This comedy trope
is a kissing cousin of both the Show Within a Show
and the Commercial Switcheroo
. Typically placed immediately at the end of a segment, it seems like the show you're watching has just cut to the mid-show commercial break. However, it quickly becomes evident (ideally in about the time it takes most folks to start getting out of their La-Z-Boy) that the commercial is actually a fake-out, for an absurd or grotesque product.
When done as part of a Sketch Comedy
show, the product can be pretty much anything. When done as part of a more typical comedy, the mock product usually ties into the plot of the show in some fashion. In both cases, the commercial itself is a practical field guide to various Advertising Tropes
, although this tends to be more pronounced in the case of a Sketch Comedy
Compare/contrast with Show Within a Show
, Commercial Switcheroo
and Trailer Spoof
. Real Trailer, Fake Movie
is a subtrope.
For more parodic content, see what The Other Wiki
has to say about parody commercials
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- The Black Butler bonus episode has a parody commercial for Funtom Company dog food and a parody preview for "The Black Sushi Chef" (based off of a parody image in volume 5).
- Magikano and Seto no Hanayome (both directed by Seiji Kishi) parodies commercials reminiscent to the way it's done in Western Animation to get a joke across. Goes something like this: Have a problem? Then, have we the product just for you! See "Before" and "After"; This Product Will Change Your Life so well that you've just gotta have it! But Wait, There's More!: If you call now, you'll get a uselss Free Prize at the Bottom! And all of this for only 9980 yen! So, what are you waiting for? Operators Are Standing By! Call now! To order, please dial Ridiculously Long Number 0000-4155-XXXX-55XX-0000 today! Side Effects Include... sneezing, coughing, vomiting, fainting, zit faces, heart attacks and turning into a green-skinned monster and may vary according to its user. Unreadable Disclaimers or Rattling Off Legals may apply.
- Brazilian comedy group Casseta & Planeta are famous for this. First, they were parody of real commercials. When they started their TV show, they instead created fictional products sold by the "monopolist megaconglomerate" Organizações Tabajara. At a certain point, a rival company, Grupo Capivara, appeared. Since it was the same thing as the original, they were sold to a working-class man, "Seu Creysson" (parodying the fact that a Brazilian airline was sold by $1) and started selling products focused on poor people, such as a "palmtop" which consisted of writing on the person's hand.
- Tim Wilson's Hillbilly Homeboy album ends with a fake commercial advertising an album called "Love Songs for Losers".
- The Firesign Theatre's albums are full of these.
- On "The Further Adventures of Nick Danger", Lieutenant Bradshaw gives a commercial for Loosener's Castor Oil Flakes "with real glycerin vibrafoam! It doesn't just wash your mouth out—it cleans the whole system, right on down the line."
- Their commercial for Bear Whiz bear, from Everything You Know is Wrong, is considered a classic: "As my daddy says, 'son, it's in the water—that's why it's yellow'"
- Boobie Chew is a hormone-filled gum that's supposed to make your breasts grow. "Even works for men!"
- Beauty Queens is full of parody commercials for products like Breast in Show, "Because, 'you're perfect just the way you are,' is what your guidance counselor says. And she's an alcoholic,'" and TV shows like Captains Bodacious IV: Badder and More Bodacious.
Live Action TV
- Both MADtv and Saturday Night Live have employed this concept for years, advertising bogus products in order to make fun of various Advertising Tropes or make fun of a current event (such as the cold opening on the Jonah Hill episode from season 33 where disgraced governor Eliot Spitzer [Bill Hader] advertises a new law firm that deals with sexual court cases, such as injuries from faulty vibrators, U.S. customs seizing German porn, and slip and falls in gay bath houses). For SNL, "Happy Fun Ball" is probably the best-known; MADtv, meanwhile, featured a plush toy called "Tickle Me Emo", an angsty, stereotypically emo version of Elmo from Sesame Street ("You don't understand what I'm going through!"). Other sketch shows, like Fridays, In Living Color!, WB's Hype, and SCTV have done fake commercials, though it can be safe to say SNL and MADtv have the most memorable parodies.
- Bass-o-matic is a strong contender for "best-known SNL parody commercial". It's also one of the first.
- "Hi, I'm Sam Waterson... Robots are everywhere...
- Somethin's always cookin at the Cluckin' Chicken!
- The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer sketches were presented with a listing of fictional sponsors ("Brought to you by Dog Assassin. When you can't bear to put him to sleep, maybe it's time to call Dog Assassin!")
- Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.
- Inverted by the rare spoof commercial to spawn a real product. A 1990 SNL spot pitched the "Chia Head," a sort of Chia Pet treatment to replace lost hair. Five years later, Joseph Enterprises, the novelty's maker, began selling actual Chia Heads modeled after various cartoon characters... and later a version in "tribute" to Barack Obama.
- When Gillette razors invented the dual blade razors, SNL spoofed them with their ad for triple bladed razors, because you'll buy anything! Twenty years later, real razors now offer five bladed models.
- "Get a Nike(y) Turkey, and PUMP IT!" (parody of Reebok Pumps)
- The TBS show ''Tush', which was modeled loosely on SNL, routinely did a parody commercial or three per show.
- The episode of Roseanne that parodies fifties sitcoms also features parodies of fifties commercials.
- In Monty Python's Flying Circus, the animated links included memorable parody commercials for such products as Whizzo Butter (now with 10% more less, and completely indistinguishable from a dead crab). Crelm Toothpaste (with the miracle ingredient Fraudulin) shows up in two different episodes, once as part of a Commercial Switcheroo that starts with American Defense and moves on to Shrill Petrol, and the second time with Sex for Product testimonials from fire-breathing dragons. Episode 5 has a parody of the old Charles Atlas ads.
- Jasper Carrott's BBC show Canned Carrott had a fake 'End of Part One/Two' section and spoof ads. Being a BBC show, with no 'real' paid advertisements, the director had free rein to cut up real commercials and splice spoof sections in (like Jasper borrowing a friend's new Renault and taking it rallying, with predicable consequences), without any conflict of interest.
- The Goodies would always have a couple of fake ads halfway through each episode, such as the ill-fated Heinz Meinz Beans boy.
- Buy new low suds Mold...or we send the boys round.
- Harvest Moon, the scent that lingers. Buy some, or we'll break your fingers.
- A housewife is cleaning up a dirty floor, when a lady comes in with "Fairy Puff" detergent. The lady instantly starts to smear detergent all over, making a far bigger mess than there was before. Frustrated, the housewife takes out a gun from the window, and shoots her. "If someone interrupts you when you're cleaning the house, use our guns!"
- A shot of a car and a voice-over saying "We put a gallon of economy petrol in this car. Let's see how far it goes." The camera followed the car driving around for a little bit, before it reached a banner saying 'TWENTY MILES'. The car was just about to drive through...and then crashed into the banner. "For strong paper, buy from us!"
- That last one was a parody of an actual petrol advert from the time, which showed a car breaking through paper banners every ten miles. Morecambe And Wise also spoofed this ad: in their version the car was shown travelling some outlandish distance in the tens of thousands of miles on a single gallon. When it finally stopped, presenter Ernie waxed lyrical about it, ignoring driver Eric's complaints that the engine of his car was completely worn out.
- The Weird Al Show did this in just about every episode, with ads like "Sport Shoe - you don't deserve to wear them", "Silly Choice Dinners" that had rubber bands as a side item, and an ad for a pizza company that never puts their pizzas in a box to save time.
- Stan Freberg did both parody commercials and real ones.
- Bill Nye the Science Guy has one every now and then. Pass the plankton, please!
- The show that started Nye's TV career, Almost Live, also loved making fake commercials advertising "new shows on NBC," fictitous "community events," and fake fly by night trade schools. They were also fond of spoofing Kitschy Local Commercials awful enough to reach Memetic Mutation.
- Subverted in the early ads for Energizer batteries. It would start out looking like a normal commercial, until about halfway through when the absurdity got a bit too much (such as "Chateau Marmoset" wine, or the award-winning film "Dance With Your Feet") ... and then get interrupted by the Energizer bunny, pounding on his little drum, he keeps going and going and going and going and ...
- The sitcom Better Off Ted: Each episode included a fake commercial for the fictitious Veridian Dynamics company, the workplace setting for the show.
- The 30Rock episode "Gavin Volure" has one. Gavin Volure (Steven Martin) tries to justify creating a fake corporation by saying that the commercial never said what the company does. Indeed it's just a random assortment of footage and words.
Female narrator: Innovation. Tomorrow. America.
- iCarly: The Sack is a dead-on spoof on the many uses of the sleeved blanket Snuggies, but sans the sleeves. Hilarity Ensues.
- The Gruen Transfer's segment "The Pitch", in which two advertising agencies compete to "sell the unsellable", making commercials for things such as whale meat and holidays to Baghdad.
- Sometimes subverted, however, in that while most agencies approach The Pitch with a parody ad, not all do; some are actually pretty damn convincing. Twice now, a political party has approached the ABC to buy an ad originally aired on the pitch. (The Australian Democrats and The Greens.) Both times the ABC said no. In another example, an advert promoting mandatory euthanasia was so convincing that an actual Australian right-to-die organisation approached the agency to do a real ad on the issue; the next week, the panel discussed it and almost unanimously agreed that the 'parody' ad was more convincing than the real one.
- Funky Squad would have genuine ads from The Seventies mixed with the 'stars' promoting various fake products with a Values Dissonance twist, such as hair spray "with added hydro fluro carbons".
- The Amanda Show had at least one an episode.
- Done beautifully in the Trapped in TV Land episode from Supernatural. The typical cut to commercial occurs, and then opens up into a commercial for genital herpes. Starring Sam Winchester. The poor guy.
- One of the Chaser's favourites is the mock commercial. Often, they're shown next to each other, for a fake ad break. The network the show aired on doesn't have commercial breaks.
- House Hippo!!
- Newstopia always included a fake commercial in the middle of the real commercial break, as well as a fake preview of an upcoming show such as Inspektor Herring just before the second half.
- The Babylon 5 episode "And Now For a Word", done as a series of interviews and reports from a visiting journalist, features an ad from the Psi Corps, complete with Subliminal Seduction.
- The Colbert Report: Stephen made his own version of an anti gay marriage ad.
- That Mitchell and Webb Look, like many sketch shows, have done a couples of these. Notably cressps;
Webb: Once you cressp, you just can't splessp!
Mitchell: That doesn't make any sense!
- KYTV, being a spoof on commercial satellite TV, featured a handful of parody commercials in every episode, as did its predecessor, Radio Active.
- The Rick Mercer Report always has one or two an episode, often riffing on current political or business situations.
- The first episode of Six Feet Under included some parody adverts for mortuary products.
- Each episode of The Aquabats! Super Show! has one of these, usually advertising something silly from Gloopy (P).
- This idea was at the core of Sesame Street. Its creators realized TV commercials were more memorable for their target audience than either school or the children's programming of the day, and that there was a specific set of "useful things" that could be taught effectively in a mock commercial. Everything else the show has become known for evolved out of that.
- The Peter Serafinowicz Show was fond of these and would feature them at least Once an Episode.
- Probably the most well-known series are the ones starring Brian Butterfield. The first one is a direct parody of the PI Helpline adverts before spinning off into other subjects like dieting and karaoke.
- The Fast Show had some of these, mostly featuring Cheesy Peas.
- Portlandia takes these to a whole new level of Mind Screw in its third season by airing parody ads for the Portland Milk Advisory Board in between actual commercials.
- Making matters worse, Geico frequently runs an ad during the show that is disguised to look like a Portlandia sketch and even features the waitress character from the pilot episode.
- Father Ted had a spoof ad for a priests' chatline that was a dead-on parody of a real-life ad for a gay chatline.
- MAD frequently does the print version of this, satirizing magazine ads. Things got interesting in this respect once the magazine started carrying real ads...
- ... which is why longtime editor Bill Gaines wouldn't carry ads.
- GAMES magazine used to run a fake ad in every issue. It was listed in the table of contents with the tagline, "Which of the pitches is full of hitches?"
- Computer Games Magazine frequently runs ads for fictional game studio Schadenfreude Interactive. Because, honestly, who can resist Survival Horror karaoke, Mecha-assisted fishing, and racing against elder gods?
- The pornographic magazine Hustler would carry parody ads, usually to express Larry Flynt's opinions and beliefs.
- "Divers Ayres On Sundrie Notions" by P.D.Q. Bach, a series of 18th-century style singing commercials.
- The music video for Foo Fighters' song "Big Me" gives us "Footos: the Fresh Fighter" as a parody of Menthos ads.
- The Who Sell Out is a Fake Radio Show Album that includes fake commercials (for real products), most of them written by John Entwistle. (It also includes real jingles from Buccaneer Broadcaster Radio London.)
- A Prairie Home Companion does these regularly, for a range of products including Bee-Bop-A-Ree-Bop Rhubarb Pie and Powdermilk Biscuits. This is part of the Genre Throwback to the old radio variety shows that had prominent sponsorships. To wit: the show's house band is even named after a fictitious brand of shoe.
- Big Bill Hell's (warning, link contains swears), a parody car commercial made at a Baltimore TV station in 1990, circulated on VHS tapes for years until YouTube gave it a new lease on life.
- Bells Are Ringing opens with an ad for Susanswerphone, the answering service the heroine works for. This ends with a Description Cut to the Susanswerphone offices, which are considerably less glamorous than the ad.
- In the opera Paul Bunyan, the One Note Cooks' I Am Song leads to anachronistic sales pitches:
Sam: Do you feel a left-out at parties, when it comes to promotion are you passed over, and does your wife talk in your sleep? Then get our nearest agent to tell you about Soups for Success!
Ben: You owe it to yourself to learn about Beans, and how this delicious food is the sure way to the Body Beautiful. We will mail you a fascinating booklet, Beans for Beauty, by return of post if you send us your address.
- This is also a common device on the Homestar Runner toons.
- Senorial Day cuts between two different Parody Commercials, both focusing on the "holiday sales events" of car (?) dealerships.
- The Strong Bad Email candy product ends with a commercial for the candy bar SBlounchked!, sending up Mentos-style Bottled Cool pitches.
- The Blubb-O's commercial parodies many devices used in fast food commercials.
- A real commercial example: PayAttention.org puts out political ads with stereotypical images of waving flags, eagles, happy families, or whatever - only to reveal that the candidate being promoted is, say, a bag of leaves.
- In the Whateley Universe story "Tales of the MCO", the characters are sitting around watching said television show and MS Ting it. It has parody commercials for upcoming movies. The Ivory-Merchant production of "Hulk 1809" and the Oliver Stone-directed "Foucault's Pendulum". And fake cereal ads.
- Banana-nana-Ninja!'s Feast Master story arc has Sudoku giving an infomercial-style riff about the Omni-Functional Kitchen Gadget on a colosseum big-screen.
- Ursula Vernon got a section in her gallery for this stuff. Behold "Red Wombat Tea Co.".
- The Powerthirst series of commercials, now Defictionalized.
- The Lucky Candy commercial Easter Egg at the end of Bowser's Kingdom episode 5.
- Tobuscus does a lot of parodies of various commercial and commercial themes, from coffee ("Eight O'Clock Coffee") to clothing ("You're Not a Bottle, Boot") to pistachios ("Trapped in a Pistachio Ad") to Axe body spray ("How To Get Women"). Many of these are sponsored by the companies themselves.
- Frilly Shirt includes a number of parody vintage commercials, particularly for the author's own Patented Leopard Oil.
- Just before the midway point of Ponies The Anthology II, we get a series of clips putting various real commercials to the characters of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
- The Nostalgia Critic has begun doing this occasionally in his new set of reviews (post-review must go on).
- DK Vine has these all over the side of the main page, with parodies of things like Evony, male enhancement ads and travel ads with Donkey Kong Country, Banjo-Kazooie and Conker's Bad Fur Day characters and places standing in for the real world ones.