Jan 9, 2009

Bad Commercials from Big Brands

Most of the time I focus on commercials that I believe are good examples of well thought strategies or creative thinking, but let's face it, TV time is full of mediocre ads and we are exposed to a good share of real bad commercials too.

Without entering in the realm of the infomercials (I consider those a whole different thing) it still amazes me to see how big brands with good budgets go out there with crappy commercials.

Last year wasn't different from previous ones and a share of mediocre commercials flood our TV... but let's see, which ones were the really bad ads when it comes to the big brands? Disclaimer: I am not judging production but strategies or ideas -because while a bad production is a big flaw-, a bad strategy is even worst.

The pole position goes, without any doubt, to the ARBY'S "Happy Birthday" commercial that is still airing. Each time I see it, I can't help but ask myself what those guys were thinking. By "those guys" I am talking not just about their advertising agency but also about the internal team responsible of approving that commercial.

For those that have not seen it, here is the commercial:

I mean..., no one really noticed that their logo is phallic in nature? That the logo "getting up" may not be a good idea specially considering is over a man lying on a bed that gets "excited" when his girlfriend comes with the food? Now, let's say it is the other way around and because they noticed they thought it was a funny joke... do you really think is a good idea to have your sandwiches related to a penis? Really?

I have to admit Arby's is not my favorite fast food chain to start with but after seeing that commercial (and sooo many times!) any little appeal they may have had is gone. Hey, I have nothing against sex, but penises and sandwiches just don't mix well for me.

# 2 - AmEx Business Card

This case is a bit more subtle but still I think that the strategy behind it is really poor. Again for those that have not seen it here is one of ads of this campaign:

At a time where some other cards are offering customization, American Express Business has nothing better to say that "we do not give customization"? REALLY?

I think that any grown up knows that it may be better to have an American Express Business Card than a Capital One but the "serious business" image is not in the design of the card it is in the name. Each time I see that commercial I think that what American Express is saying is something like: "We are old school, we do not know what this customization era means, we are the plain old grumpy business type". For not saying that if I had a business around comics (that it is serious business, believe me!) having a card with a superhero on it may be a great idea.

When it comes to position #3 I have too many to choose from. Hillary's "3 am call" may be one (I am not going to talk about how bad the GOPs ads were, that would be too easy for me). I personally find the King campaign from Burger King just creepy but I know that is a bit subjective. I am also tempted to include here the commercials that play on "woman=bitch; man=wimp" like the Cheerios one or the so celebrate viral "Doghouse" from JCPenney. But as I said before all these cases (maybe with the exception of Hillary's) are not so much horrible strategies or ideas, just a matter of taste. The same way I don't like women to be treated like stupid, I don't like men portrayed as wimps.

So let's say I am undecided about the third place...

Do you have a commercial in mind that you think should take the third place? One that you truly hate or that you find unbearable? Let me know we are looking for submissions!

1 comment:

btobey said...

For more on bad commercials, check out Pointless Planet: