This game sucks and anyone who likes it sucks. Penny Arcade sucks and is as funny as something that's not funny at all.
—Advertising slogan for Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness
Don't buy our product. No really, don't. It costs a lot, looks like the back end of a geriatric warthog, guzzles fuel by the gallon, tastes of stale cardboard and will make you look like a fool in front of the ladies. This might well be the worst product ever.
At least, that's what these
people say. Do you agree? Perhaps you should try it for yourself and see what the controversy is about
Yes, while most commercials are based around making it look like the product is the best thing under the sun, a rare few accept that the thing they advertise is not universally loved.
This can be done as a Take That
against their detractors, or to give the product that "lovable underdog" image.
May function as Schmuck Bait
. Compare with Commercial Switcheroo
, where the crappiness of the product is only in contrast to the real
thing being advertised, and Never Needs Sharpening
, where the flaw is spun into a supposed asset. Not to be confused with Reverse Psycho
Contrast Strawman Product
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- "Oh, the disadvantages of the new Benson & Hedges 100's"
- Scion once embraced the most common complaint leveled against their cars (the boxiness) with a series of "Love it or Loathe it" ads. Funny they didn't run for long.
- Marmite advertises itself with the phrase "You either Love It or Hate It". Some of their ads have included a homeless man throwing away a sandwich because it had Marmite in it, and a guy gagging and retching after kissing his girlfriend because she's been eating Marmite.
- Before that they had an "I hate Marmite" version of their "My mate Marmite" adverts.
- Grape Nuts cereal has long played up the "people will think there's something wrong with you if you eat this" angle, then go on to boast that consumers won't even hear the criticism thanks to the cereal's crunchiness.
- One vitamin drink advertised itself as tasting disgusting. One ad had a blindfolded man drinking it, and a... sample from a puddle in the men's room. He said 'I can't tell the difference. Must be made by the same people.'
- In Finland one magazine advertising campaign for blue cheese said "Some people lust for it all the time..." on one page, and "...some hate it with passion" on the next.
- Snapple! Proud to be the #3 drink brand in America (behind, it's implied, Coke and Pepsi), because unlike #1 and #2, 3 understands that not everyone likes the same thing (hence all the flavors).
- Similarly, back in The Sixties, Avis was #2 in the car rental business (behind Hertz), and proudly advertised this with their slogan "We're only #2, but we try harder." Until recently, they still used 'We Try Harder' as a slogan, though have dropped to third beneath Enterprise.
- Sprite won't give you a wonderful life, you won't be any more popular with the girls than before, you won't become an awesomely X-TREME skateboarder. It's just plain lemon-lime soda. Obey your thirst!
- Tango took a different slant: "Too much Tango made me think I was a ninja. But I'm not. I'm just Gary."
- Carl's Jr.'s (or Hardee's, depending on where you live) slogan, "If it doesn't get all over the place, it doesn't belong in your face," does in fact point out that their burgers are sloppy and very messy.
- It tastes awful. And it works."
- "Buckley's. It's #1, but it tastes like #2."
- The accompanying television commercials show a montage of people reacting to the taste of the cough syrup, some of them looking like they are going to heave.
- TV commercials and print ads for Brown & Haley Mountain Bars featured people recoiling in horror from the product with the slogan "They're only ugly until you taste them."
- Microsoft had a campaign like this for Windows Vista. The problem being, even in acknowledging that everybody thinks Vista sucks, they still come off as arrogant, with ad banner slogans like "At one time, everybody thought the world was flat. Get the facts on Windows Vista."
- Around the time Office XP came out, Microsoft ran a series of Flash cartoons in its website mocking the much-hated paperclip-shaped default assistant in Microsoft Word, and explaining how he was going away in the next version of Office (to the relief of the other characters).
- Subverted in recent ads for UK breakfast cereal "Oats & More"; the slogan is "You won't like it", the idea being that people who taste it try to convince others not to have any, so there's more for them.
- The whole point of most of the Arch Deluxe commercials was "Kids think this burger is nasty"; adults were supposed to assume that they should love it.
- Miller ran an ad suggesting that men under thirty hated their beer in order to pitch it as a product for sophisticated, discerning consumers.
- In what might be a Parody Commercial, the new ad campaign for casual dining restaurant Ruby Tuesday. In the first, they make the claim that the "sea of sameness" in the casual dining industry caused them to demolish a competing restaurant by mistake. In a more recent commercial, they announce their changes which will separate them from other restaurants, including such revolutionary changes as switching from gaudy round-shaded lamps to gaudy square-shaded lamps. We're still not sure if these are meant to be serious, subversive, or just stupid.
- Maybe they just noticed the trope in action in their previous commercials and just decided to hang a lampshade on it? So to speak.
- Old Spice men's products run ads that play up the brand's (perceived) lameness, with Bruce Campbell doing a lounge act and Neil Patrick Harris saying "I used to be a doctor for pretends." Eventually, this pattern of self-parody somehow morphed into The Man Your Man Could Smell Like campaign: while that sounds impossible, watching the ads from over the years clearly shows a gradual evolution.
- An ad attempting to introduce guava juice to the Australian market had a slogan that was something like "Looks disgusting. Tastes delicious".
- The Canadian music channel MuchMusic periodically ran self-deprecating commercials in the 90s. One such ad showed clips of people—most of them notably older than the target demographic—saying how much they disliked the channel, followed by the slogan "MuchMusic. Not everyone's cup of tea." Another commercial invited applications for internships by showing a hapless young intern being "accepted as part of the team" (the other staff mock him behind his back) and "given important responsibilities" (like cleaning toilets).
- In Australia in the early 2000s, Volvo made TV ads appropriating the often-heard phrase "Bloody Volvo driver!"
- Another Australian example - the Picnic chocolate bar. The main slogan was "Deliciously Ugly" - because it is delicious but, to be frank, looks almost exactly like a turd. Other slogans seen on billboards included "The Reason Wrappers Were Invented", "It Has A Good Personality", and "Tonsil Mud Wrestling" (bizarre, yes).
- Another Australian example is Rivers advertising their crocs, saying things like "Now the whole family can look ugly together".
- HeadOn, placebo to the masses, has a commercial that starts like any of its others ("HeadOn! Apply directly to the forehead!") only for a very irate man to appear on-screen and practically scream the slogan a few times and say "HeadOn! I hate your commercials, but I love your product!"
- V8 uses many people's distaste for their regular vegetable juice blend to promote their Fusion fruit/vegetable juice blends.
- Listerine antiseptic mouthwash famously used the slogan "The taste you hate, twice a day" before eventually introducing a mint flavored variation. A later commercial still admitted the unpleasantness of the product, featuring a voice-over encouraging a wincing man to endure the burning sensation of the mouthwash for thirty seconds.
- One ad for Skoda when they were being reintroduced and made cool had a man looking for his car in a car park, and being met by another man who told him in a horrified voice that the car had been vandalized: "I'm so sorry... they stuck a Skoda badge on it." The campaign slogan was "It's a Skoda. Honest."
- The main thrust of the Skoda reintroduction campaign was that since the takeover by Volkswagen, Skoda cars now used VW components and were essentially Volkswagens in all but the name and price.
- Dr. Pepper, what's the worst that could happen? Drink this; it'll ruin your life. This one's essentially a case of taking the consequences Up to Eleven so no-one could possibly take it seriously.
- Rudy's Barb-B-Q: "Worst Bar-B-Q in Texas!"
- This is actually a sort of sarcastic joke. Legend has it that a woman who had apparently not eaten at or heard of Rudy's, and asked the cahier/pit boss something along the lines of, "Is this any good?" with a very rude tone. The cashier/pit boss was not very impressed, and sarcastically replied, "No, it's the worst Bar-B-Q in Texas." The woman left at that!
- And in a similar vein, the now-defunct Tangerine Cafe in Louisville proudly advertised itself as having the "Worst Food in Kentucky".
- Stone Brewing Company gets a lot of mileage out of advertising that you probably won't like their beer because it's for elite, hard-core beer drinkers only. Their main line is called Arrogant Bastard Ale.
- The label says "You're not worthy."
- The UK television channle E4 routinely mocks the shows and movies it advertises in its promos (voiced by Patrick Allen and, following his death, Peter Dickson), making fun of the plot and montaging character lines to this effect. One such promo features a redubbing of the Ghostbusters theme, implying that everyone has already seen the movie and should only watch it again if they have nothing better to do. They even go so far as to suggest renting a DVD or going to the pub instead. Another for the series How I Met Your Mother implies that it is simply a rip-off of Friends.
- Red Stripe: The beer in the ugly bottle that makes you look good in comparison, you don't even have to drink it, you just look better holding it.
- Bullfrog Power has recently started an ad campaign whose motto is "Pay more for energy." The idea being that you pay more to help the environment, and it does cost more, but really... "use us because we're more expensive"?
- Robert Guillaume used to do ads for Florida grapefruit juice saying "It's good for you, but nobody likes the taste. Well now there's New and Improved..."
- For a Columbia, South Carolina peanut store: "Cromer's, Guaranteed Worst In Town!" They've used this tagline since The Great Depression. Funnily enough, the tag actually came from a competitor who was bashing them to a customer; the proprieter of Cromer's heard about it and adopted it out of sheer cheek. The competitor has long since gone out of business.
- There's a restaurant in Cleveland called Night Town which used to have radio ads that said "Not a great restaurant, but consider the alternatives."
- A restaurant in Amsterdam reads "Mister Coco's: Lousy Food and Warm Beer"!
- There's a Canadian bar called Squirrel Toothed Alice's with a similar slogan.
- Maybe they're just trying to appeal to the English tourist market?
- Miracle Whip has a new commercial featuring celebrities which love Miracle Whip and celebrities who think it's disgusting.
- The old Norwegian soft drink Solo used to parody other soft drink ads and engage in a bit of Self-Deprecation by reminding you that it's just a soft drink, not a solution for all your problems.
- For instance, an opera singer is screeching terribly off-key in an awful scratchy voice until she takes a big swig of Solo... and then she goes on torturing the song (and our ears) the same way she was before.
- In another, a marathon biker is losing the race badly until he takes a swig of Solo... and then even feeble old senior citizens and little kids (on tricycles) continue to outrace him.
- A man is out fishing with his son when the boat's motor fails. He tries repeatedly to start it until he takes a swig of his son's Solo... And then the motor *does* start, only to fall off the boat.
- There's an ad for Orbit gum that implies that using the product will give one's girlfriend the impression that one is cheating on her, possibly with a farm animal.
- Domino's has ads about kids hating their speciality pizzas to advertise an added medium pizza.
- A Listerine commercial from the late 70s has a gentleman recruited to tell what he thinks of the product, which he does in forced niceties, only to be cut off short. He then tells what he really thinks—"It works, but it tastes crummy!!"
- This 1989 commercial for Coco Wheats describes the cereal as being terrifyingly ugly, to the point where children only eat it blindfolded or in the dark.
- A Meijer store commercial features a kid first tasting the "national-brand spinach", going "eww, yuck!", then tasting the Meijer-brand spinach...and going "eww, yuck!" The tagline is: The only difference is the price.
- The normalman omnibus collection features choice quotes from positive reviews on the back cover, as well as one from a bad review that derides the comic as "sophomoric and juvenile".
- A (vaguely remembered) commercial for Joe Dirt once consisted entirely of negative reviews.
- This Jackass: Number Two trailer.
- A poster for David Lynch's Lost Highway referenced its bad reviews from Siskel and Ebert, stating, "Two Thumbs Down. Two more great reasons to see Lost Highway!"
- Austin Powers II: The Spy Who Shagged Me came out in the same summer as Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. A trailer for the former announced, "If you see one movie this summer, see Star Wars. If you see two, see Austin Powers."
- It didn't continue. Goldmember and Attack of the Clones both came out three years later; the trailers for Goldmember announced "If you see one movie this summer, see Austin Powers. If you see two, see Austin Powers again."
- An extra on the Monty Python and the Holy Grail DVD consists entirely of bad reviews from newspapers.
- The DVD insert of Freddy Got Fingered is covered with utterly horrible reviews...and one okay one.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events is famous for this. Even within the books, the narrator periodically states that the books are very depressing and the reader would be better off reading something else. At one point, he even released a fake review under the name Melony Tesnick slamming one of the books. He has a commentary track on The Movie in which he spends most of the film bagging how awful it is and during the scene with the leeches at Lachrymose Lake, he actually starts singing "Leeches! Leeches! Who would want to watch a movie with leeches?!"
- The reviewer quotes on recent Terry Pratchett novels include "Doesn't even write in chapters ... a complete amateur ... hasn't a clue" from The BBC's Late Review. This prompted him to write the Moist Von Lipwig novels in chapters (complete with anachronistic In Which a Trope Is Described-style openers), just to rub it in the guy's face.
- Mark Steyn's book America Alone contains several laudatory quotes on the back from different reviewers, but the quote on the front cover of the book is from a Saudi Arabian prince, condemning Mark Steyn and his work. Presumably, Mark Steyn's readers take it on good faith that anything that pisses the Saudi royal family off is right up their alley.
- Hey, good guess!
- Steyn's been doing that for most of his political works. One of his essay collections, "The Face of the Tiger", has many more bad reviews from other sources, and includes the Saudi quote on the front cover.
- Similarly, conservative pundit Glenn Beck's book Arguing With Idiots includes a bunch of quotes from liberals insulting him.
- Invoked in the book Big Trouble, in which one character is hired to create an advertisement for a brand of beer called Hammerhead. He designs a poster depicting the face of a hammerhead shark, under which is printed the slogan "Ugly fish. Good beer." It's simple and amusing, but the customer hates it and makes him change it to a picture of two mismatched models in a boat. Everyone likes it better.
- The book jacket of How To Lose Friends And Alienate People by Toby Young contains various quotes highlighting how unlikable and obnoxious the author/protagonist is, such as "I'll rot in hell before I give that little bastard a quote for his book,"; "Toby was always trying to get me to introduce him to my model friends. It was sad really,"; and "I just wish he'd learn some elementary journalism."
- The published version of Geoffrey Chaucer Hath A Blog begins with a poem by "Gower" entitled "Why Ye Sholde Nat Rede This Booke".
- David Hume did this while promoting his philosophy in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. The opening and closing say that Cleanthes, the most orthodox proponent of religion, clearly wins the argument. (In between, however, he loses every point and the skeptical character of Philo carries the day.)
Live Action TV
- Trebek isn't using reverse psychology there; he really would rather no one watch.
- Bob Wilson, host of Creature Features, used to be tell people that they really should be watching something else, going so far as to list suggestions out of TV Guide.
- Similar to the Joe Dirt example above, shortly after The State debuted on MTV and (initially) received wretched reviews, they started running commercials for the show with said negative review quotes, with the cast members crying in the background dramatically as "I Started A Joke" played. Some would argue it was the funniest sketch they did (at least to that point).
- Top Gear:
- When Family Feud first started in 1976, host Richard Dawson would say on Match Game (where he was a regular panelist) that it was the number one show in Guam.
- Tom Lehrer's albums feature quotes from his worst reviews, under the banner "Critical disdain for Tom Lehrer!"
- "Mr. Lehrer's muse is not fettered by such inhibiting factors as taste."
- His second live album was called An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer
- Some of the album jackets (depending on when they were originally issued) also list his other albums, under the heading of "If you did not enjoy this album, you will almost certainly not enjoy..."
- Depeche Mode's singles collections also include less-than-positive critical responses, such as "I have often wondered why God bothered with Depeche Mode" and "What do you expect from this bunch of lame dickheads?"
- Reel Big Fish often sold simple black t-shirts with the slogan "I Hate Reel Big Fish."
- Tim Booth, lead singer of James, can be seen proudly wearing a "James Suck" t-shirt in the Best Of inlay. They've sold plenty more at concerts.
- KMFDM has at least one song per album brimming equally with arrogance and self-mockery, including "KMFDM Sucks!". "Intro" singles out each member by name to lampoon; the chorus says that their music is unoriginal and unlikely to change, but it's worked for so long that there's no point in changing.
- Green Jellö began with the goal of becoming the World's Worst Band, and lampshaded it with the song, and fan-favorite chant, "Green Jellö Sucks!" After a lawsuit from Kraft over the brand name for their gelatin, the band changed the name to Green Jell˙ (the umlaut over the 'y' changes the pronunciation to 'O'). Now the original slogan doubles as a Take That to Jell-O.
- Later, Primus had the slogan "Primus Sucks".
- The cd case for Metallica's single "Whiskey In The Jar" was slathered with the terrible reviews for the double Cover Album it came from, Garage Inc.
- Limp Bizkit's Significant Other opens with a voice saying "You wanted the worst... you got the worst. The one... the only... Limp Bizkit."
- The outro to the album adds: "You wanted the best? Then go get the fuckin' Backstreet Boys album!" And the rest of what the voice says is just insults to the listeners.
- Not quite music, but the cover art for "Monty Python's Contractural Obligation Album" is a white-label record in a dog-eared paper sleeve, with handwritten notations on it that read "Can T.G. do a nice eye-catching cover to help it sell? -E.I." / "Not really worth it. -T.J."
- Brad Sucks is the stage name of indie musician Brad Turcotte.
- At least one Pearls Before Swine book plays with this. The back of one of the book collections has some nasty comments from fellow comic artists about Pastis and his work, with a touch of Self-Deprecation as his own characters zing him about his ego.
- Car Talk does this frequently; among other examples, at the end of the show they announce, "Well, it's happened again: you've wasted another perfectly good hour listening to Car Talk."
- And if you listen via podcast, you also get interstitials letting you know you can download and listen to classic ("and by 'classic,' we mean..." "...old.") episodes via their website. They then mention one of a number of reasons why you might want to do such a thing. ("For example, if you're a dentist and you want to remind your patients that there are worse things than a root canal.")
- Brazilian comedy program Graffite has "The worst program in radio" as its slogan, and the hosts' nickname for the show is "garbage dump". They even get guests to record soundbites criticizing the program.
- An advertising slogan for the nuklear power store insults both the products and the consumers. "Buy some nerd clothes. On the internet. Nerd."
- As well as the page quote, the Penny Arcade game was also advertised with this endorsement: "Penny Arcade sucks and is unfunny. please murder penny arcade and then yourself if you disagree with me." The use of the quote is a Take That against a flamer who repeatedly posted similar comments online.
- Jesus And Mo has a "What They're Saying" section, the final quote being "...humor is humor and this cartoonist doesn't have it." - Karl Giberson.
- The tagline for the webcomic Our Little Adventure is: "Highest quality fantasy for the lowest common denominator."
- Spamusement has a section called What they're saying about Spamusement! - representative quotes include "Who does he think he is? someone funny? nope" and "I would say Syphilis is funnier".
- Quite a few of the [adult swim] bumpers are self-deprecating, often featuring flames and trolls from the message boards. When the network played Saved by the Bell, the network changed its logo to "[crappy 1980's live action tv show network]", after a message board user suggested it.
- Nasty Burger! It's just one letter away from 'tasty'!
- "Yep, it's a Meg Episode. Here's the clicker, nobody would blame you."
- Several episodes of Danger Mouse has the narrator asking the viewers why they're watching this stuff anyway.