Sprint’s “Framily,” NFL’s Family Of Disloyal Fans Lead List Of 2014’s Worst Ads

There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about what exactly constitutes a “family” in a time when people can have deeply felt connections with those they’ve never met while simultaneously having no meaningful relationships with their kin in the next room. But regardless of how they define familial relations, Consumerist readers have resoundingly let it be known that there were two advertising families that they wanted nothing to do with in 2014.

We recently asked readers to nominate their most-hated ads from the past year, and the two ads that were most frequently cited in the nominations involved very different, but equally obnoxious, portrayals of family life.

THE FAIRWEATHER FAN FAMILY
The most-nominated ad this year — and one that found little love in the Consumerist Cave — was this treacly bit of nonsense from the NFL, which was presumably intended to show how families can stick together through the changes but which really highlights a group of people with no firm convictions (at least with regard to football):

Many readers were incredibly annoyed by the fickle fandom demonstrated by this family.

“You’re not a ‘Vikings family,’ or even a family of football fans, if EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOUR KIDS changes the team they root for,” wrote Sue in nominating this ad. “Especially if they suddenly change affiliations based on silly things like where you go to college and who you date. Have a backbone or just admit that you’re a fairweather fan.”

“I’m a Giants fan who married a Jets fan,” opines Sam, “I love my wife, but it would take an act of God to get me into a Jets jersey.”

By far the most hatred was reserved for the daughter who ditched her supposed love for the Vikes and became a Dallas Cowboys fan simply because Emmitt Smith took a photo with her.

“If that’s the criteria, then I guess I’m now a fan of the Montreal Alouettes because I got Chad Johnson’s autograph once,” rants reader Mark.

Many readers felt like the ad — which dropped the reference to controversial Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in later airings — embodies the NFL’s obsession with selling as much branded merchandise as possible to casual followers, perhaps to the detriment of the sport and hardcore fans.

ALL IN THE FAMILY; NONE IN THE FRAMILY

Sprint began 2014 by launching “Framily” plans — a not terribly clever portmanteau of “friends” and “family” — which would have been fine if it hadn’t been for the deliberately outré ads used to promote them.

How could it not work? A talking hamster voiced by Andrew “Dice” Clay; a francophile daughter constantly surrounded by fluttering, chirping animated bluebirds; a younger man dressed like your grumpy old neighbor from 1976; pop-locking goth guy “Gore-Don”; and actual funny actor Judy Greer, who hopefully got paid a king’s ransom for being a part of this menagerie.

“Sprint was delusional, thinking they could sell people on a crappy service with ‘quirky’ commercials,” wrote reader Mary Anne in her nomination of the Framily ads. “But I don’t give a good goddamn about funny when I pick a cellphone plan. I just want something that works.”

Even after Sprint dropped the whole Framily idea, it continued to spoil the airwaves and do damage to Judy Greer’s career with this ear-splittingly shrieky commercial that was also among the most-mentioned by Consumerist readers:

THE MOST INSUFFERABLE AUNT ON THE PLANET AWARD

Admit it — you really don’t like your dad’s sister. She dresses like she lives in Grey Gardens and thinks she has a good grasp on all things European. Every time this aunt can’t make it to Thanksgiving, your night is much more pleasant. Too bad she’s starring in an ad for American Signature.

The hatred for this ad, whose only hook is a woman who repeatedly mispronounces “chaise,” was so laser-focus that some readers simply wrote “chaiiiiisssssse” in their e-mails with the understanding that we’d know exactly what they were talking about.

THE AWARD FOR BROTHER WHO RUNS EVERY OLD JOKE INTO THE GROUND

GEICO — last year’s Badvertiser of the Year — continued to receive snorts of derision for its “Hump Day” camel ad that inspired countless boorish co-workers around the world to shout out “Guess what day it is!” every Wednesday:

It’s so bad that even GEICO acknowledged its part in creating an army of clueless types who repeat catchphrases from commercials:

Writes Sean, “The people in my office that do the ‘hump day!’ thing are the same ones that are still doing unsolicited Gollum and Butthead impressions.”

THE CREEPY UNCLE AWARD

Do you have that uncle or family friend who talks too close to your face and always seems to be coming off a bender (or just beginning one)? That’s who German travel site Trivago decided should be the face of their U.S. launch, with his bedhead hair and two-days’ growth of facial, smooth-talking his way into your travel plans:

The grey-shirted, globetrotting ladies man has become the subject of numerous parodies, including this scarily accurate one:

THE COUSIN YOU DON’T TALK ABOUT AWARD

The Trivago Guy uncle isn’t so bad that you don’t invite him to family functions, but some families have that one cousin who is always conveniently left off the list because he’s going to say or do something that will really frighten or upset everyone. That’s the way that many of you described the guy in this Hanes “kitten shirt” ad:

And the rest of our worst ad honors for 2014….

PUN-ISHING ATTEMPTS AT CREATING A CATCHPHRASE

We’ve already seen how poorly “framily” was accepted, but that’s just one of many pun-tastic marketing ploys that failed to impress Consumerist readers in 2014.

There was Lysol’s attempt to cram “Healthing” into the lexicon:

And Robitussin’s “Coughequences” ads didn’t really catch fire:

Let’s not forget Verizon’s “half-fast” commercials, which belong in the Juvenile Wordplay Hall of Fame with “Sofa King” —

MUSIC FOR THOSE WHO HATE THEIR EARDRUMS

The folks at Charter merited two entries in this category for an almost avant garde attempt at hip-hop with these jingles for its Double Play and Triple Play packages:

Weight Watchers won over few fans with this depressing rewrite of a classic kids song:

And then there was the bizarrely uptempo and undoubtedly overlong jingle from Wayfair:

We spent hours trying to figure out what the Wayfair ad reminded us of, and then we realized it sounds too much like the theme from long-forgotten ’90s sitcom Grand:

DO YOU NEED TO BORROW A FEW DOLLARS?

We received a lot of nominations for ads featuring celebrities… and also several for this blu e-cig ad featuring Stephen Dorff:

More perplexing are the ads starring celebrities who are still considered A-listers. Many readers, even some who claim to be Amy Poehler fans, were perplexed and annoyed by her appearance in a series of commercials for Old Navy. Most haters singled out this particular ad as their least favorite:

SADDEST ATTEMPT TO RESURRECT A COMPETITOR’S CAMPAIGN

It wasn’t all that long ago that a not-yet-famous John Hodgman and that guy from the fourth Die Hard movie who sort of looks like Zach Braff were doing the “I’m a Mac…I’m a PC” shtick in a seemingly endless series of commercials for Apple.

So it seemed odd and a bit self-defeating to many readers when they saw that Microsoft was trying a similar approach to sell its Surface tablets. The side-by-side comparisons on a white screen, products talking to each other.

Initially the ads were merely boring, rehashing the same points Microsoft has been making about the Surface since it launched.

But then Microsoft unleashed this dissonant beast of a Surface ad, just in time to irk enough people into nominating it for this year’s worst-of list:

That’s not to say that Apple didn’t also indulge in an obnoxiously loud, white-backgrounded campaign for its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The following spot was the only one of the Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake iPhone commercials to result in a handful of nominations:

That’s it. There were many more nominations that we just didn’t have room for this year. Not to worry — there are no signs that 2015 will be any improvement over 2014. If anything, TV commercials will probably just get even louder and creepier in the hopes of getting any attention from viewers skimming past them on their DVRs.