Saturday, February 2, 2013

Top 10 Worst Super Bowl Ads of All Time




Super Bowl Sunday: A magical time of year when those that love both football and humorous advertisements are unable to go to the bathroom for almost four hours. 

Fortunately for me, my beloved Falcons were bounced from the playoffs in the conference championships, thus giving me the bitterness and indifference needed to relieve myself in the middle of a 4-and-goal play if needed. 

There is no way, however, that I will take my eyes off the screen during the commercials. Despite the inevitable let down and plethora of early online releases and "leaks", I'm still sucker for a great event-level advertisement...even if it's simply to hate-watch some of the terrible ones that slip through a company's marketing and finance people.

The following are RamblingBeachCat.com's Top 10 worst Super Bowl advertisements of all time.



10. General Motors: Robot 





This 2007 GM ad starts off with an interesting premise, but quickly takes a turn into some very dark territory. A robot is shown making a mistake while working on a car assembly, which causes him (it?) to lose his job.

The next few scenes show our downtrodden mechanical unit wandering the streets alone and unsuccessfully attempting to find and sustain another career for himself while Eric Carmen's 'All By Myself' plays in the background. 

After seeing wave upon wave of the GM cars he used to help build pass him by, the robot decides that he doesn't want to exist in this world anymore commits suicide by jumping off a bridge. The ad then quickly cuts to a scene of the robot waking up, revealing that it was only a dream (and that robots employed by GM are so stressed out that they fantasize about killing themselves).

The commercial angered suicide prevention groups, who quickly pressured GM to into changing the ending.

I'm not really sure how a robot trying to end its own life via water impact and long term rusting is supposed to make me want to buy a car...though to be fair, the ad stills resonates with me a little bit. When I see lots of people buying cars made by GM, it makes me want to jump off a bridge, too.



9. GoDaddy.com: Too Hot for TV




GoDaddy.com could end up on this list multiple times, but their 2010 Super Bowl ad epitomizes all that is wrong with every nearly ad that they make: Danica Patrick reading her lines like an automated answering service, a "twist" you see coming a mile away (or that is just plain stupid), and a tease for SUPER SEXY UNRATED WEB CONTENT...which never ends up being any good and makes you feel stupid and pathetic for going to their site and watching it.

But this one really kicks things up a notch with the web only version (which is embedded above). The television spot teased viewers with a female reporter about to do a seductive dance for Danica to show her the very definition of "too hot for TV."

Unfortunately, her bizarre antics and facial expressions make the commercial feel more like a cautionary tale about the dangers of over dosing on meth amphetamines.



8. Salesgenie.com: Success




As consumers, most of us hold a very high capacity for stupidity (even if we don't want to admit it). Still, I'd like to think that by 2007, when Salesgenie ran their "Success" spot, we'd get a little bit of credit for being able to spot an advertising cliche or two.

This commercial, however, has just about every one in the book. Apparently if you use Salesgenie to help you find sales leads, you'll get an awesome red sports car, become attractive to members of the opposite sex, earn praise (and a dinner invitation) from your boss, and live in a huge house.

But if you don't use Salesgenie, you'll be bad at your job, go completely bald, and not be able to play golf with your friend who has perfect hair (and is probably a real life version of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho).




7. Dirt Devil: Fred Astaire




10 years after his death in 1987, Dirt Devil digitally brought Fred Astaire back to life to sell their new Broom Vac...by dancing with it.

Along with potentially creating mass confusion among older viewers, this commercial felt a little bit tacky. It also caused a rift in Astaire's surviving family; his wife had sold the licensing rights because she believed it was "what Fred would have wanted,"

His daughter, on the other hand, was understandably sickened by site of her dead father dancing on screen with a household cleaning product.

She also took the easy set up the company's name gave her, stating that her father's career had been "sold to the devil."



6. Groupon: Save The Money (Tibet)



In 2011, Groupon decided to make its foray into televised advertising on the biggest stage possible. Their idea was to have celebrities start things off with what looked like a PSA for various important causes, but then abruptly switch into an endorsement of people coming together to help themselves instead.

It was risky advertising territory to say the least. And when actor Timothy Hutton (the main guy from Leverage) did a spot that seemed to make light of the oppressed people of Tibet, people were pretty ticked off.

To Groupon's credit, they did set up donation links to every cause that they made fun of in their commercials...although their stock price still seems to have experienced some pretty bad karma before finally rebounding this year.




5. Bud Light: Classroom




The first problem with this 2007 ad is the fact that a lesson on ways to ask for and deny beer to others in various, over done accents is being taught inside of a classroom. But any weirdness from that set up is quickly overshadowed by the commercial's content and its pitch man: Carlos Mencia

You would think that it would be an impossibly redundant task to make yourself into an unfunny version of George Lopez. But somehow, Mencia does it.

In this commercial, we find him in his usual comfort zone of joking about various racial stereotypes. Aside from the fact that the ad isn't funny at all, its cringe factor is even worse when you consider the fact that the bit part players are better at being funny than the actual comedian who is playing off of them.





4. Lifeminders.com




The whole "not an ad" ad technique can work really well if it's done right: Fedex did one of the best ones you'll ever see back in 1998. But in 2000, Lifeminders.com took the premise from an exercise in meta sales pitching to an act of unspeakable pain and suffering.

They start off by telling you that this is "the worst commercial on the Super Bowl," followed by explaining their bizarre business model (sending you streams of emails about things that you might be interested in) and why it's not spam.

All this is being displayed as black text against a yellow background while Chopsticks is played on an out of tune piano by what you have to imagine is a very angry or child or incredibly intelligent cat.

Any inclination you may have had to give the company the benefit of the doubt (and sign up to have them flood your inbox) is quickly washed away by the 30 second assault on your senses that a start up company paid millions of dollars to inflict upon a massive audience.




3. Salesgenie.com: Pandas




Not even the inherent adorableness of pandas could save Salesgenie from themselves (and making the list for a second time). This 2008 ad features a family of cheaply produced cartoon Pandas that use Salesgenie to help them with their bamboo furniture business.

They also exhibit stereotypical Chinese accents and mannerisms, which are portrayed so badly that even Mickey Rooney would have felt uncomfortable watching it.




2. Apple: Lemmings



This one was so bad that it already warranted its own post here before.

In 1984, Apple premiered what many still consider to be the greatest televised advertisement of all time.  This commercial, which was directed by Ridley Scott and aired aired during the 1984 Superbowl, was aptly named 1984 (which was a fairly obvious reference to the George Orwell novel of the same name).

It was supposed to represent the individualism of Apple (in the form of a hot chick with a hammer) fighting against conformity or "The Man." Even though the creators of the ad denied targeting IBM as the enslaving overlord figure, Steve Jobs pretty much said that's totally who they were talking about.

In 1985, Apple once again tried to catch some dystopian future magic with their new 'Lemmings' commercial. But instead of featuring a powerful individual overcoming conformity, it had men in business suits marching to their deaths while an off-key version of Heigh-Ho played in the background.

Apple may get a lot of crap for its "only true individuals use our products" message, but that's still much better than the "buy our products or you might kill yourself" message they seemed to be going for here.



1. Just For Feet: Kenya Mission



In 1999, rapidly growing shoe retailer Just For Feet hired the Saatchi & Saatchi ad firm to put the company on the world stage with their first Super Bowl commercial spot.


What they came up with was a bunch of white guys in military gear hunting a black barefoot runner in Kenya. They give him water that is laced with a knock-out drug, wait till he is unconscious, and then force a pair of shoes on his feet. When the runner wakes up, he (along with every capital investor in the shoe company) screams in terror and runs off while trying to get rid of the unwanted footwear that has been forced upon him.

As you might imagine, the backlash generated by this ad was pretty severe; Salon.com even referred to it as "the ad from hell". But the perhaps the best description came from the Des Moines Register, who stated that the commercial was "...something that makes Denny’s and Texaco look like abolitionists.”


The ad was so poorly received that Just For Feet actually sued Saatchi and Saatchi (the case was later dropped) before eventually filing for bankruptcy later that year due to rampant accounting fraud...and probably a bit of bad brand awareness that they paid a few million to get.



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