While we all have that one friend who is constantly littering our Facebook timelines with YouTube links to “Hilarius!” [sic] commercials, most of us hate advertisements. Even the ones that are funny or interesting the first time you see them will inevitably begin to grate after you see it for the 10th time in an hour. But some ads never even earn that initial chuckle, and instead go right to pushing that nerve that makes you want to body-slam your beloved 55″ TV.
Last week, we asked you to send in your nominations for the worst ads of 2013, and many of you took precious time out of your holiday weekend to share your thoughts on the commercials most deserving of public shaming.
Okay, okay, I’ve gone on long enough… just bring on the bad ads.
• Badvertiser of the Year: Kmart
It hasn’t exactly been a blue-light special year for the once-popular bargain retailer. Not only did Sears’ ugly little cousin earn heaps of hate for idiotically choosing to open before breakfast on Thanksgiving, it also had three of the most-nominated ads from Consumerist readers.
Kmart’s ill-advised attempt at mixing adolescent genital jokes and sexy male dancers resulted in the commercial with the highest number of nominations, the so-called “Jingle Balls” spot featuring Joe Boxer undies:
The Joe Boxer ad wasn’t Kmart’s first go at juvenile humor in 2013. The retailer began its “edgy” ads in the spring with the derision-deserving “Ship My Pants” ad:
Finally, Kmart really earned its Badvertiser of the Year honor by closing out 2013 with a series of ads that capture that whole “GIF” craze that someone at Kmart’s ad agency presumably heard about from her brother’s 13-year-old daughter… in 2011:
• Special Achievement in Badvertising Award: GEICO
While GEICO didn’t have any single ad that rose to the top of the nominations pile, the insurance company did have the widest variety of ads nominated — probably because GEICO has at least four different ad series that it is flogging to death on American TV.
The most-hated of GEICO’s many, many spokesthings wasn’t the gecko or the pig, but the schticky folk duo inexplicably placed into ads to explain the poor jokes contained therein. And when you add them to the most obnoxious dromedary to ever roam the cubicles, you get this special taste of hell:
We wouldn’t be shocked if that loudmouth camel becomes a full-fledged GEICO mascot. Just look at what the company has done with the pig that some people claimed to have enjoyed from that one commercial several years back. Now it’s driving, flying on planes, attending sporting events, and getting involved in romantic relationships with human females:
Then there’s the latest addition to GEICO’s rogues gallery of shills, the “Did You Know” ads, where people try to make up for stating the company’s old marketing language by making utterly moronic statements:
There’s also the gecko, but the less said about that animated turd the better.
• Humbert Humbert Award for Stepdad of the Year: Kay Jewelers — “Open Hearts”
This creeptastic ad, featuring a soon-to-be stepdad giving a young girl the same diamond necklace he’s already given to her mom, first popped up toward the end of 2012 then quickly disappeared, presumably because Kay realized the horrifying subtext of the ad. Nope. The bling retailer was just saving it up to ick out the public again this holiday season.
Says Consumerist reader MJ, “What they don’t show you is the next scene, in which the mom dies after running out into traffic.”
• The Pedestrians Be Damned Award: Zales — “Race to Black Friday”
Perhaps the car that eventually runs over the mom in the above Kay Jewelers commercial was driven by the idiot in this short Zales ad for Black Friday:
• The “We Don’t Think That’s What You Meant To Say” Award: Chevy — “Second to Nobody”
Do you have that friend who says “penultimate” when he means ultimate? Or that co-worker who thinks “lucked out” means you’re out of luck? Maybe he or she got a job writing ad copy for Chevrolet, because we don’t think that this Silverado ad was meant to imply that Chevy is in third place behind Dodge Ram and Ford:
• The Shove This Down Your Throat Award: Wendy’s
Forget that sketchy kid hanging around the playground trying to get your kid to smoke a cigarette. There’s a bigger danger in town — the Wendy’s shill who pops up everywhere people are trying to eat, but who rarely seems to be eating (though we’ve seen her do a horrendous job of faking it at least once).
Says reader Emily of the following ad, in which “Wendy” sexualizes a burger on a brioche bun for a drooling male, “I always had a hunch that this chick was some sort of skinny feeder who gets off on watching her friends get fat while she remains skinny. This just confirms it.”
• Achievement in Abuse of Long-Form Advertising: Samsung — “Geared Up”
After years of iPhone dominance in the smartphone market, the Samsung Galaxy series proved that an Android brand could stand out from the crowd to compete. At the same time, the company used this 2:30 ad to demonstrate that it should probably keep its trap shut and just let the product sell itself.
“I had thought about getting a Galaxy Watch,” comments Consumerist reader George. “Then I saw this ad and didn’t want people to assume I was a stalkerish a-hole who hounds an obviously uninterested woman into giving him her phone number.”
• Failed Attempt at Coining a Punny Catchphrase, Electronics Division: Microsoft — “Scroogled”
Getting the public to latch on to your marketing language is the dream of every ad copywriter, but it helps if your attempt at introducing that catchphrase doesn’t result in everyone watching pointing out that your company is just as guilty of the same sketchy practices you’re accusing your competitor of:
• Failed Attempt at Coining a Punny Catchphrase, Food Division: Yoplait — “Swapportunity”
It also helps if your catchphrase isn’t awkward to say and likely to earn blank stares from anyone you attempt to use it on:
• Meet the New Flo Award for Loudmouth Spokesperson Who Needs to Just Back Off a Bit: The Phillips Colon Health Lady
Because there is nothing more appropriate than loudly speaking about intestinal distress on crowded buses, planes and other public places, Phillips introduces the Colon Health Lady.
Says Consumerist reader Todd, “I think this might be a good commercial because I feel sick to my stomach after every time the Colon Health Lady pops up.”
• The “This is Why We Hate You” Award: Lexus — “Red Ribbon 2013”
In 200 years, future post-apocalyptic generations will tell tales of the decadent 21st century, in which people in gaudily huge houses not only presented each other with overpriced Toyotas, but also topped these deluxe wheels with a tacky red ribbon.
While Lexus’s red-ribbon ads have long earned boos from the public, this year’s Christmas commercial took the notion to new aspirational heights, with the impossibly handsome couple handcrafting a sparkling red ribbon to adorn the three gifted vehicles (yes, three cars) parked outside a mammoth house that might be an appropriate size for the Earl of Grantham:
• The “We Just Discovered Auto-Tune” Award: (TIE) Yoplait & McDonald’s
The yogurty yahoos at Yoplait earn their second award with this ad that had to have been made back in 2005 when Auto-Tune and crowd-sourced advertising was still in vogue:
Then there’s this McDonald’s ad featuring future Bieber-esque burnout Austin Mahone, demonstrating that he can neither sing nor stay focused on the task at hand:
• The Mute Button Award for Worst Original Jingle: WeBuyAnyCar.com
For years, daytime TV viewers have been scrambling for the remote every time they sense this commercial is about to launch into one of the most ear-destroying songs you’ll never be able to get out of your head. Today, it finally gets the recognition it truly deserves:
• The “Mangle That Tune” Award for Horrid Cover Versions of Existing Songs: Party City
Every big party season, the folks at Party City cue up some already overplayed song, change the lyric to be more party-centric, then unleash it upon the public until TV viewers’ minds turn into brain pudding.
The most cited example of Party City’s crimes against the eardrums was this tortured version of the Mambo No. 5:
Thanks to everyone who helped by nominating the ads they loathed the most in 2013, even those whose nominations didn’t make the cut. There were many, many more ads that deserved demerits this year and we wish we had time to call them all out. But if we did that, we’d be here until next New Year’s Eve.