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Major Minor Inconvenience
Are you tired of having your hands cut off by snowblowers? And the inevitable heart attacks that come with shoveling snow?
— Mr. Plow, The Simpsons, 1992

Typical ad pitch.

Whereas some commercials try to show how great life will be after you've bought their product, this commercial takes a different approach: it shows you how horrendously inconvenient your life was before you bought the product.

Normally, this appears very, very cheesy. Expect the "before" shot to be in grainy, poorly focused black-and-white, with clumsy-sounding tuba music optional. The "after" shot, however, will be in glorious Technicolor, with tinkling keyboard music mandatory.

Also expect the "before" to be something you never thought of as a problem before, or is only a problem if you're the kind of person who should not be out in public without a government-appointed handler. Particularly, when the product is a time-saving kitchen gadget, the 'before' shot shows a level of utter incompetence that's often jarring — for more on this, see Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket.


Examples:

  • Pick an infomercial. Any informercial.
  • Pick one of those "As Seen On TV" type ads. Such as the lady who, in supposedly hot weather, steps right into her car and puts her hands on the steering wheel. You deserve to have your hand burned, lady.
  • Those Visa commercials that show how horribly inconvenient it is to use cash. Evidently, they take place in some sort of parallel universe where credit card transactions immediately process. There was even a line for the Visa Check Card aimed at the inconvenience of using checks as payment. This includes the famous "rabbit" commercial.
  • As a matter of fact, Listerine invented Halitosis as a way to convince people that they needed a painful oral antiseptic. No one had any gripes with bad breath before Listerine hit the market. Technically, halitosis exists, but it's a sign of real (but rare) medical issues like infection or a serious dental problem and mouthwash doesn't do much to avert it.
  • RCN commercials in the DC Metro area are exactly like this, comparing other companies to a 1950s era of unreliability in terms of TV, phone and Internet connections (complete with black-and-white versus RCN's high-color happy fun land of speedy connections).
  • "Well, either you're closing your eyes / To a situation you do not wish to acknowledge / Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated / By the presence of a pool table in your community." Professor Harold Hill, The Music Man.
  • Every commercial that has ever included the question "Has this ever happened to you?", and the often-parodied old-fashioned vaccuum cleaner salesman.
  • Evidently there is some great "denture adhesive strips vs. denture adhesive paste" rivalry in the ad business, as this trope runs in both directions. "Aren't you tired of strips never fitting quite right, all day long?" "Aren't you tired of struggling to scrub the paste off your dentures every night?" In unison: "Well those days are over!"
  • A print ad for a photography studio showed a before-and-after, supposedly showing how their airbrushing techniques will transform you from dull to beautiful. Now, the "before" picture was Hollywood Homely at best, and do you know what the only noticeable difference was (although, admittedly, this made a surprisingly huge difference, leading someone who didn't analyze the ad too closely to believe that there was actually something going on there)? In the "before" picture, the model was scowling a little bit, while in the "after", she was smiling. Yes, you too can learn how to smile! I think this might be required for all before-and-after photos. When weight loss is being advertised, more flattering outfits are also required for the "after". Amazing, the magic of a smile!
  • One infomercial for a magnetic pen medallion tried to demonstrate how difficult and inconvenient normal pens are. One part of the advertisement attempted to demonstrate how "impossible" the action of putting a cap on a pen was.
  • Snuggies are sold under the principle that normal blankets are too hard to use. And under the principle that hooded sweatshirts do not exist at all. And under the principle that "one size fits all" will work for something that's got sleeves AND legs. There's going to be a lot of extra cloth somewhere... And you're going to trip on it.
  • The X-Paste Toothpaste Dispenser calls attention to the crippling difficulty of applying toothpaste to a toothbrush directly from a tube.
  • Satirized by Mr. Show's "Mayostard" and "Mustardaise" commercial sketches, where the inconvenience is applying mayonnaise and mustard to a sandwich out of separate jars.
  • Appeared on Friends when Joey got an acting gig on one such infomercial. "Those flim-flammed milk cartons are so hard to open!"
  • Jon Stewart used this as a subject for his stand-up. "Oh, that's what's been missing from my life! Not enough lemon scent!"
  • The Easy Feet commercial goes on and on about how difficult it is to clean your feet in the shower, showing a man hopping on one foot and almost falling down. Yep, Easy Feet was created because cleaning your feet properly is nearly impossible.
  • A stamps.com commercial features the line "There's nothing worse than going to the post office and waiting in line." Looks like somebody's been leading a charmed life.
  • The Sleep Number Bed commercials start out describing how normal mattress stores only tell you where the mattresses are, but the Sleep Number Bed salespeople "diagnose" their customers for the mattress that's right for them because sleeping on anything else must be torture.
  • An ad on The Simpsons for the "juice loosener" suggests that without said product, the only way to get juice from an orange is to painfully squeeze it against your forehead. Indeed, Homer was unaware of any other way.

Made Of ShinyBasic Commercial TypesThe Man Is Sticking It to the Man

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