Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Madness

In honour of today's royal wedding, Commercial Disasters takes on a decidedly British perspective by focusing on this disastrous Colgate advert from the UK.

Not only do they heavily bastardize the look and feel of 80's ska band Madness (even ripping off the tune of their song 'Baggy Trousers'), which is certainly enough to upset every Madness fan out there, but their over-exaggerated sets, props, and choreography are obnoxious enough to drive the rest of us to madness too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Yeah, the first thing you do when your house is on fire is call your insurance agent, not GET OUT OF THE HOUSE AND DIAL 911!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Only 8 Shopping Months Left Until Christmas

Wow... uh... just, wow. Virtually every shot in this commercial is a definition of disaster. The music is equally as obnoxious. (What happened, Rebecca Black's "Friday" wasn't available? I'd like to hear a Snuggified version of that.) Little known fact, the guy assigned to edit this commercial was committed to an asylum shortly after completing this commercial.

It's hard to decide what the most disastrous moment of this commercial is. There are plenty to choose from. My vote goes to the guy looking at the magazine centerfold of a Snuggie. Wow. What gets your vote as the most disastrous moment?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Taylor Lautner Eats Frosted Flakes (and Sorta Plays Baseball)

Blink and you might miss it, but that's a young Taylor Lautner starring in this commercial disaster. (He's the kid in the glory shot eating the cereal.)

I'm not going to rag on everybody's favorite werewolf for starring in this commercial disaster, because practically every actor starts in commercials, especially when they start young. However, there are at least 4 major problems with this disaster...
  1. Since when is little league baseball practice a military boot camp? I don't remember any army-style chants in my little league experience.
  2. Aren't these kids a little too old to be hitting baseballs off of tees?
  3. In one of the shots (in fact, it's the poster frame for the video), the players are running the wrong way around the bases. I know this is a training drill, but shouldn't one of their top priorities be teaching these kids the basic fundamentals of baseball?
  4. I'm pretty sure eating a big sugary bowl of Frosted Flakes is frowned upon by most baseball coaches, especially AT A TEAM MEAL!
How many more problems can you spot?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

On the Other Hand...

Unlike the last post, there is nothing subtle about this disaster. This monstrosity (pun intended) was a "sweepstakes" spot that ran before the movie on the VHS release of Little Monsters starring Fred Savage and Howie Mandel (circa 1990). I put "sweepstakes" in quotation marks because it's really nothing more than a (very) transparent attempt to swindle parents out of money at the hands of their kids. I mean, what kid wouldn't want to call this 900 number? They make it look really fun and cool... and you can win prizes! Oh, sure, kids can enter to win the prizes by mailing in a postcard and all, but what restless kid is going to take the time to do all that when they can get the instant gratification of dialing the phone?

And did you notice how they charged per minute instead of per call? I'm sure once they got kids on the phone, they gave them all kinds of incentives to stay on the line for as loooong as possible. Of course, the chances of MGM's hustle being discovered in most households before the phone bill arrived was next to zero. What self-respecting adult is going to watch this abomination of a movie? And if they do -- if only to be a responsible parent and monitor what their kids are watching -- they would most certainly scan past all of the ads at the beginning of the movie. (Remember, this was before the days of DVDs that could prevent you from skipping the ads.) No, this scam was aimed squarely at the kids who watch and rewatch this movie when their parents aren't around.

If there's one thing that's more reprehensible than people who prey on the naiveté of kids, it's... no, wait... there's nothing more reprehensible than people who prey on the naiveté of kids.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Subtle Disaster

I'll admit, it took me two viewings to figure out what makes this spot a commercial disaster. At first glance, it basically looks like your average, run-of-the-mill local car dealer commercial, no more or less offensive than any other. But on closer inspection, I figured it out... Why is the kid in the bed fully clothed? I mean, the kid's wearing jeans and a polo shirt in the bed! Couldn't someone on the set at least have told him to take off the polo shirt and just wear the t-shirt he had on underneath during the bedroom scene?? I don't know, maybe that's just how they dress for bed in Southeast Texas. Makes me wonder what they wear in the shower.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ellen Loves Commercial Disasters Too

Ok, I don't know if Ellen has ever seen this site or not, but she recently featured this commercial disaster on her show, so who knows, maybe...

Nonetheless, the commercial disaster that has her talking is, in fact, a doozie. It falls into that category of direct response product that is both a lame product and a terrible commercial.

If you missed it, the most ridiculous moments come at the :11 mark, where the guy seems very pleased that he spilled coffee all over himself, and the :23 mark, when the mother rolls her eyes and looks very disgusted that her daughter got in the van. Guess we know who the black sheep in that family is!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tax Day (Almost)

In honor of tax day (yeah, I know the official tax deadline for this year isn't until Monday, but let's not split hairs, ok?), we take a look at a pair of commercials from Mo Money Tax Service.

I don't know about you, but these commercials don't make me feel very confident about entrusting my social security number and other vital financial information to these guys. What about you?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cleveland's 2nd Most Famous Celebrity

Furniture stores. They're some of the worst overall offenders when it comes to commercial disasters. Why? Because their products have one of the highest profit margins in the retail world, which means they have more money to burn on advertising time than most businesses. Unfortunately, they're some of the least creative people on the planet... otherwise, they wouldn't have become furniture salesmen.

This commercial is a prime example of that. At first glance, this disaster looks suspiciously like a skit making fun of furniture commercials and not an actual furniture commercial. But after doing some research, I discovered that the commercial, Norton Furniture, and its owner Marc Brown are all very real.

Which makes this spot all the more sad.

I'm not going to make fun of the guy's voice because, you know, that's biology. He can't do anything about that. (Even I admit I have a pretty unattractive speaking voice.) But he needs to pick up the pace or cut out some of the monologue. I started to doze off after the first sentence.

And the commercial really goes off the rails when the frog on the couch comes to life. A life-sized amphibian, a maniac with garden shears, dialogue you can't understand... it's like the nightmares I used to have as a kid after watching New Zoo Revue.

This commercial has been making the rounds on the internet for a few years, and has made Norton Furniture and Marc Brown something of a "cewebrity" (as I've heard it called). That's all well and good, and I'll laugh at the commercials (not in a good way) as much as the next guy, but sadly, I'd never take my business to an establishment that is so incredibly OUT THERE.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Direct Response 101

Direct response commercials have long been a staple of TV advertising. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, they're called "direct response" because they usually include a phone number or website whereby viewers contact the advertiser directly to order a product, rather than buying it in a store. Most direct response ads are revenue sharing opportunities for TV stations. That is, rather than buying the ad time from the TV station upfront like most "traditional" advertisers, direct response/revenue sharing advertisers usually share the profits with the TV station after each sale that is made. In other words, the TV station may or may not make any money from airing a direct response/revenue sharing commercial. That's why you mostly see them late at night, when a TV station has unsold ad time (and basically nothing to lose).

And generally, TV stations have complete control over which of these commercials they air and which ones they don't... Which makes it all the more puzzling how some of these commercials make it on the air. It's not that a lame product necessarily makes for a bad commercial. In fact, there are plenty of dumb direct response products that have commercials that fit in the "amazingly mediocre" category mentioned on the About page. However, it is entirely possible to have a lame product and a commercial disaster. This shameless pitch for a Vivitar 35mm film camera is a great example of that. (Here's a hint, dear advertiser, anyone who wants a poorly made 35mm camera still has the one they bought in 1983... and there's no shortage of them at Salvation Army either.)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Breath of Fresh Air

If you feel like you need to take a shower to wash off the sleaze from the lawyers in the last couple of posts, then here's a more lighthearted disaster to cleanse your palate. By comparison to the last few we've seen, this entry from McDonald's (circa 1988) seems almost quaint. Still, I would have loved to be on the set when the director told the actors, "I want you to prance around like a toddler in a ballet class."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lawyers: Round 2

If the last post wasn't enough to convince you that divorce lawyers are soulless, lecherous, bloodsucking lowlifes, this one will.

This guy is so insidious that I actually had to do some research to make sure he is for real and this wasn't an SNL skit or some YouTube parody. I guess I was hoping there some vestige of dignity left in humanity. If this guy is any indication, I was wrong.

(I will actually give this guy 1 point (on a scale of 0 to 100) for making me laugh with the "illiterate boob" line. Still, this guy's a waste of oxygen.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Everybody Loves a Lawyer (Not)

Lawyers have long been considered the lowest form of life with an advanced degree. (Somewhere just above the dung beetle.) After watching this commercial, it's easy to see why.

This commercial disaster begins by warning us that this is a dramatization. I hope so. I hate to think that there are two people in real life so devoid of any personality or authenticity. If this was a real couple so bitterly close to the brink of divorce and still sitting in the same room together, they'd be arguing so much you couldn't shut them up. And did you notice the husband snatches the remote away, but doesn't change the channel? Even if he didn't want to watch something different and he just has a manipulative compulsion to control the remote, if he hates his wife so much, he would change the channel just out of spite. Of course, the closing scramble for the phone looks like something straight out of a Marx Brothers movie and not a "dramatization". Oh, the unreality!

All this commercial manages to advertise is that its sponsor is a sleazy opportunist that is too cheap to spring for a writer or the luxury of a second take. Twenty bucks says this disaster was shot in less than an hour.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dateline: Australia, 1992

I know there are different standards for political correctness in every country. And this commercial was made almost 20 years ago. But I can't imagine who thought this was a good idea... in any time or place. At least we know now where George Lucas got his inspiration for Jar Jar Binks.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Approaching Disaster in 3... 2... 1

No, this isn't an April Fool's joke. There are real companies producing real commercials that are so bad they manage to assault our senses, insult our intelligence, and make us think, "Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea???"

All at the same time.

In short, these commercials are commercial disasters. And the first entry in my quest to explore commercial disasters is no exception. (If you don't die of a heart attack while watching this, there will be discussion afterwards.)

Yeah. Where to start the commentary on this one? First of all, a middle-aged white guy dressing and (over)acting like a very stereotyped pimp is never a good idea. Him rapping is even worse. Secondly, and back to the overacting, who taught these two how to perform in front of a camera, Jessica Alba? They're more wound up than basketball cheerleaders on amphetamines. Also, what's with the pie in the face? I realize that lots of local advertisers like to have a running gag or gimmick that they stick in all of their commercials, and that's probably what this is, but they need to realize that not only is this particular one incredibly dumb (pies in the face stopped being funny during Vaudeville), but it's even worse when it doesn't fit the context of the commercial it's in.

Of course, there's plenty more in this commercial that I could go on about, but I don't want to beat a dead horse. I'm sure we can all agree this is a complete commercial disaster.

It pains me that this commercial was made in my home state of Georgia.