she is dead? If she said “I will have to re-use catheters for the rest of my life” or “I have had to reuse catheters for the past 2 years” – that would make sense. But based on what she says – she is dead from reusing catheters.

  47. nacoran says:

    The animal playing the harmonica in the Michelin ad is playing the wrong side of the harmonica.

  48. fuceefacee says:

    I’ve never actually seen the winner Staples on TV. But watching it online, I can see why i t won.

  49. Sian says:

    Congrats to Staples. Now, the easily-impressed customer ads weren’t the most annoying, nor the stupidest, not as ads, they were just the worst, a combination of terribly delivered false excitement along with general inaccuracy (I’ve personally never seen anything at Staples that I couldn’t get elsewhere for less, ESPECIALLY printer ink) put it over the edge.

  50. gman863 says:

    — H-E-B Food/Drug in Texas ran a hilarious back-to-school ad that satarized Staples, featuring an H-E-B employee in an office supply store yelling, “WOW! That’s a HIGH price!”. I haven’t been able to find it on YouTube; however if you find it it’s a good 30-second laugh.

    — The squealing pig is soooo bad and the Cavemen are well past their 15 minutes of fame. My ultimate fantasy is an ad where the Quizno kittens eat the Gecko, scratch the crap out of Flo and finally climb up the legs and under the kilts of the Capitol One Viking Village People, giving them The Bob Barker Treatment.

    — I must be one of the few who thinks the J.G. Wentworth ad is actually funny. Couldn’t The Consumerist have nominated Vince (I got SLAP-CHOPped by a hooker) instead?

  51. jshier says:

    Now that I’ve watched that catheter commercial on YouTube, I keep getting graphic catheter insertion videos recommended. Gah.

  52. i'mthinkinghere says:

    My husband hates that Staples commercial so much that he actually wrote an e-mail to Staples a few months ago complaining about it. Better yet, someone responded and apologized that the commercial offended him.

  53. SugarMag says:

    Did anyone see the McDonald’s jerk face in Shit My Dad says last night?
    He was still kinda annoying…and a pansy.

    He’s very tall. He should seek out a manly role sometime soon.

  54. Mythandros says:

    Personally.. the single most annoying and angering commercial on TV for me is that idiotic Rogers commercial where the girl insists on using the guys phone to update facebook, and then she says he doesn’t matter when her friend calls her on her dates phone.

    If I were in that situation, I’d take my phone back immediately and tell her to hit the bricks.

  55. BewareofZealots says:

    Should do brackets and have them compete like NCAA Basketball.

  56. MishunAcomplisht says:

    I now reserve the right to repeat the same behavior of “WOW, that’s a (insert whatever obnoxious statement here) at the cashier’s and employees faces at full volume in Staples stores.

    You see, this is the way to punish companies with offensive marketing. Make the employees hate their lives and then tell them “well, it’s in YOUR fukking ad! Deal!”

    I think it would be further fun to record the obnoxious ad and set up one of those robocaller devices to call the creators of such ads (agencies) with their own jerky ad until they scream begging apologies but somehow never found the time to do it. Sigh.

    Same trick might also be fun leveled at the personal assistants to the CEOs, or the CEO’s cell phone numbers which would hopefully end up guaran-fukkin-teeing that the marketing whizzes will NEVER be used by the company again.

    • MishunAcomplisht says:

      I further vote for a federal law that the phone number and names of the original creators of each ad are displayed on the last few frames so the creators can own responsibility (get punished back in spades) for their “creations”.

      There would be no need for surveys, there would be no doubt about 5 minutes after the first run as to the success or failure of the campaign.

  57. savage1 says:

    Those are some irritating commercials but they in no way compare to the creepiness and ickyness of the Charmin commercials. I mean come on… We all know what a bear does in the woods. Nice pick up on that old saying but… do we need to have it thrown in our faces so graphically? Hey! look at lil boo boo bear! He has toilet paper chunks stuck to his backside! Oops!! Looks like Papa bear doesn’t know how to wipe! Better get the Charmin! Yuck.