Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Art of Subtlety

This dog has a bit of an idee fixe, can you tell what it is?

Clearly, this puppy is concerned about people's ass comfort. But are these situations really all that painful? Let us take a look at a couple of these peoples' positions that are just freaking this dog out:

People sitting on a ledge

Really? Doesn't seem that bad. Sitting on a stone ledge is a novelty -- it's better than, say, taking a seat on a pitchfork.

A kid squatting on a soccer ball

Actually, this wouldn't cause much ass pain. It might, however, be difficult to balance.

Someone falling while roller-blading

I'll give them the falling down thing. But, isn't falling down from roller-blading a more gluteal kind of pain, rather than the inner-ass pain you get from wiping with one-ply TP?

Family riding a see-saw

This is supposed to be a fun activity, and any posterior discomfort should be mitigated by the overall enjoyment of the ride.

A seated statue

FYI to Cottonelle: Statues do not feel pain.

Look, I appreciate the fact that you have to dance around certain subjects when you're advertising a personal care product like toilet paper. Clearly, other companies are guilty of the same approach. But having a puppy fetishisticly obsess over minor butt pain? The first time I saw this ad, I had no idea what the commercial was for until it ended. After I found out what it was for, I had no idea what the puppy's mission had to do with the "be kind to your behind" message.

Then there's the dog himself. Why did we need to give a perfectly adorable puppy such a cloyingly tacky voiceover? I can't find the "Mute" button fast enough when this commercial comes on. If you want to show a puppy because he's cute and soft, like your toilet paper, fine with me. But, for cripe's sake, don't make him out to be some butt perv -- just mention that your product won't tear up my ass, and let's get on with our lives.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hate to say I told you so

Usually, we here at The Ad Wizards don't talk much about the results of particular campaigns we've mocked, unless there's a specific impetus to do so in the comments section. We see an ad that we don't like, we hate it, we make fun of it, and we move on. However, given that I personally wrote about Wendy's "red wig" campaign on three separate occasions, I figured I might as well pass along the good news - Wendy's is giving up the fight.

The change comes after the chain reported this month that sales at stores opened at least a year — considered a key indicator of a retailer's strength — fell 0.8% at U.S. company restaurants in the fourth quarter compared with a 3.1% increase in the fourth quarter of 2006. At franchise restaurants, same-store sales were up 0.2% for the quarter, compared with a 2.7% increase the year before.

For the year, same-store sales rose 0.9% for company stores and 1.9% for franchise stores compared with a 0.8% increase in U.S. company stores and a 0.6% increase at U.S. franchise stores in 2006.

After reaching a high of $44.22 last summer, Wendy's stock price has been cut nearly in half, with trading Monday morning at $23.54, just above its 52-week low of $22.48.

We've said it all along - bad ads don't drive sales. People were aware of the Wendy's campaign, but they were aware of it in that "Hey, did you see that crazy ad with the wig dudes?" sense, not in the "Let's all go to Wendy's and get some burgers" sense, which is the one that you're more interested in if you're Wendy's. Ads like the infamous "Air Supply burger" spot (click the "occasions" link above) are too reliant on gimmick - even as the pitchman in that spot rattles off what is ostensibly a list of enticing ingredients, we're distracted by his stupid hair, douchetacular tone, and the confounding use of the singing burger just seconds later. Ultimately, you can barely even tell what it's an ad for; at least one person who read my post on the ad found it by Googling "burger king air supply ad," which I think tells you pretty much everything you need to know on the subject.

Wendy's replacement campaign, as announced at their convention Monday, is based around a cartoon Wendy and the slogan, "It's waaaay better than fast food. It's Wendy's." Personally, I find that slogan a little stupid, but it's at least an improvement - "That's right" is one of the worst slogans in modern times, in large part because it's so crushingly vague. ("That's right! We are called Wendy's!") And the animated character seems likely to indicate that the ads are going to be a lot more straightforward, making them much more inoffensive, which can only be a good thing. Although I was sort of hoping that Wendy's was going to choose my idea for the campaign, a digitally-altered Clara Peller dancing with a vacuum cleaner.

So, yeah. Not to toot our own horn too much - after all, we've cited Burger King four times since starting this blog, and they haven't had any problem with sales - but, well, we told you so, Wendy's. Best of luck with an improved campaign in 2008.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Super Bored XLII

We're super bored over here at Ad Wizards. Why? Because there haven't been many new, rotten ads recently. The reason for the dearth of rotten ads? Why, the Super Bowl, of course, which will take place just one week from today. Yes, it's the perennial battle of which massive corporation spent the most money to annoy the shit out of America. Also, I guess, the Patriots and Giants are playing for the NFL title (minor detail).

Following Sunday's game, we'll be writing up our reactions to the Super Bowl commercials and handing out the first annual Ad Wizards Super Bored Awards. Here's a quick preview of what we'll be giving next week, and our predictions for who might be the big winners:

Apple 1984 Memorial Award for Least Shitty Ad

Explanation: This honor will go to the "best" commercial or, far more likely, the one that offends us the least. We can't guarantee there will actually be a "good" Super Bowl commercial, but if, somehow, an ad agency somewhere can contain themselves for a moment, we may end up with an ad that both tastes great and is less filling, so to speak.

Prediction: Gatorade and Coca-Cola are perennial contenders for a half-decent spot, and obviously they advertise big during football. Nike, which has been cited in this space previously for making particularly good ads, is another possibility.

Most Overproduced Ad

Explanation: Have you ever felt that companies sometimes cram way too much stuff into 30 seconds? I think this Emerald Nuts spot from last year's Super Bowl is an illustrative example of what I'm referring to. I'm left thinking, "Wait, Robert Goulet, an office, ruining things, old guy climbing ceilings, mixed nuts... wha??" I think marketing people overextend themselves with the pressure of Super Bowl advertising, being the one time of the year when people actually care about commercials. And overproduced shit is usually what you end up with when you have too many cooks in the kitchen.

Prediction: This is wide open. Any company could come out with some Frankensteined piece of trash. Sadly, Emerald Nuts apparently couldn't come up with the money this year. We'll go with Pepsi, who we heard is creating a two-minute spot featuring Justin Timberlake.

Worst Use of "Humor" Award

Explanation: Humor's a subjective thing, as we've found out here on Ad Wizards. We'll tear apart ads that the three of us think use buffoonish humor, then we'll get attacked in the comments section by someone who thought it was a laugh riot. Well, call us elitist, but we think we are decent arbiters of humor, and we'll be awarding this one to the company that uses the clumsiest slapstick, the corniest pun, or the crudest sex joke.

Prediction: Always safe to go with a beer company. Bud Light's the only confirmed advertiser this year, but they alone usually have about eight awful jokes to choose from.

The Carlos Mencia Book Prize for Most Egregious Use of B-List Celebrities

Explanation: Here. Need I say more?

Prediction: He's baaaack. We're picking Bud Light, duh. Unless someone signs Willard Scott or something.

Flimsiest Pretense Award

Explanation: Given out to the ad that utilizes the most blatant sex appeal. There's a time and a place for beautiful people, but do you really need to see boobage when you're selling soap?

Prediction: Here is the Ad Age description of's 2008 Super Bowl initiative:, known for its racy Super Bowl spots, submitted no less than 11 concepts to Fox for approval, but the commercial CEO Bob Parsons loved best was rejected. The spot, which features race-car driver Danica Patrick and an animatronic beaver, will be shown on Super Bowl Sunday. The aired commercial will feature a group of people watching the game and talking about the Danica Patrick ad that is online, which Parsons said is the "the funniest best ad we've ever done."

Oh, dear.

Cheapest Budget/Clumsiest Execution Award

Explanation: Here's the Ad Age description of this year's SalesGenie Super Bowl spot:

Buy: Three spots in pre-game show, first and third quarter.
Animated call to action for the mailing-list company.
Agency: In-house. Vin Gupta, founder-chairman of, conceptualized and wrote copy for the ads himself.

Good Lord. Somebody put Motley on suicide watch.

Prediction: We've already sent the award plaque to Mr. Gupta. Congratulations, sir.

SkyMall Championship Trophy

This one goes to the overall worst attempt to sell a product. Not worst ad, mind you - SkyMall isn't about bad ads per se, it's about useless products and the awkward attempts to make them seem worth buying, which usually ends up backfiring like crazy. Bad attempts to sell products on television include ads that make their products sound superfluous, ads that associate the product they're selling with vomit, and really any of a number of things that we'll probably end up seeing come Sunday. A good example from last year was the Doritos ad featuring the two unappealing people fucking at a supermarket checkout.

Prediction: This one's always kind of a wild card, but it's a good bet that some food product will take the honors; there's the best chance for our feeling sick to get in the way of the commercial's pitch.

The Light/Miller Lite/Emerald Nuts Award for Worst Superbowl Ad

Explanation: The grand daddy of all the awards. Our version of the Ignoble Prize. This one goes out to the one commercial that stands above the rest as the absolute rankest, most putrid piece of utter shit that airs next Sunday night (Note: will most likely be a five-way tie).

Prediction: Too easy to say SalesGenie here, because they're really just going for PR value with the big (negative) reactions to their ads. I think they'll find the novelty has worn off. We're going out on a limb by not picking a beer company, and instead going with.... computer giant Dell. Apparently they've hired a music video director for the spot. We just drooled a little bit on our keyboards.


I think there might be one or two spots left for Super Bowl XLII. If you have $2.7-$3 million lying around, you, too, could reach millions of football fans next week. And, if you're lucky, you might, might, be walking away with a coveted "Worst Ad" award.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lose some weight, ladies!

Who doesn't love a good cheeseburger now and then? Sure, all that meat and cheese can't be very good for you, but hey, it's not like we can't handle a few of them. Right?

This is part of Subway's by now rather lengthy campaign to embarrass fast food chains by saying that their products lead to things like "saddlebags" and "a paunch". But there's a difference between saying that eating high-calorie fast food will make you fat and enumerating exaggerated consequences of that potential weight gain... right? Let's let the dialogue speak for itself:

Cashier: "Bloated feeling, regret, remorse, a bigger waist, loss of self-esteem..."

So, okay, fine. We would probably all be better off eating Subway than eating McDonald's, at least if you had to do one or the other on a regular basis. But isn't perpetuating the idea that people should feel bad about themselves for being a bit overweight slightly problematic? I'm not saying that people should be fat, just that it's probably not the best idea to have everyone in the world obsessed with dropping ten pounds.

Cashier: "...loss of boyfriend..."

This line is the real reason this ad is in here. Loss of boyfriend! "Be careful not to put on any weight, ladies! Your man will dump your fat ass like that." I'm okay with encouraging healthy eating, but lines like this make the ad play more like a threat. "Eat that cheeseburger and you'll die alone. And probably years earlier, fat stuff." There's a definite difference between eating right and being unhealthily weight-conscious; it's not clear to me that Subway is recognizing that.

Cashier: "...shame, years of therapy, fries and a shake."

Years of therapy? For eating one cheeseburger? Hell, even if you ate one every day! Years of therapy? You're a fucking sandwich shop, Subway, not some panacea for the world's ills.

The thing I don't get about this is why Subway suddenly feels a need to resort to ads that bully rather than just sell their product. Entrepreneur Magazine ranks Subway the #2 franchise in the United States, #1 American-based franchise in the world, and #3 fastest-growing franchise (after having been #1 in three of the last four years). Within a few more years, if not sooner, there will be 30,000 Subway restaurants worldwide; McDonald's, the world's single most visible restaurant brand, has around 31,000. Subway has been phenomenally successful and is showing few signs of slowing down. So what is the fucking deal? Why does the advertising have to get so harsh? "Eating anywhere else will result in loss of self-esteem and years of therapy?" Really, Subway? Fucking really? I know it's supposed to be a humorous ad, but let's be real here - Subway is not actually kidding. Clearly they want everyone to go to Subway instead of competing fast food chains, and that's fine; I would expect them to. But a series of ads that basically attempt to shame the viewer into doing so? Maybe it's me, but that just seems counterproductive. When was the last time you bought anything out of guilt?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Advertising from 40,000 feet, Part the Funf

Here's what gets me about SkyMall product descriptions: no matter how insane or useless something is, the writers are unwaveringly earnest. They have zero sense of humor - they just try to sell, sell, sell.

So, who's the bigger fool, the one who writes stupid copy for SkyMall, or the one who snarkily blogs about them? I guess you can decide for yourself.


Here's a new one for those of you who enjoy the lack of self-respect that comes with wearing a muumuu, but wish there were something that kept you a little warmer....

Yes, someone has created a product called a "Slanket." Before anyone gets any ideas, that name is already trademarked. Apparently the Slanket people have chosen for their model the nerdiest man on the planet, and they pictured him hanging out completely alone, possibly talking to himself, at what appears to be Fenway Park. I know they're illustrating the "outdoor use," but can you see someone wearing that in front of tens of thousands of people?

Also, when you give your product a name like "Slanket," I think you cannot reasonably expect consumers to order it in colors like "Blue Limoges," "Moss Green," or "Pink Lavender." Those are a little haughty even for Martha Stewart.


I like candy, but sometimes I really want to feel like I've earned it....

Everybody Loves The Arcade "Claw" Machine!

Oh, yeah. Everybody loved that thing. That's what the kids were lining up for at Chuck E. Cheese. Wasting quarter after quarter not winning prizes? That was so much more fun than, like, actual video games that lasted more than five seconds.

Maneuver the claw to grab a treat and move it to the chute before the music stops!

It sounds like so much fun! I love games where I maneuver claws and drop things down chutes under a time limit.

Teachers and parents love to use it to reward a job well done.

Or, if The Sweet Machine is anything like actual arcade claw machines, NOT reward a job well done.

Simply the best gift idea ever!

Simply the most comically absurd overstatement from SkyMall ever!


This next item is up for the championship round in an online SkyMall Madness useless product tournament. Not hard to see why....

When you only need to know what day it is

Let me tell you something. If you're someone who only needs to know what day it is, you're going to need a lot more than a Day Clock. Like, for instance, a Month Clock. Or a clock that tells you who's President. Or maybe a clock that tells you if you're a man or a woman. This kind of stuff can all be easy to forget.

I'd like to know what kind of pot-addled high-school dropout uses this Day Clock. How would it come into play? "Oh man, what day... is -- oh, wait, it's only Tuesday? Dude, I wasn't planning on waking up until Friday..."


I believe in fire safety, but I need my fire escapes to be convenient and discreet....

"Be careful jumping the windowsill onto that flimsy rope ladder, three year-old daughter! Mommy will be safely on the ground waiting for you!"


Designed for the horticulture-inclined Cryptozoologist...

Reader Tyler also pointed out this gem. What's key about Big Foot Garden Sculpture is not its unblushing ugliness, but rather the fact that it's two feet tall. Who cares if it has big feet at that point? This is a pygmy Yeti!

Finely hand-painted for startling realism

Startling realism if you lack depth perception. And what is there to finely hand-paint here? It's all ape-brown!


Hey, if Barbie can use a toy bank card, then so can responsible adults!

Sound effects make it fun to save money!

Yep. That's my main motivation for having savings. Awesome sound effects.

When coins or bills are deposited, this savings bank adds them up!

Does it also add up the interest you're not getting by keeping your money in a plastic piggy bank rather than a savings account?

Like a real bank, it won't allow overdraws, and the "vault" is protected by a combination lock.

Except that most real banks allow overdraws (they just charge you a massive fee for them), and their vaults are protected by laser security systems, cameras and armed guards.

The best part about this product was that it was nowhere near the kids section in the catalog. This is seriously marketed towards grown adults. I wonder how many ATM Bank owners have ever kept more money inside the "vault" than the $30 they spent on the product itself ?


I hope I don't have to fly anywhere again soon. I think the Spring SkyMall is about to be issued, and I just don't think I can handle it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Auto erotic

Do you love your car? I mean really love it. I mean, love it so much that you would like to have sex with it, metaphorically? Then you need to be driving a Cadillac.

Woman: "In today's luxury game, the question isn't whether or not your car has available features like a 40 gig hard drive."

A what? What? A 40 gig hard drive?? We're still talking about a car here, right?

Woman: "It isn't about sunroofs, or Sapele wood accents, pop-up nav screens or any of that."

I rather enjoy the supremely bored inflection she puts on "pop-up nav screens" as though (a) it was like saying the car came with seat belts and (b) the list she just read was 200 items long. Also, it's funny that you feel a need to mention all these things that it isn't about. Guess what? I think you think it's about that. Can't anyone just brag anymore with having to be all arch about it? Fucking post-modernism.

Woman: "No, the real question is... when you turn your car on, does it return the favor?"

Okay, seriously? Gross. I can't believe the unnecessary purring with which that line was delivered. And guess what doesn't appear in this commercial, which spent its first 15 seconds or so listing the features that it wasn't about? Any listing of features that qualify for "car turning you on" status. Do the features listed not play into that? Are we talking about horsepower, 0-to-60 acceleration... what the fuck are we talking about, here? Wait, I know - nothing. Is it nothing? It's nothing, isn't it? I'm just impressed they were able to work in a couple unobstructed shots of the gear shift, given that she seems to spend the rest of the commercial sitting on it.

Here's the thing: the 2008 CTS has gas mileage of 16 city / 25 highway with its standard features. That's not good even by SUV standards, let alone "upscale sedan" standards. (Note that all the 2007 CTS models finish rather low on this list. The 2008s supposedly perform better relative to the competition, to be fair, although with 16/25, I'm not sure how.) So the real question is, when you spend 35 to 40 grand on a car, and then you have to spend 50 bucks on gas every ten days, does it return the favor by buying you dinner on occasion?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Your mom thinks you're special.

Click here and view the commercial to the left of the screen.

What this commercial for the Buxton Over-the-Shoulder Organizer reminds me of is a grade school Invention Fair, where starry-eyed eight year olds show you two ketchup bottles and a salt shaker taped together, convinced that they've achieved the pinnacle of condiment engineering.

[ring ring]

Ohhhhhh nooooo! Can't find your phone in that cluttered handbag? Searching for those house keys again! Do you have to dig and dump to find what you're looking for?

Oh ho ho boy! This must be that over-the-shoulder expandable organizer I've heard so much about! It sounds so innovative! Will it be a hybrid wallet and vertical file system with color-coded tabs? And zippers! Zippers that you can label! I'm right, right?

Then you need the over-the-shoulder expandable organizer! From Buxton, makers of fine leather goods since 1898!

Okay, so what you're actually pushing here is a purse. A purse with pockets. Very nice, Billy. You get a gold star.

It's the biggest, little bag ever! [inappropriate comma placement theirs] That holds it all, and keeps it organized! [sentence fragment, also theirs] So you find what you need, in a flash! Crafted of supple, gen-you-WINE leather!

I like it when purses are hawked to me by carnival barkers.

The Buxton organizer has this outer pouch for your phone! You'll never miss a call again! Don't lug around a heavy tote! Watch!! As the Buxton organizer turns this jumbled mess into an organized success!

I don't think you need to have taken a chemistry class to understand that you're not making the bag any lighter than the "heavy tote," unless the argument is that a leather handbag is lighter than a canvas tote bag. All you're doing is rearranging your mess into a differently-shaped mess.

And it's expandable! Store two regular sized water bottles, AND an umbrella!

This'll be great for when I go on safari!

Amazing! With the Buxton organizer, you're hands-free, making travel a breeze and shopping a pleasure!

If there's anything that women hate, it's shopping. Thank god this purse came along to change all that. I mean, this over-the-shoulder expandable organizer.

Look! A regular handbag can get stolen! But, with Buxton organizer's adjustable shoulder strap, it's always secure!

Any bag can get stolen. The only difference here is that the woman is still wearing the handbag while she sits at the table (very comfortable) rather than hanging it on the back of her chair. This is a change in behavior, not a magic handbag. If she didn't leave her purse hanging behind her where she couldn't see it, like a dumbass, she wouldn't have had this problem in the first place.

There's a special wallet compartment for easy reach, and handy slots for your credit cards!

At this point, the commercial lists all of the things that you could put into pockets. Credit cards, business cards, parking stubs, appointment cards, coupons, driver's license, social security card. Why stop there? Three nickels! Five cigarettes! A pack of gum! Your dignity!

By the way, social security card in your everyday purse is a no-no. Take that piece of advice as a freebie from the AdWizards, Buxton.

You'll be so organized, you can even find what you need with a blindfold! You could pay over a hundred dollars for a similar designer bag! Get the Buxton organizer in gen-you-WINE leather for only $19.95!

Wow, lady, that cheap-ass purse sure goes great with your BUSINESS SUIT.

There's more! [promo for a digital voice recorder, which incidentally retails two for $9.99 at your neighborhood Walgreens]

My point is, if it's a great purse, by all means just tell us it's a great purse, which happens to have a bunch of pockets and an an adjustable strap that can be worn over the shoulder or cross-body. You haven't reinvented the wheel, so you damn sure didn't need to take four times as a long as a regular commercial to promote your product.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Advertising from 40,000 feet, Part the Whatever

I have a feeling SkyMall knows how easy it is to make fun of them. Other sites lampoon their products, too. So, I don't feel bad about these kind of posts. Without further ado....

Ohhh. Yes, please do. Let's take a look at some of these catalog items to see what we can use that thoughtful gift certificate on....


Do you crave the delicious taste of convenience store food without the inconvenient drive?

So glad this is finally available. I often cook 8 hot dogs at a time and think to myself, "Why can't there be a easier, goofier way to do this?"

1950s diner-style dogs roll in from the past!

So... this is some kind of culinary time machine, too? Or does it come with relic hot dogs from the 1950's?


Do you suffer from muscle tension? Try our patented Neckpro Traction Device, new from Kevorkian Home Solutions Enterprises....

"Noooo! Don't significantly reduce neck pain, Harold! You have so much to live for!"


SkyMall has delivered us from the indignity of getting hammered on luke-warm alcohol....

Nothing goes down smoother than an ice-cold shot of your favorite liquor.

Nothing. That shot's going down smoother than a Sig Ep's pickup line. Even mineral water is going to taste like hot tar compared to fifteen-degree SoCo, baby.

Features LED illumination for an eye-catching bottle display.

And you'll be too shit-faced to notice that the eye-catching bottle display is upside down.

Simply attach your bottle of choice and let the liquor drop to a temperature colder than ice

Gee, sounds even simpler than placing your bottle of choice into your freezer, which would have the same effect.

Does the name "Lil' Chill Shot" sounds a little too like a Polly Pocket toy for something that could dispense 190-proof Everclear at a frat party?


Reality check: This man is unironically wearing a neon electric guitar-emblazoned jump suit....

Day-omn. That dude is getting the lad-ies! I hope they have baby blue Smurf Jammerz in adult sizes, too.


For the high-street man-about-town with more than one, but fewer than six, designer timepieces....
Protect Your Expensive Watches...
.... by placing them in this easy-to-steal, convenient carrying case for the burglar with an eye for fine wrist-wear.

Looks great on dresser, too.

Sometimes even SkyMall simply runs out of things to say. "Looks great next to clarinet case in late afternoon sunlight on a windowsill of a Connecticut farm house."


So, still not sure what to do with that SkyMall gift certificate? When faced with the choice between worthless crap, and hilarious worthless crap, I think the only thing to do is: regift the gift certificate.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Vote or diet

One of the hoariest expressions in the English language is "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." That's probably a little strong for this Pizza Hut ad, but no matter how nobly-intentioned it is, it's really just not any good.

"Say, did you hear about RECENT POLITICAL NEWS? Those fat cats should do what's best for the common, pizza-eating man! I may just vote on LUDICROUSLY OVER-GENERALIZED POLICY ISSUE!"

Perhaps it's because the spot doesn't actually sell their product, but Pizza Hut doesn't seem to have given this ad much of a budget. It looks like it was filmed with two theater majors on the first day of improv class; I refuse to insult Pizza Hut's marketing team by suggesting that any of the dialogue actually needed to be written down on paper.

Guy 1: "What's up?"
Guy 2: "Just eating some pizza. Check this out. Look at all these presidential candidates talking about change. They're gonna change this, change that... know what I'd like? A little extra change in my pocket."

Sir, I congratulate you. A play on words worthy of Shakespeare. Seriously, could that joke be any older? I think the first recorded use was in this vaudeville routine from 1896:

Archibald T. Blatherschmidt: "I say, Bartleby, that William Jennings Bryan is always talking about silver. Silver this, silver that... know what I'd like?"
Bartleby J. Straightman: "What is it that you would like, Archibald?"
Archibald T. Blatherschmidt: "A little extra silver in my pocket!"
[general merriment]

Guy 1: "I hear you. I may just sit this election out!"
Guy 2: "No, come on, man, you've got a voice! Go use it! You know, you can change history if you just vote."
Guy 1: "Yeah, you're right - I'm voting!"

I hope he isn't that easily swayed when it comes to policy issues. The youth vote has been notoriously hard to mobilize, but the idea of millions of college kids marching to the polls because Pizza Hut told them to is a little weird, isn't it? And what kind of twisted logic leads you to conclude that an unhappiness with the current state of political affairs - whatever that means in this excessively generic case - means that not voting is the best idea, even if you're only concluding that for two seconds until your roommate uses his powers of persuasion on you?

Guy 1: "How about sharing a slice of pizza for a change?"

Ooh, callback! Nice, dude. Very nice.

Guy 2: "Dude, I... two??"

Well, that fell apart in a hurry, didn't it? Archibald Blatherschmidt's Sideshow of Mirth always made much more graceful exits. They just don't make 'em like they used to.

I'm just confused. Did this win some student film contest of which we were not notified? Was this the only take shot with the lens cap off? There has to be some reason for why something so generally limp and shoddy made it to air, doesn't there? I appreciate the sentiment, Pizza Hut, but given the cynicism of the demographic you're targeting, I think you needed something just a little less shitty. Not every argument on the merits of voting can begin and end with, "No, dude, you totally should." And give Pizza Hut credit for not sticking a product shill into the ad - the Pizza Mia box gets placement, of course, but you kind of have to already know what it is to really recognize it as anything other than a generic Pizza Hut box - but it's kind of odd to see an ad that doesn't pitch a product, especially when the election is still more than nine months away. Think of all the kids rolling out of bed on November 5. "Hey, man, were we supposed to do something for Pizza Hut yesterday?" "Shit, dude, I don't know. You up for some Taco Bell?"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

You've gotta put Mercury on your zzzzzz

Sometimes I wonder if certain companies even have ad agencies. Watch this Mercury ad and try to tell me it wasn't assembled in-house.

When Ford, which also has cars that run SYNC, made an ad showing off the feature, it made it a funny one. Not jaw-droppingly hilarious or anything like it probably wanted to be, but at least it went for a joke. So what does Mercury do when presented with the opportunity to sell the same feature?

Woman: "Can your car play every song you own? Play track 'Let It Roll.'"

Oh, that famous song "Let It Roll," by that famous band Common Sense. They're famous. What on earth was the budget for this ad? Remember, Ford owns Mercury; it seems telling that they went with relatively big-name artists Smashing Pumpkins and Korn for their own ads but foisted a "reggae/pop" band off on Mercury, apparently the red-headed stepchild of the Ford family. Although really, none of those bands has been popular since 1999 or so.

Woman: "And can it make phone calls, all at the sound of your voice? Call Amy."
Woman on phone: "Hi, this is Amy!"
Woman: "Be right there!"

What the hell? That's a conversation? First of all, you're both super boring. Second of all, why does Amy answer the phone like she's practicing her answering machine greeting?

Woman: "If it's the attention-getting Mercury Milan, it can."

When you have to throw in an editorial like that, it's pretty clear you're just making shit up. What is attention-getting about a pedestrian-looking mid-size car? Do they all come with "Featuring the awesome power of SYNC" stenciled on the hood in spray paint? Ooh, you could put some bad-ass flames around it - that would turn some heads. Wait, what's that? It's a totally boring, could-be-any-other-car model? Awesome. Of course, this isn't the first time Mercury has tried rather limply to make the Milan sound even remotely appealing.

My favorite parts of this ad are the several seconds of dead air right after the song starts playing - because we all needed the women to shut up so we could drink in the car's ability to drive in a straight line - and after the announcer gives the lease price, apparently so we have time to read the tiny, unreadable lease boilerplate without distraction. Are you sure you don't want to tell us anything else about the car you could have squeezed into those extra five seconds, guys? Just the one third-party feature? Okay.

Woman: "You've gotta put Mercury on your list."

I promise that if, at the end of this year, we do a "Most Stultifying Ads of 2008" post, I will put Mercury on my list. You have my word on that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Subway: Eat bench.

When he signed his various endorsement deals, I'm guessing Brady Quinn thought he'd be getting a lot more playing time.

That is just unfortunate. Does standing around watching other people play football qualify as you being "busy"? Come on, Brady, that's a sweet sandwich delivery gig. You're going to need to keep your legs in shape in case you ever do get to start.

This is why no college football fan likes Notre Dame, for the record. Why is the backup quarterback for the Cleveland Browns getting endorsement deals? Oh, because he went to Notre Dame. Guess what? Big deal. Did he win the Heisman like fellow Subway pitchman Reggie Bush? No. Did he ever win a bowl game? No. Has he thrown more than eight passes in the pros? No. Couldn't we at least wait until he starts a game before we sign him up, advertisers?

Additional Scoops of Idiocy

Kellogg's ran an ad for Raisin Bran Crunch not too long ago that we here at Ad Wizards thought was an asinine, tortured, 30-second turd fest. Well, good news for turd fest aficionados: Kellogg's has apparently deemed that ad worthy of turning into a campaign:

In the spirit of cooperation, I'll assume this commercial is intended to be tongue-in-cheek, and I won't go into it line-by-line. But I would like to ask a few general questions:

1. Does something as vanilla as a bran cereal with dried fruit really attract "superfans"?
2. Is the idea of a bran cereal "superfan" supposed to be the basis for the "humorous" absurdity in these ads?
3. Does absurdity sell a lot of boxes of cereal?

Maybe Kellogg's knows the answers to those questions. Or maybe they have no idea, and they're just throwing shit against a wall and seeing what sticks. Either way, I guess they have a concept for an ad here. However, the "punchline" of the ad doesn't work. You have three Raisin Bran Crunch fans on a pilgrimage to the Raisin Bran Crunch plant. They are each eating cereal while driving in a vehicle emblazoned with the Raisin Bran Crunch logo and sporting a Sun mascot mirror dangler. All the while they're talking exclusively about Raisin Bran Crunch. Then, we have this:

Backseat Guy: You know what will really get us in the spirit? (singing) 99 boxes of Raisin Bran Crunch, if you're nice to me, I'll share some with you...

Passenger Seat Guy: ... (silence, turns head slowly, shocked expression)

Okay, no, dude. You are eating a bowl of Raisin Bran Crunch in a car with 2 other people doing the same while traveling to see where Raisin Bran Crunch is made. You are certified, batshit insane. You cannot believably express surprise at anyone else's actions. You cannot believably act shocked at anything!

I have an idea for the next installment of this campaign: our colorful trio of RBC boosters decide they want to meet their mascot-hero face-to-face. So they volunteer to pilot NASA's first, and only, manned mission to the Sun. As they near the center of our solar system, the cheerful chords of "99 Boxes of Raisin Bran Crunch" fade away softly as their space shuttle, decorated with bright red Kellogg's logos, is incinerated at 5,778 degrees Kelvin. Tagline: Kellogg's Raisin Bran Crunch: Remember, it's bran and dead grapes. Don't overdo it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I want more, more, more of that reckless overstatement I've been looking for

Diet Dr. Pepper's ads have long been a little... odd. For a while, the jingle ran, "I want more, more, more, of that Dr. Pepper flavor I've been looking for." You know how you might get that? Regular Dr. Pepper. Then it was "Diet Dr. Pepper tastes more like regular Dr. Pepper!" More like it than what? You know what tastes most like it? Regular Dr. Pepper.

Um... what? There's another one in this series I couldn't find online where a six-pack of Diet Dr. Pepper actually walks across the grocery store to the "dessert aisle," because its taste is so "rich and decadent." What? Look, I realize that the comparison being made is mostly to other diet sodas, and yes, it's true that among diet sodas, Diet Dr. Pepper is near the top as far as closest facsimiles of the regular product. But let's not go fucking crazy here. Diet soda is not fooling anyone into thinking it's the same thing as eating a cupcake. It is not "decadent." No one is going to be all, "I'm cheating on my diet! This is so rich and sweet, it must be loaded with calories!" *turns can around* "Oh my God!!!!" Even regular Dr. Pepper is not "rich" or "decadent." It's pop, for crap's sake. It's not a five-dollar truffle or a slice of Black Forest cake. It's not a double-thick chocolate milkshake or two scoops of chocolate chip ice cream smothered in hot fudge. It's a goddamn can of pop. Calm the hell down.

Friday, January 11, 2008

From the makers of Dr. Frankenstein's Throat Lozenges....

Having trouble bringing the deceased back to life? Well, the answer's here: Theraflu.

Hey, it doesn't just clear your sinuses. Check out this info from the Theraflu Warming Relief bottle:

- temporarily relieves:
- minor aches and pains - headache - runny nose - loss of life - unending purgatory - ancient curse compelling you to walk the streets as a miserable specter for eternity - minor throat pain

Seriously, are we talking about a cold and flu symptom medication, or are we talking about some miracle drug that can raise the dead? And if you are in possession of such a product, do you really keep it in your kitchen cabinet, next to the plates?

It's a curious ad. And at first the image of the demon cat didn't make a lot of sense to me, then I read the bottle label more closely:

- do not use more than directed
- adults and children 12 years of age or older: take 2 tablespoons
- bring offerings forth to the sacred Red Cat God before ingesting dose
- do not take more than 6 doses in 24 hours (unless Red Cat God decrees it)

Theraflu. Good to be back.... from the fiery depths of Hell!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Classic nonsense.

Did you ever wonder what crazy smells like? You need go no further than the king of bizarre abstract ads, Calvin Klein.

Can you believe that these ads targeted people who wanted to be attractive to other people? I would have guessed cyborgs or zombies.