Horrible / Advertising

"The most common trouble with advertising is that it tries too hard to impress people."
James Randolph Adams

Advertisments litter every television, newspaper, and website they can find... and naturally, consumers will fall over and buy what's being promoted. But, why buy certain products if their ads are so bad, they're horrible? These advertisements are so bad that they even drove the people who liked the product in the first place away. This is the bottom of the barrel for commercialism.

For a different variety of really bad advertising, see What Were They Selling Again?. For otherwise decent ads that had one horrid messup, see the Dethroning Moment page. British website Ad Turds was set up for just this sort of thing — exposing, ridiculing and stomping on this sort of advertising.

Important Note: Merely being offensive in its subject matter is not enough to justify a work as So Bad It's Horrible. Hard as it is to imagine at times, there is a market for all types of deviancy (no matter how small a niche it is). It has to fail to appeal even to that niche to qualify as this.

Examples (in more-or-less alphabetical order):

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    Web Ads 
  • Many, if not all, animated web and pop-up ads (especially those with loud sounds) can easily fall here, especially if you have an older, slower OS or are browsing using a mobile platform. And let's not get started on the pop-ups that take over your screen. Yes, it does cost money to ruin our lives, but do these execs seriously believe that clogging up people's modems so their logo can fly across your screen and obscure the text you're trying to read will create a positive reception for their product, especially when nobody who's the least bit worried about their reputation employs that strategy?
    • For that matter, certain sound-playing ads are actually a whole commercial, and are designed to begin playing their audio before the page is even open onscreen so you're forced to either listen to it or click around wondering which open window is playing the sound. It's not as annoying if your computer's sound system has physical controls for volume on it, but if they don't — and you haven't turned down the sound on the computer itself — you just wonder what made the companies think annoying you is a good way to advertise their product. Thankfully, some web browsers, including Firefox and Chrome, now show an icon on tabs that play sound for quicker squashing of those ads.
    • Want an added dose of Nightmare Fuel? Why not have ads that cover your whole screen, terrify you with a false statement of your Computer being infected, and then prevent you from leaving the page normally! Most of these sorts of ads are from rogue antivirus or Ransomware scams based out of India or another third world country, and you'd be surprised how many people fall for them.
    • Any web ad that disguises itself as a Microsoft Windows dialog box. Designed to trick gullible users into downloading spyware and will get the makers in hot water with the Better Business Bureau (I-A-2, second bullet point). It backfires horribly for users of other OSes, or even reasonably recent versions of Windows, as these ads usually impersonate the Windows 98 or XP style of dialog boxes and shifting your color scheme even a shade from the default will betray those that impersonate the Vista/7 window style. Of course, these businesses have been adjusting to impersonate the more modern-day versions of Windows dialog boxes after Windows XP was considered obsolete by Microsoft itself.
    • On that note, any web ad that automatically redirects your browser. These are particularly loathsome, as not only do they interrupt whatever you're trying to read, nine times out of ten they try to install malware on your computer.
    • There's a growing trend among seedier ad purchasers to spit out pop-up ads screaming about how your Flash Player, or computer drivers, or anything else are out of date and need to be updated. Naturally, clicking on the download link and running the executable it gives you will pump viruses into your computer instead of actually installing anything.
      • Certain sites that need you to have Flash Player fully up-to-date will send you a helpful reminder - mostly over a black screen. "Flash Player out of date? Get it fixed or piss off." And on certain sites, having Flash Player out of date acts as a kind of Adblocker.
    • Some file hosting sites actively try to trick you into clicking on advertisements by plastering the download page with ads which have a large, bright button saying "download" and little else. You have to hunt for the actual download link for the hosted file, which is of course small and nondescript.
    • Some ads which expand to obstruct your view of the page you're trying to look at have a fake close button that, when clicked under the assumption that it will close or collapse the ad, open the link to the site they want you to visit.
  • Video ads on mobile devices. If North American cell phone companies weren't in love with data caps, this would be a minor annoyance (and still is when Wi-fi is in use), but when that video chomps up 10-20 MB in your 2 GB-per-month allotment, it gets old real fast. Also if you're listening to music or a podcast while browsing on your phone, the video will interrupt whatever you're listening to forcing you to close the page.
  • The YouTube preroll ads for Bic Shavers feature men doing things of varying "piggishness" to attractive women and then being "magically cured of their piggishness" by a weird, singing, mind-blowingly obnoxious Mary Poppins ripoff who uses Bic Shavers and a magical wardrobe change to turn them into "proper gentlemen". They... were not received well. Most comments were either objections to the notion that you can't be a proper gentlemen, or in fact, anything but a "pig", if you have facial hair, or objections to the sexism against men rampant in the videos.
  • Ads that claim that someone made millions through doing something arbitrary. Usually, these ads crop up when you're attempting to download a file (and mess with the download itself) or appear in comments sections. Fuck off, we don't want to hear how Jim Doe McGee managed to make $300 in a single hour. They're as fake as a Chinese watch, and only serve to scam or infect the average internet user.
  • Adverts that show a random person supposedly saying something to the tune of "I TRIED THIS NEW MEDICINE AND I GOT RRRRRRRRRRRIPPPPPPPEDDDD!" are a one-stop shop for scams and spamming.
  • There's a type of ad that can only be described as pop-up ads taken Up to Eleven - instead of merely opening a new window with the ad, they actually replace the page you're on with the ad. Pressing back won't help, as the page you wanted to see won't be in the back history, forcing you to go back to the page before that and find the link again. These ads also lie to you, usually pretending to be a software update (or worse, a federal embargo on your machine) which actually is malware or ransomware. On some versions, pressing back will cause a confusingly-worded "Are you sure you want to leave this page?" dialog box to pop up, at which point physically disconnecting from the Internet, going to a local Staples, and getting the sucker nuked and paved is probably the safest thing to do. Said dialogue boxes also sometimes extend past the toolbar, meaning you literally can't click the "I want to leave" button, or sometimes even close the browser. Thankfully, it can't stop the Task Manager, meaning you can at least crash the ad via finding processes to end. (Most dialogue boxes of this type will also detect you pressing the Enter key, nullifying their efforts to hide the button in the first place. You may have to hold down Enter if you're using Internet Explorer, for whatever reason.)
    • Ads that disguise themselves as "virus detected" screens. These are pretty much the evolved versions of the ads described above, except more aggravating as not only do they come up out of nowhere, they might refuse to let you close the tab and ultimately force you to end your browsing session. Adding icing to the cake is the fact that they try to make you call a random number, which most likely gets your computer hacked.
    • There's also some ads that will force your computer to automatically download the executable that installs the virus, and if you aren't anticipating it they could very easily complete downloading the executable before you even have a chance to close the window. This isn't as big of a problem if you don't have your browser set to automatically open downloaded files, however, and you can usually just delete the executable if you know it's a virus, since most malware doesn't begin ruining everything until it's actually run on the computer.
    • These ads have also found their way to mobile devices, mostly in the form of "free" apps that mess up your phone. Just like on a computer, they hijack the page you're visiting and when you look in your history, the website's url is replaced with the ad's. The only way to knock it out is to visit the website again from scratch and pray that the ad doesn't reappear.
  • Those online ads that say things along the lines of "You are the zillionth visitor to this page, click here to receive a free _____!" As Admiral Ackbar would say, "It's a trap!" It's turned Up to Eleven on mobile devices, where you aren't given the opportunity to click away from said page, which can make it all-but-impossible to actually browse any site which features said adverts unless you're using an ad blocker (which in turn assumes that it's not a site which prohibits the usage of ad blockers).
  • In 2001, a small wills-and-trusts website called Wills.com ran a banner ad that stated "Pray for the best, prepare for the worst." It showed a simplistic animation of an airplane crashing into the Twin Towers. The banner ad is long gone, but Vincent Flanders of Web Pages That Suck.com fame did a YouTube video about it. Nowadays, Wills.com now takes you to a blank page with black text simply saying "Wills.com".
  • ZoneAlarm Free Firewall launched a grossly-alarmist ad in 2010 for their paid antivirus suite, by sending a pop-up warning users of their free firewall that they may be in danger of attack from a Trojan horse (Zeus Botnet). Except this warning also appeared on computers that didn't have said virus, and the "solution" it presented was to buy the full software. The backlash was fierce, and ZoneAlarm users threatened to or did uninstall the product in retaliation. Let this be a warning that letting the marketing department issue false security warnings may not be a good idea; it didn't help that the warning dialog resembled a "rogue security software" scam.
  • To advertise Dream Corp, LLC, [adult swim] made a series of YouTube advertisements consisting solely of six seconds of a man dancing with a sign bearing the show's logo. The worst part, not only can you not skip them, but there isn't even a "Stop seeing this ad" option, meaning you can't bypass the lack of a "Skip this ad" button and stop seeing them for good, which results in six wasted seconds you could have been spending watching the video you clicked on.
  • Google's Know What's Nearby pre-roll ad campaign from late 2016 takes Totally Radical to heights not reached since Da Boom Crew. The ads consist of two-to-five second video loops with Google searches overlayed on top and a single sentence; for example, "When you find delicious ice cream nearby," in a style reminiscent of Tumblr posts. Now, this could have worked... had Google not chosen to use a trap remix of a high-pitched man screaming loudly as the background music. This, coupled with the fact that the ads were so common when they were shown, led to people mocking and parodying the ads, to the point that Google had to remove the first of these ads from their YouTube channel due to the toxic reception.
  • The notorious "Masterclass" trailer for Mighty No. 9 seemingly attempts to invoke nostalgia for The '90s, but ends up recalling some of the worst "X-Treme!!" ad campaigns from that decade. The trailer relies on an unfunny, neurotic narrator to show off game mechanics rather than letting it speak for itself, and at one point insults a good deal of the game's demographic by mentioning "making the bad guys cry like an anime fan on prom night". The video also prominently displays a Special Effects Failure, and as a whole feels rushed. After being posted on YouTube by publishers Deep Silver, it was roundly mocked by the gaming press and community alike, with a large amounts of dislikes and even garnering ire from developer Inti Creates CEO Takaya Aizu, and wound up being another nail in the coffin for what had already become an Acceptable Target at that point.
  • The "alliwantforxmasisapsp.com" campaign for the PlayStation Portable was actually somewhat ahead of its time in terms of a viral marketing campaign... at least in concept. In execution, however, it actually amounted to one of the most embarrassing "rap" videos ever filmed, along with an accompanying website that tried so hard to shill the console (which was actually selling very well as it was) that it fooled absolutely nobody. Adding insult to injury, after they were widely called out on the campaign, Sony gave an "apology" in which they claimed they had been too clever for users to understand what they were trying to accomplish. If nothing else, the whole mess did set some clear boundaries as to what is or isn't widely considered acceptable in a viral advertising campaign, even if there are still plenty of companies who ignore said boundaries.
  • The mobile version of This Very Wiki has problems with web ads. Oftentimes, an ad will pop-up on the bottom of the screen, and more often than not, clicking the "x" on the ad will simply force the browser to the top of the page, possibly to force you to click ads. On older versions of the Google Chrome app, some ads would forcibly open the App Store to get you to download a useless app, though newer versions of the Chrome app now give you the option to disallow this, as the page will now produce a dialog that says "This page will open in another app." Simply clicking cancel will stop this. But seriously, all these issues can make viewing the mobile version of TV Tropes an absolute chore, though using the Google Chrome app as opposed to Safari makes things a little better. And we mean a little.
  • WhatsApp is the most-used SMS-replacement / IM / chat service used worldwide (outside of the U.S.). Lots of ads appear on mobile phone web pages by scammers (not associated with the real app), that mimick an iOS / Android OS pop-up, saying "Your WhatsApp version is outdated which puts your security at risk; update it now to protect yourself.". If you click on it, not any app will be updated but you'll be subscribed to a costly SMS-subscription that's almost impossible to get rid of. PSA: Like any other proper Google-approved / Apple-approved app, it's only updated through the Play Store / App Store; keep strictly to [your OS] Store for updating your Apps.

  • This German video for the 2013 election cycle was actually pulled before it was even aired, though if it was because of its quality or for implying to not vote the big parties remains to be seen. Either way, it displays embarrassing stereotypes of both teenagers and old people trying to be "hip", which backfires on both fronts.
  • The 3DO advertisement campaign by The 3DO Company. The Panasonic version of the system referred to itself as the most advanced gaming system in the universe and blatantly insulted the popular SNES and Sega Genesis consoles by calling them "baby toys". For its supposed advancement, the 3DO had for the most part only one controller input, instead of two as consoles had for years at that point. And while it had superb graphics at the time, it was very expensive, costing $700! Few were sold, and it was quickly overshadowed by upcoming consoles.
  • The American Forces Network (AFN), unlike commercially-owned television and radio stations, is funded by the U.S. government and doesn't need to air commercials to raise revenue. To keep shows on a regular schedule, AFN replaces commercials with public service announcements, often made in-theater and sometimes by the local affiliate. This has led to poorly-written PSAs with little to no production value, no appeal to their audience, and messages which accidentally wind up the opposite of their intent.
  • The marketing campaign for the Atari Jaguar was a humongous misstep, in part responsible for the death of the Jaguar and its impact on US console development. It featured annoying (e.g. shrill and condescending, rambling and overly made-up) narrators, grossout "humor", religious harassment,, Blatant Lies regarding the console's technical specs note , arrogant slogans that channeled the Console Wars of the era, and a general lack of gameplay footage to offer. It's thought to have contributed to the console's catastrophic launch and eventual failure.
    • On top of this, there was a half-hour infomercial produced which hammers in the "Do the Math" slogan and repeatedly portrays ownership of a 16-bit console as uncool.
      • Bear in mind that at this point, the initial wave of popularity Sega had made with their Genesis was starting to settle down, and Nintendo had a firm hold in the market. Sega had learned that attempting to insult their business rival didn't work as well as they thought, but managed to pull ahead and compete just fine. Atari on the other hand, didn't seem to learn that insults didn't work any more.
    • Following the last in a series of massive price drops, Atari made a two-page magazine ad that, on top of hinging on the aforementioned Blatant Lies, told buyers of rivaling consoles to "take two smart pills and call us in the morning" for not having bought a Jaguar.
  • The earlier commercials for the down-on-your-luck tax service BlueTax were among the worst aired on cable news channels. Start with our spokesman, "Max from BlueTax", who comes off as either creepy as fuck due to the entire advert's godawful CGI (his hair was bitmapped!) or as obnoxiousness incarnate for his grating voice and inability to shut up for half a second. The public domain chalkboard fonts, toll-free numbers spiels said by Max using individual voice clips (much like an automated phone call) were obvious, as a final insult Max closed the ad with a shout that just drove home how unlikable and/or creepy he was.
  • Burger King had their notorious "Where's Herb?" ads in 1985-86. The gimmick was that Herb was a man who had never eaten a Whopper in his life, and customers were to be on the lookout for Herb at their local Burger King for a chance to win $5,000. In addition, customers could get Whoppers for 99 cents if they told the cashier "I'm not Herb." (or if they were named Herb, that "I'm not the Herb you're looking for."). After initial mass confusion caused by people not being given any hints as to what Herb looked like, he was revealed at a Super Bowl game in January 1986... at which point nobody cared anymore note . Not helping was a controversy stemming from the fact that a 15-year-old boy spotted Herb at a Burger King in Alabama, but as he was underage the prize had to go to a friend of his who was in the restaurant at the same time, which in turn led to the Alabama state senate declaring consumer fraud. The campaign lasted only three months, and Burger King's profits plummeted by 40% as a result. What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events In Television History lists this at #42.
  • David Carlson (the politician) launched an attack ad on Kurt Bills during the race for Minnesota's senate. Instead of attacking Bills' stance on important issues, it borders on slander and complains about Kurt Bills being "unelectable" just because he's a supporter of Congressman Ron Paul, claiming with exaggerated points that America would become a dystopia if Bills won. The ad also uses gratuitous amounts of Godwin's Law to make a point on why Bills shouldn't be a senator. As a result, it's one of the most disliked political ads of the 2012 election season on YouTube and, unsurprisingly, Carlson lost.
  • Pete Hoekstra's infamous Debbie Spend IT Now ad. In the ad, a stereotypical young Asian in a rice field rides a bicycle up to the camera and, speaking in a hideously stereotypical fashion, thanks "Michigan Senator Debbie Spenditnow" for every single American job sent to China. To make a long story short, after two weeks the actress apologized and on Election Day, Hoekstra lost the election by a 20% margin. Furthermore, it was aired during the Super Bowl in the state of Michigan, which meant that it eventually aired nationally when the news did their "what unique local ads aired during the Super Bowl" rundowns.
  • In the UK, Diet Coke hired Welsh singer Duffy to make a commercial launching their new advertising slogan "Hello You". The ad showed her stealing a bicycle and riding through town (including right through a supermarket) to get to her concert, minutes away, all the while singing an extremely off-key version of an old Sammy Davis Jr. song. The campaign was intended to make Duffy the face of Diet Coke throughout the "Hello You" campaign, but negative audience reception led to the whole thing being scrapped. Advertising standards then had to investigate complaints that the ad encouraged dangerous behaviour by showing her riding a bike at night with no helmet, lights, or reflectors.
  • DirecTV released a series of ads where they used scenes from movies with the actors reprising their roles with new dialogue to talk about the product. While an interesting concept with (mostly) innocuous content, like with Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future ([1]) or Sigourney Weaver in Aliens ([2]), two of these commercials that fell into this category used footage from Tommy Boy ([3]) and Poltergeist ([4]) starring the deceased Chris Farley and Heather O'Rourke, the latter of whom died in childhood. There was massive backlash for the company exploiting dead celebrities to sell their product and it was quickly ended.
  • Dwight the Knight, a tax relief agency. For some inexplicable reason, Dwight's voice in this minute-long ad is pitched up, so he sounds like a heroic chipmunk with a voice that quickly grates on the eardrums. Then add in the "animation", where the CGI Dwight looks completely stiff and unblinking, and does nothing but vaguely flail his arms back and forth. See the ad, which happens to be the only thing on the company's YouTube channel.
  • The Federal Government of Mexico requires the country's radio stations to air a number of PSAs during the ad breaks. For some reason, this also applies to the English-language stations along the border aimed at American listeners. Since they know it's a big waste of time, the producers don't bother with decent acting or writing. The end result is an hourly block of stiff, stilted messages that don't apply to the listeners at all and either reduce the amount of ad revenue the stations can earn, or make commercial breaks longer.
  • This ad for Finally Fast (the product's original name). Among other things, it shows a Windows Blue Screen of Death superimposed onto the screen of an Apple iBook (a pre-x86 Mac), a Firefox "can't find the page" warning in Internet Explorer, and countless other baffling errors. There's also the "music" (a generic looping techno beat they probably got from some public-domain music library), the Narmy bad acting of the man at the end, and the whiny teenager complaining about how a bad connection was slowing down his local computer game. You know something's very wrong when the PS2 controller he was playing it with is the least inaccurate aspect of the commercial.
  • The launch ad for the Tiger Game.com falls into many of the traps the Jaguar campaign did, down to ridiculous mascots, arrogant posturing, and insulting its own demographic's intelligence, with the slogan "It plays more games than you idiots have brain cells!" note  The ad becomes Hilarious in Hindsight when you look at the spokesman in the commercial and realize he looks like a tiny Sweet Bro.
  • This infamous ad for the GM EV1 sells electric cars via creepy music, ominous shadows (namely, disembodied silhouettes of people that have given many viewers the impression that a nuclear explosion has left outlines of their now-disintegrated bodies on the pavement), and narration that mostly points up the car as unnatural. It failed so miserably, there have been accusations of deliberate sabotage.
  • Canadians are usually tolerant of poor advertising... when it's worth the point-and-laugh. Such is the key failing of this wonderful spot from Grey Power, a discounted car insurance provider for drivers over 50. What makes it so horrible? It was utterly obnoxious, with the unfortunate implication that all middle-aged drivers act like 12-year-olds off their Ritalin, and it was long enough (more than a minute) to run its one major gimmick into the ground many times over, but not short enough that it couldn't be (and it often was) used to hide technical problems. One of the actresses has announced outright that they're ashamed of their appearance in the advert.
  • Groupon had a series of adverts that started off as celebrity PSAs for dire global situations, such as the tenuous relations between China and Tibet or the deforestation of the Amazon... before lapsing into extolling the tangentially related (at best) glory of their product. In short, they trivialized serious issues with global repercussions just to sell an item, hiring celebrities to join in, no less. There was a major backlash from viewers and Groupon customers over this thing. Brilliantly parodied by Conan O'Brien here.
  • This abysmal Health Hotline commercial for knee braces. The ad itself is mostly just mind-numbingly boring, but the animation is what makes it horrible: it's almost entirely made up of totally static stock clip art with barely-animated mouths flapping randomly as the characters speak in bored monotones. Additionally, the clip art isn't even consistent, as the grandma character had her model switched at the end to an old lady that barely even looks like her. For some odd reason, they made a second version of this commercial that is literally identical except the girl and her grandma are black. Even their dialogue uses the exact same audio, so it's not even like they're different characters. Svengoolie, of all people, mocked this ad on a April 23, 2016 episode of his show.
  • A group of ads for Hot Pockets (thankfully long-gone) depicted people eating a Hot Pocket on the street and being subjected to the same kinds of discrimination and abuse that American minorities suffered prior to and during the Civil Rights Movement - all because they were eating the advertised product without a plate. We'll give you a moment to ponder why that didn't sit well with anybody.
  • The infamous I Am Autism commercial from Autism Speaks was an homage to the 1948 "Taming the Crippler" Public Service Announcement, which was about polio. Aside from the fact that it grossly misrepresents this neurological disorder (as most of the company's promotional material does), treating it like an actual deadly disease along the lines of AIDS or cancer, it barely gives any information as to what autism actually is other than just making it sound as if it completely reduces a child to nothing more than a source of strife and misery and promising to fight against it. It's also accompanied by unrelated home videos of kids, as if they could potentially be "blighted" by autism, none of which fit the ominous tone of the message. The ad was pulled due to the intense backlash, but a transcript can be read here. The Mysterious Mr. Enter (himself having Asperger's Syndrome) criticizes the ad point by point in essay and video form.
  • In 1999, the fast-growing shoe retailer Just for Feet decided to create an utterly racist commercial for the Super Bowl in lieu of a contest where one lucky person who called in during the third quarter during the ad could win a Hummer. The ad depicted a group of white men in a Humvee hunting down a barefoot black runner in the Kenyan savanna, then giving him a cup of drugged water, and forcibly putting sneakers on him while he is unconscious, followed by him waking up and screaming as he tries to get them off. Needless to say, it launched a major controversy, and was so bad that the company sued their ad agency for showing the ad at the Super Bowl and insisting that it would have a positive reception among the public. The ad wound up showing during the fourth quarter, and the website and contest hotline weren't updated to deal with this fact. It led to the company becoming a pariah, despite having a great concept for their stores, and a year later they filed for bankruptcy and were bought out by the now-defunct Footstar. It landed the number 1 spot on Cracked's 2014 article "The 5 Most Disastrous Marketing Failures of All Time", describing it as "creepy", "racist", and "insulting towards its own product".
  • If you live in one of a handful of major cities in the United States, chances are you've heard the Kars-4-Kids ad on the radio at least once, which is one time too many. The incredibly grating jingle has two versions: one sung out of key by a child who sounds bored out of his skull and another with a child having an Auto-Tuned voice. The ads make no mention of the fact that the money is donated exclusively to yeshivas and Hasidic causes, understandably frustrating anyone who might need that money and either isn't Jewish or not of that denomination. On top of that, the video version of the ad (featuring precocious kids that seemingly were ripped out of a Life With Mikey-esque casting room miming instrument playing terribly) is played seemingly every inning during the local SNY broadcasts of Mets games and has as much hate by Mets fans as they have for the team's owner, Fred Wilpon.
    John Oliver: Shut up! Shut up! What is this charity? You're kids! You can't fucking drive! What money laundering scheme are you operating?
  • Littlewoods' 2011 Christmas advert attempted to be charming and sweet, but ended up being remembered as one of the worst Christmas adverts ever made. In it, children in a school play sing an ill-conceived song about the one who brings the presents at Christmas time. No, not Father Christmas and his sack of toys, but mum and her Littlewoods purchases. The ad received a huge backlash from outraged viewers, who accused Littlewoods of ruining the magic of Christmas, and that's without getting into the inherently cynical nature of replacing something so innocent with cold hard cash. Ad Turds gives his take here.
  • Locker Room Meltdown is a failure on several levels — badly acted, badly narrated, and barely related to the product (Kraft Meltdowns, a short-lived line of microwavable nachos).
  • Miracle Mattress, a San Antonio-based mattress shop, posted an incredibly insensitive and unfunny ad in 2016 on their Facebook page. The ad had two men asking a woman about a "twin tower" sale. She then pushed the two men into stacks of mattresses, knocking them over, and then ended the commercial with "We'll never forget". This ad gained a ton of Internet Backdraft, resulting in the shop shutting down.
  • Miracle Whip had their "We Will Not Tone It Down" and "Don't Be So Mayo" ad campaigns, both particularly vexing cases of The Man Is Sticking It to the Man. Marketing Miracle Whip as a wonderful condiment for Hipsters, playing an Animal Collective rip-off in the background, and attempting to play up the brand as a cool and revolutionary new flavor just didn't work, especially as the Straw Loser who doesn't eat Miracle Whip was the only unique-looking person in the commercial. Stephen Colbert ridiculed the campaign on his show, pointing out that preferring another spread over mayonnaise isn't rebellious or cool, and even made an equally absurd pro-mayo commercial to prove the point. Afterwards, Kraft mistakenly decided to double down, buying ad time on Colbert's show to rerun their ads and creating this response to Colbert's attack, calling him "so mayo"; while possibly intended to show they were good sports and had a sense of humor about the "rivalry", it instead came off as needlessly whiny and defensive, and the original video (which had a ratio of 10/90-percent likes to dislikes) was deleted from the official Miracle Whip channel.
  • Nationwide Insurance's second contribution to the 2015 Super Bowl advertisement lineup was an ad that attempted to school parents about preventable home accidents, but ended up backfiring spectacularly. The advert starts off with whimsical Imagine Spots, as it shows a young boy lamenting about how he'll NEVER learn to ride a bike, catch cooties, fly, or get married...not because he's intimidated, but because he died in an accident. The advertisement then follows this with a grim montage of an overflowed bathtub, some spilled cleaning supplies, and a fallen-over television. The ad was horribly tasteless in its execution, especially within the context of Super Bowl advertising (which is usually funny at best and uplifting at worst), and came under fire for using dead children to sell insurance. Added Fridge Horror when you consider that plenty of parents whose kids had really died must have been watching certainly did nothing at all to help (the implication that the boy - who looks to be about ten - died from either of those accidents shown, which are more like things a two-year-old would die from, doesn't help matters either). Within minutes of the ad's airing, it received tons of backlash on social media networks like Twitter, and many were quick to make its Mood Whiplash punchline into a meme (before the game was even over!), as well as label it one of the worst advertisements ever. It was small wonder, then, that Nationwide was conspicuously absent from the Super Bowl ad lineup the following year.
  • The environmentalist short film No Pressure by 10:10 (directed by Richard Curtis) is perhaps the most catastrophic failure in the history of "edgy" humor. It depicts several groups talking about ways to reduce carbon emission, with those who don't want to participate or are simply uncertain about the whole matter being told "That's okay - no pressure." or a variant thereof. The authority in the group pulls out or is given a small black box with a red button and presses it, blowing up those who opted out. This, and the compliants' reactions, are realistic and played completely straight; said authorities (and, in the next-to-last scene, the compliants as well) carry on as though they didn't just murder people (possibly because they didn't consider said people as actually being people). Worse is the ending a voiceover by Gillian Anderson, who herself is blown up for believing the voiceover was her contribution to 10:10. It conveyed such a clear contempt for those who don't toe their line on climate change that, coupled with all of the above, meant not even fellow environmentalist groups were willing to side with 10:10. More Fridge Horror: The ad campaign has the implication of environmentalists being terrorists who will make civilians explode violently in a terrorist bombing.
  • Ouya's "Sixty bucks for a game?" Packed to the rafters with stereotypes, vulgarity, and gore, the ad hurls insults at consumers of rivaling media yet has little to say about the product it's trying to sell. Nowadays, Ouya are calling No True Scotsman on it, despite it having been featured on their official YouTube channel (before the negative reception it got convinced them to set it to Private)... which is probably for the best, as it's apparently driven customers away. It's often seen as one of the many reasons why the once highly-anticipated console wound up flopping badly when it was finally released.
  • Oven Pride: So easy, a man can do it! Absolutely abominable because, apart from the suggestion that a woman's place is in the kitchen because cleaning's far too complicated for men, it presents what has to be the world's most miserable married couple - she seems perpetually infuriated, while he seems to have had over half his cerebrum torn out. The man goes on to use said product with an inane, slack-jawed grin on his face. If the roles were switched here, this would've never made it to air... but despite all this, the annoying chuckle at the end still manages to be the worst part. Another product by the same company, this one for cleaning showers and baths, is also widely reviled for giving the same backhanded message.
  • In what seemed to be an attempt to connect with politically active millennials during a time of major protests against police brutality, Pepsi released an ill-thought out ad featuring Kendall Jenner that showed her watching a crowd of protesters holding vague, nondescript signs like "Peace" and "Join the Conversation," and culminated with Jenner walking up to a riot cop and handing him a Pepsi as the protesters cheer her on. Pepsi pulled the ad after fierce Internet Backdraft, and released a public apology. The damage was done, though, as it was quickly spoofed by a Saturday Night Live skit, a play-by-play commentary on the ad by Stephen Colbert on his show, and an "alternate ending" on Late Night with Seth Meyers.
  • In 1993, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada note  ran an ad perceived to be mocking Liberal leader Jean Chrétien's facial deformity, caused by Bell's palsy. The backlash was immediate and furious, with the ad being pulled in 24 hours and then-Prime Minister Kim Campbell apologizing for it. Chrétien used the ad to his benefit, referencing his facial deformity and the bullying he had suffered in childhood because of it in speeches that moved the voting audience and caused support to swing to the Liberal party. Chrétien won the election in a landslide, and the Tories were decimated, losing all but two seats and, with it, official party status and all the benefits that come with it. Campbell, who lost her Vancouver riding, resigned soon after the election, to be replaced by future Quebec prime minister Jean Charest, who was in one of the two aforementioned seats. The Tories trundled on for ten years, utterly unelectable because of the "face ad" among other things, before merging with the Canadian Alliance to form the modern Conservative Party. Here is the ad in question, and here is a news report regarding the controversy.
  • The Quietus ads for tinnitus, which attempts to emulate it throughout the whole goddamn ad. Lord knows why - if you have tinnitus, you already know what the hell it sounds like; if you don't have it, you're not the one buying Quietus.
    • And it doesn't help that the product's name is a euphemism for suicide in Hamlet, and was the name of a suicide pill in Children of Men.
    • Though it seems like the makers of the drug have learned from this blunder, and produced a later version of the ad that lacked that incessant noise altogether. [5]
  • The ads for RockAuto has some pretty bad animation with dialogue that sounds like it originated from a radio ad. In one of the ads, one of the characters had his car's window skewed in a impossible way and having to sell his action figures and letting others rent out his dog!
    "I need new struts for my 2000 Toyota. Let me see struts by AC Delco, Monroe and... any UNDER 50 dollars."
    "Uh....We might be able to get some struts from the warehouse, uh..."
    "Why watch the countermand tap on his computer and hope he chooses the right part?"
  • Sales Genie released not one, but two Super Bowl commercials that are not only blatantly racist and out of the times, but also soul-suckingly humorless.
    • The first shows an Indian telemarketer using the service to improve sales. This would be funny, if it wasn't for A) him speaking with a stereotypical Indian accent; B) him having to feed a stereotypically large Indian family; and C) the ad insulting Americans who were losing their jobs to outsourcing offices in India and China at the time.
    • And if the first one wasn't bad enough, Sales Genie released another the following year, this time ripping on Chinese families by portraying them as fat panda bears who speak broken English in possibly one of the most stereotypical Chinese accents ever.
  • This is just one from a series of utterly bizarre ads by Southern Comfort for one of their new drinks. They're all totally nonsensical, involving people shouting "SHOTTASoCo" note  incessantly, and are animated atrociously, invoking Uncanny Valley every second and looking like something out of a half-assed Unity engine Steam game. It's hard to comprehend what anybody was thinking during the creation of these things.
  • Rick Perry's infamous Strong commercial is a rambling Author Tract regarding Barack Obama's supposed "War on Religion" and "knows there's something wrong when" his kids "can't pray in school and can't openly celebrate Christmas" (absolutely bogus claims in the overwhelmingly Christian nation that is the United States) and yet complains that gays can serve in the military at the same time. It may have been the reason his campaign ended as early as it did.
  • The beyond awful 2011 "Hail to the V" commercials for Summer's Eve douche, featuring women's hands miming talking vaginas, insulting racial stereotypes, and the scorching tagline "show a little love for your vertical smile". The ads were quickly pulled. Watch them lampooned on The Colbert Report here.
    • Another ad, for the same company's body wash, speeds through the relevant information in under six seconds, then dedicates the rest of the 30-second run-time to an unfunny, barely-related montage built around a single joke.
  • Tetley Bitter beer's UK "You've got to hand it to them" ads were among many British commercials that attempted to appeal to the audience's sense of humour. Trouble is, they just weren't funny. Thankfully, they were dropped after just two ads.
    • The first involved a group of Tetley-drinking friends annoying the groundskeeper at a golf course. Later in the bar, he tells them he's responsible for the greens and one of the drinkers makes a lame Pun about vegetables.
    • The second was even worse. A Tetley drinker returns from a Florida holiday and gives his friend a workbench vice (aka vise). Why? Because his friend's favourite TV show is Miami Vice. Apart from being a lousy pun, it doesn't even make sense that anyone would want to put a heavy steel tool in their check-in baggage (imagine the surcharge!) just for the sake of a lame gag.
  • During the 2016 Presidential Election (please be careful, people who voted for any of the candidates come here) one thing that all sides definitely agreed on was that the anti-Trump ad "Tuck Frump" was a perfect representation of the worst of Trump's opposition. Beginning with a very young girl imploring Trump to "shut the fuck up", the ad proceeds to blast Trump for making statements that could be interpreted as personal attacks... while making plenty of personal attacks against him. Some of the things that the ad claims Trump to have said are blatantly fabricated note , and numerous response videos have been made to debunk the fallacious claims. The ad on YouTube has less than 1,000 likes and over 65,000 dislikes as of October 2016, and the comments are almost unanimously negative, with even people who don't like Donald Trump expressing dislike for the ad.
  • The notorious 2012 ad for Canadian beer Uptown Girl is one of the most complained-about and ridiculed commercials this side of Grey Power. The commercial is horribly obviously low-budget - there's two pieces of narration throughout (the sole difference between them being the presence of a cringe-worthy tagline), and extremely boring techno music accompanies rather creepy shots of girls dancing in slow-motion (with emphasis on boobs), and shots of condensation- and handprint-covered beer bottles. The ads were pulled after a month and it still is routinely recognized as one of the worst Canadian commercials of all time.
  • This ad for a bathroom service named Walk-in-Tubs is of a very low quality. The music is just a looping generic theme from a stock music site, the audio quality (especially when S. Ward gives her opinions, it's very hard to tell what she's saying even at maximum volume) is laughably horrible, and the stock effects and sound are extremely cheap and low budget. And the number at the bottom changes every time the ad is shown. A 30-second version was also made, with bad acting and all of the problems of the full version.
  • Wendy's came out with an ad about their new chicken sandwich and showing everyone's reaction to how good it is. The problem? The "reactors" are incredibly exaggerated caricatures of people on the internet. For example, the "memer" says "Eats Spicy Goodness LIKE A BOSS" (and yes, the Impact font is actually present) and the "selfiers" being obnoxious valley girls who can't resist taking a selfie OF their selfie. But what really pushes this ad into Horrible territory is the last part where the feature the "behind-the-timeser", who uses incredibly outdated slang, which shows that the makers of this ad have no self-awareness about how much they're pandering AND how hypocritical they're being.
  • The notorious You Wouldn't Steal a Car spot has been used in many DVDs. The commercial compares stealing several items to stealing movies on the Internet, a comparison which is the exact opposite of what anti-piracy lawyers are trying to get the juries to think. You also couldn't skip the ad, making it even more annoying and patronising. But what makes it truly horrible is the hypocrisy on display - while trying to say "Hey, piracy's bad.", it used music without the original artist's permission. And to compound this even further, said music is Suspiciously Similar to "No Man Army" by The Prodigy. Watch "Commercials I Hate" tear it to shreds here. It was also spoofed by BBC Radio 6 Music's Adam & Joe in the "Song Wars" segment, with a song entitled "The Mind of a Pirate". The IT Crowd also parodied the absurdity of the ads here.

    Other Ad Forms 
  • The preview for Sam & Max Hit the Road that was included on the Star Wars: Rebel Assault disc is plain horrid. The narrator sounds like he's bored out of his mind and just reading his lines off a sheet of paper with no enthusiasm, the voice recording is of poor quality (normally, voice recordings in LucasArts games were of high quality even in DOS games), and the preview doesn't tell you anything about the game. It shows random out-of-context clips, with very vague descriptions like "Highway Adventure Game". And for reasons unknown, when the LucasArts logo appears, creepy, futuristic music starts playing that doesn't fit the game's mood whatsoever.
  • Any snail-mail spam sent in an envelope deliberately designed to resemble envelopes used for official government documents. Depending on the local laws and the degree of resemblance, this may not even be legal, but in some regions of the US it's both legally grey and a fairly popular tactic. Additional shame goes to those who disguise the contents as an official government document as well. Consumer Reports occasionally wall-of-shames these in their back-page feature "Selling It" between humorous typos and absurdly spacious packaging. Joel Spolsky has a blog article entitled "How Many Lies Can You Find In One Direct Mail Piece?" that details a particularly good example of snail-mail spam meant to resemble an important-looking FedEx package.
    • It gets worse. Some telephone companies, particularly Comcast/DirectTV, have started disguising their advertisement mail imploring you to switch as important messages or offers from your current phone and internet provider. They particularly like to do this in areas where rival companies AT&T and Verizon dominate. Consumer Reports has several examples of this, and other, underhanded Comcast ad tactics under their "Comcastic" tag. The worst part is, this might not even be legal in some places, and is dubiously grey in others.
  • "Robocalls", telemarketing messages that play a pre-recorded message to a bunch of phones at once by using a mass autodialer. Before, it was always possible to tell a human telemarketer "I'm not interested. Don't call this number again." Now these calls are computerized so there is no person to hear you yell "Please quit calling this number!" These numbers have been plaguing US citizens more and more in recent years, to the point where the US government made it a felony to advertise over the phone via pre-recorded message without written consent, or if you are a church, charity, or political cause.
    • Even worse is that ISP- and cell phone-blocking software is ineffective because these calls spoof the information on the caller ID and call from a different number every time. The worst is calling from a blocked or hidden number, or spoofing the number so it appears as "911" or something else important.
    • This is only a minor annoyance on a household landline, but it is a big annoyance on a cell phone, with it eating at your data cap and all, and a major cause of concern for businesses because the calls can tie up their lines and prevent business from occurring.
    • The New '10s have seen the increasing prevalence of robocalls programmed to make you initially mistake them for actual people calling by using voice recognition. Usually, they begin with something along the lines of "Is this the home of [insert name here]?", and when the person receiving the call responds, the robocall is programmed to proceed with its advertising spiel in response. The robocall may even ask something like "Is anyone there?" in response to silence in order to make them seem more like people being ignored. What makes these particularly terrible is that they not only have the annoyances of standard robocalls, but they actually fail at even robocall standards thanks to the new features. If you do manage to send the call to someone willing to listen to whole robocalls, then the voice activation will just confuse and annoy them. Yet the effort to get everyone else to continue listening fails once they realize it's automated, meaning the effort the robocall programmers put into including the voice recognition feature is completely pointless.
    • One particular robocall that's been making the rounds in recent months is a scam call stating that the IRS is suing you and that you need to call back to resolve the issue. While the call seems convincing enough, it not only makes this list for being a blatant scam, but also for the fact that the IRS only contacts people through written letters, rendering the whole attempt futile.
  • Fax machines might be a bit old-fashioned these days, but they're not completely obsolete, and a number of people like to send adverts to them. Does anyone appreciate having their paper wasted like this? This is a very special sort of bad ad, as it may be the only form of advertisement that, by consuming paper and ink, costs the viewer money.
  • To promote the game Virus, some marketing group had the smart idea of creating a joke program called "Russ", which imitates your computer being affected by a file-deleting virus. By the time you're probably in full chaos/panic mode, the ad says "Thank god this is only a game." and shills the product. People were understandably pissed when this was revealed. See this ad in action.
  • Nintendo of America's "This Game Stinks" print campaign for EarthBound was a failure. It tried to emphasize Toilet Humor as a selling point, which failed to appeal to the young adult audience that they were going for. Nintendo put scratch 'n' sniff cards into gaming magazines, but they were intentionally made to smell bad. The ads also carried such genius taglines as, "Comes with more rude smells than the ol' pull my finger joke". The ad is considered to be one of the main reasons why the game was a commercial failure in North America; while the game did eventually achieve Cult Classic status, the effects of the ill-advised "This Game Stinks" campaign may still be felt today with MOTHER 3 having yet to receive an official English release.