"First, there is the sequence where someone is shown trying to unsuccessfully impale the cap of a normal pen, which suggests not only a lack of familiarity with pens, but also the visual-spatial reasoning ability of a pot-smoking chimp."
There are people in this world who take incompetence to an art form. You know who we're talking about; people who cannot be trusted to use scissors, cut themselves to ribbons when they try to use a potato peeler, and cannot even use a blanket without help. How can such utterly incompetent people make a living in this world?
By appearing in commercials!
You see, for any task X (say, cutting paper), performed previously by using The Old Way (a paper-cutter, or for added angst, scissors), there is someone trying to sell you a new PaperSlicerMax3000 capable of doing the same thing. The new product has to be better than the Old Way if you want to convince an audience to throw out their old tools and buy new ones. All too often, the appearance of improvement is provided by showing the audience someone using the previous tool in a way so incompetent that it defies belief. What better way to advertise a new paper cutter than to show someone trying to use scissors and reducing their paper to modern art? Or, say, some idiot who cannot fold a map, to make GPS navigators look so much more efficient?
A popular format is to have the narrator say "stop wasting your time with conventional blankets", and showing a big red X or "no" slash over an invariably monochrome video of someone apparently having a lot of trouble with it, or someone tossing it down and shaking their heads melodramatically. Bonus points if these conventional products cost thousands less in the long run. Expect Bad Bad Acting to be used to demonstrate frustration. Often the same person becomes dramatically more competent when they switch to the product being advertised — the idea is presumably "even a moron could use our product", but often comes across as "only a moron would need our product".
Might be Truth in Television for some products and some users. In fact, many of these products were invented specifically for the elderly and disabled, people who legitimately could have problems with some of these tasks. The Snuggie, for instance, was originally meant for wheelchair users who often have problems regulating their body temperature - the design allows for the upper body and legs to both be fully covered without a corner getting caught in a wheel and without fabric bunching up in the back (which can cause bedsores). The "being too incompetent to use it" factor usually arises when the item is marketed to a general audience and it becomes necessary to convince them that they can't live without these products.
Gaze upon this video for a minute and a half of this sort of failure cut back-to-back. Sometimes goes hand-in-hand with The Power of Cheese, which is people acting incredibly stupid due to desire for the product being advertised instead of as a "demonstration" of a competitor. Related to Brand X, Cable/Satellite Mudslinging, and Side-by-Side Demonstration. May be used to cover up a Never Needs Sharpening flaw. Compare Deceptively Simple Demonstration, where the product is being used in a way that looks harder than it really is.
A Sub Trope of Strawman Product.
Compare Viewers Are Morons.
Examples In Fiction:
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The Trope Namer comes from the commercials advertising "Snuggie Wearable Blankets", which begin by showing a woman who simply could not make a standard blanket work. As said above, originally the blankets were created for wheelchair users who quite literally couldn't use a regular blanket, at least not safely. However, when able-bodied individuals find their blankets triumphing over them, it becomes logically painful. The best part of the commercial is that the "blanket" she's too incompetent to use is actually a decorative throw - in other words, it's about three feet long. No wonder she can't get warm! This was satirized in this Gag Dub video for the "WTF Blanket".
Apparently you can also buy them for your dog! The commercial even has a small dog in a snuggie wearing glasses and reading a newspaper. Based on what the ad shows, the company is trying really hard to tap into that incredibly small Mr. Peabody-niche of glasses-wearing anthropomorphic dogs. And that is parodied here.
And now there is the competing Phrobi, a blanket-robe that covers your back as well as front, for those who are too incompetent to operate a snuggie without showing everybody their naughty bits.
Cracked offers a few more examples in "As Seen on TV: The 10 Most Laughably Misleading Ads". Who'd have thought that capping a normal pen could be so hard? The commercial cheats by using a cap that is so chewed up that it's unusable. The commercial in question is for the MagneScribe pen. It shows a girl flailing around under a piece of furniture for her fallen pen, displaying both the poor vision and limited arm span of a T-Rex. Of course, the MagneScribe pen can't fall out of your hand; if you drop it the pen will come flying back through the air and re-attach itself to the magical pendant. Now it sells for $30, when you could easily buy three hundred regular pens with that.
This website, As Failed On TV, showcases several examples of this.
Practically every food processor TV spot begins by showing us someone who shouldn't be allowed near a knife trying to use one.
"Are you still cleaning the old-fashioned way?" cleaning product commercials like to show us the most haggard housewife in history struggling vainly and ineptly at a splotch on the wall.
There have been numerous ads for new ways to peel potatoes that begin by showing someone nearly slit their wrists while they hurl inch-thick slices of potato around the room.
These commercials, of course, were made by people who had clearly never heard of potato peelers.
The spaghetti strainer thing that makes pouring hot water out of a deep pot look like brain surgery. Most spaghetti-cooker ads do this. It's especially ridiculous when they are clearly and deliberately pouring outside the reach of the colander. The best example would be the Pasta Pro.
Here's the sad thing: the Pasta Pro actually seems like a clever idea (one less thing in the kitchen to clean), but the execution fails spectacularly (it fits gas AND electric stoves? Amazing!). Plus, according to customer reviews, there are numerous design flaws with it: The locking mechanism sometimes fails, steam can cause the lid to expand and become permanently stuck to the pot, and the red paint can flake off and contaminate the food.
The Ove-Glove ads begin with a woman who drops something supposedly because she's using one of those old-fashioned oven mitts, but anyone who's ever used an oven will recognize that she "dropped" the thing because she only used one hand. The commercial is trying to imply that she could have held the item securely with one hand if she'd only been wearing the Ove-Glove, but two normal mitts cost less than a single Ove-Glove. Meanwhile, the fakery extends in the other direction as a woman effortlessly moves hot cookies using her new Ove-Glove, and then one of her children picks up one of these supposedly hot cookies bare-handed and takes a bite (say goodbye to your taste buds, kid). The Ove-Glove is apparently so amazing it protects people that aren't even wearing it.
Another Ove-Glove ad has someone attempting to remove a bowl of very hot soup from a microwave while barehanded. And let me make one thing clear: when we say "remove", we mean, "Give the bowl three little tugs until it topples over the microwave's edge."
An ad for an egg-separator begins by showing the ridiculous difficulty of cracking open an egg without sending the contents everywhere, a skill most folks master by their second egg. The ad also has a woman biting down on a large piece of eggshell in her muffin, something easily picked out of any badly-cracked egg. A piece of eggshell too small to see during the mixing process will usually dissolve during baking, especially in acidic muffin batter.
The microwaveable egg container "Egg Wave" has a commercial that may have been the inspiration for the trope image. "Fried in all that grease? What a mess!" The incompetent egg cooker uses a pan filled with what must be a gallon of cooking oil, and upon flipping the eggs, creates a massive greasesplosion in the kitchen. Who cooks eggs in that much grease?! Apparently, a thin layer of butter in a non-stick pan is just too much work these days. Also, you can microwave eggs in just about any microwave-safe container, all of which would cost much less than an Egg Wave.
To add insult to injury, you can get similar devices for about half the price at many supermarkets, if you must have something like that.
Talking about eggs, the new Eggies egg boiling cups are designed to avoid the immense challenge presented by peeling hard-boiled eggs. Cut to a woman who's somehow removed half an inch of egg white from every egg she's peeled. The eggs look like Manuel Noriega's skin. The Kevin and Bean Show on KROQ spent several segments discussing the product and found that they were surprisingly difficult to assemble and use. And are you tired of peeling hard-boiled eggs all day? Get Eggies and you can be tired of cracking open your eggs and getting the fluid into the Eggies instead.
The really funny issue is that frankly the Eggies look harder to use than a typical egg. If you salt the water you boil the eggs in or immerse the cooked egg in cold water, the shell will usually come off in about three or four big pieces. Trying to pour liquid egg goop into the small opening looks like the more likely possibility to make a huge mess - which might explain why halfway through the ad, they start talking up the ability to add seasoning to your egg, and you start wondering why they can't lead off the commercial with the smart idea.
Touch & Brush, in which people point toothpaste tubes at toothbrushes, squash the tubes like they're trying to make pythons choke up the rabbits they ate last week (creating horrific pasty messes in the process), then use completely ineffective methods to get the remnants out of the tube. Who taught these children how toothpaste works?
Both Cable and Satellite TV sell their service by using utter incompetence to demonstrate the competitor's equipment. (Never mind that both satellite and cable have only one cable that runs to the back of the TV from the wall, digital cable often uses the same boxes as digital satellite, and that the remote controls are virtually identical. The complications arise in hooking up the rest of the peripherals, like DVD players, game consoles, the sound system...)
A commercial for a mosquito repellent candle shows a group of friends trying to use a single tiki-torch-style mosquito repellent, huddled around it desperate for protection! Naturally, they use dozens of the advertised brand to protect their party.
The person in the Big City Slider commercial trying to make normal burgers simply should not be allowed near a stove. Note how he goes on and on about how you can actually put stuff on your slider after cooking them with the BCS Machine. Y'know, as if you couldn't already do that with a slider cooked the traditional way. For extra fun, when he says "Clean-up's a breeze!" the magic hands use a paper towel to dab delicately at a BCS Machine that has clearly never been used, ever.
Fun fact: that's Billy Mays with his sleeves rolled down. His superhuman abilities were apparently dependent on whether his sleeves were rolled up or not.
An ad for a device to unclog plumbing first shows a person trying to use a plumber's snake by repeatedly ramming it into the sink as though trying to stab the sink to death with it.
The commercial for a cordless soldering iron, which shows a man struggling to reach his project with a corded soldering iron, tugging futilely on the cord. He seems oblivious to the five feet of empty, perfectly-usable workbench space between the outlet the tool is plugged into, and the project he's attempting to work on. Or he's never heard of an extension cord.
An ad in which a woman, in an attempt to open plastic packaging, employs a chainsaw. The product in question was a clamshell package opener, which came in a clamshell package. Oh, the irony....
The ads for those little rubber caulk spreader thingies usually show someone who doesn't have their product using their finger to spread caulk, because they apparently have no cardboard or tools of any kind. Additionally, the caulk already looks like it was applied by a pack of kindergartners offered a $500 prize to the one who could apply the most caulk to the bathroom tiles. Most caulk is in fact supposed to be smoothed out by finger. Even if you don't want to get your hands dirty, you can always use a latex glove.
The "Total Transformation Program", a "child behavior modification program" advertised on this very Wiki, seems to be aimed at parents who aren't dealing very well with what sound like perfectly normal kids. "Have you tried screaming, punishing, pleading, and negotiating and your child still walks all over you?" Modern science has answers.
The program really is meant for parents who are just that bad at working with normal teenagers... Since the "Trick" of the product is that the "Total transformation" is of the parent, not of the kid.
The "Perfect Brownie pan" commercial opens with a woman who can't seem to use a spatula when trying to remove what one can only imagine must be cement brownies from a pan. She has apparently never heard of "greasing the pan" or lining brownie pans and cake tins with greaseproof paper, both of which are significantly easier and cheaper.
The containers that store inside each other. The commercial shows a woman trying to get a container out of a cabinet and ends up pulling them all down... well, she pulls two down and ends up violently pulling the rest down. She doesn't need new containers, she needs help.
The Covermate commercial shows a woman in an epic struggle with a roll of cling wrap. It then shows her pawing through a box full of lids for the "right" one - but watch carefully: the lid she eventually angrily rejects actually fits the container she's trying to cover.
On the other hand, plastic containers and their lids can warp after time. Doesn't make the commercial any less silly, but there's a grain of truth there.
The Shoe-dini commercials take this trope possibly as far as it can go; the ad shows people trying and failing spectacularly to put on slip-on shoes; in other words, they're unsuccessfully trying to put on shoes that require absolutely no physical effort to put on, besides moving your feet. They seem to be trying to force the shoes onto their feet without stretching the hole whatsoever; sure enough, the Shoe-dini is designed to stretch the shoe's hole, and said people have absolutely no problem using it. While the Shoe-dini clearly has a specific target audience in mind, mainly elderly people who have limited mobility issues due to chronic back and arthritis pain, the commercial just comes off as insulting.
Up until April 2010-ish the slogan for Shoe-dini was "It's not just a shoe horn, it's a shoe horn on a stick!" Apparently they only in hindsight realized just how clearly this shed light on their shoe-based incompetency presented in the ad (a great deal of shoe horns are on sticks already...). It has since been changed to "It's not just a shoe horn, it's Shoe-dini!"
Several ads, not all of them for coffee, take place in a Starbucks-alike where the customers are too stupid to read the menu and the baristas either too slow to comprehend orders in normal English or too rude and hostile to fill them.
And even a Denny's ad saying "Mr. Chino, I don't like your coffee, but I sure do love your pants!"
On the other hand, the Dunkin Donuts ad was for its coffee, and thus one of the many "No habla Starbucks" parodies that competing coffee chains use. Heck, "No habla Starbucks" was an early catch-phrase of Coffeeof Doom.
The best of them in recent memory, though, has to be one for a coffee maker (afraid I can't remember which). But the potential buyers for this product will apparently want it not because of saved costs, or making their coffee exactly how they want it, or even just to save themselves a trip to the pretentious cafe. Oh no, it's because when you go to a coffee shop, you could run into those sliding electric doors. Yes, that is the pitch they start and end the commercial with: a bunch of poor schlubs who walk straight into the glass doors at the coffee shop; one lady even falls over backwards, spilling her coffee and smacking her head on the floor! If only they had stayed at home and made their own coffee! Yeah, no. If just walking into and out of the store sounds too dangerous for you, you are not allowed in the kitchen. You shouldn't even be allowed to hold a cup of hot coffee.
AT&T's two phones ad. Using two Verizon phones to surf the web and talk on the phone simultaneously might not be a common task, but you'd think this guy was trying to juggle them, he drops them so often.
And the solution to his problem, as shown in the commercial? Is it a new device, or a service? No, it's the smug guy holding the phone for him. Apparently, the 3G deal is that AT&T provides you with a manservant who holds things for you, which Verizon doesn't.
Some older ads for Apple computers feature testimonials from supposed former Windows users who lack the most basic skills with electronics in general. One woman complained that she couldn't figure out how to turn on her Windows PC.
The funny thing about this: it was actually harder to turn on early Macs - the power switch was hidden at the back of the system, and somewhat difficult to locate and flip. This was later remedied by moving the power button to the keyboard.
Commercials for both Bing and text-message-based info service KGB show people who can't figure out Google. "There's sooo many links!"
The Bing example is especially silly, since Bing generally has as many links as Google. It even shows a picture of a Bing search with links at the end.
The Bing people also don't seem to realize that the point of a search engine is to find information, and not having as many links isn't exactly a selling point.
Also note that if you put in the exact name of what you're looking up, what you're looking for will almost always be the first link that comes up, probably over 99% of the time. If it isn't, it'll either be on the first page somewhere (usually toward the top, like the second to fourth) or what you're looking for doesn't exist.
There exists a certain exercise device. It's a jump rope...but without the rope. According to the commercial, more people don't jump rope because it's too hard. It acts as if jumping rope takes a lot of skill and coordination. Apparently these people were so sheltered as children that they did not jump rope on the playground at recess. Later in the ad it claims that you only need to bend your knees. Let me recap: This is a jump rope, with no rope, and you don't need to jump. This abomination simply should not exist, period. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you...The Jump Snap.
This product might be hilarious, but the way it's being marketed on the Jump Snap website borders on the cruel. They're actually suggesting that people buy Jump Snaps in bulk and set up "fitness centers" where they can lead others in using the Jump Snap. Yes, in a recession, when millions are out of work and millions more are living on the brink of poverty, they're suggesting that spending over $1,000 for what is basically a bunch of bicycle handles with Nerf balls attached is a good business plan.
You can, but you wouldn't get the jump counter or calorie tracker or personal trainer or the adjustable weight.
Isn't jumping up and down while moving your arms already an exercise called jumping jacks?
And if jumping jacks are too complex for you, you can remove the jump part and just bend your knees up and down in a squatting fashion. This revolutionary technique is known by fitness experts as "squats".
The ad even tells you at one point that jumping burns calories and it tells you different ways to jump. Why not just do that without the rope?
A minor example: An ad for Swiffer dusters shows a person using an ordinary feather duster... by pounding it up and down on various surfaces, kicking up an unbelievable cloud of dust. Has any one in history used a feather duster in this fashion? I don't think Mr. Monk would be pleased.
The Brazilian Polishop is infamous when it comes to this trope. We got people who can't use a toothbrush, to people who can't peel a fruit without somehow throwing the fruit through the nearest window, to people who can't put a dish over a common table.
There's a pic that made the rounds on gaming forums a while back: It was from a Best Buy, where the employees had affixed stickers to all the copies of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare for Xbox 360 that cheerfully offered to "Let us install it for you!"
Presumably they mean the Xbox 360 itself. A process which involves color matching a trio of cables to your television along with a power cord and Ethernet cable and should take about three minutes, tops. Or if you have an HDMI cable, takes less than thirty seconds, ten of which are spent making sure the cable's the right way.
Here's how these things happen according to my retail experience (I never worked for Best Buy though): Someone in marketing/sales came up with the "Let us install it for you!" thing for software to improve sales among the computer-illiterate as well as spread the Geeksquad name around the store, and the bosses thought it was a solid idea. Merchandising printed out a billion of those stickers and the bosses (themselves mostly computer-illiterate) said "Stick these on all your best-selling software." The store managers (generally computer illiterate) pass the order down. The younger kids and gamers who work at Best Buy (the real computer literate ones) would mention how it's a stupid idea to put them on console games, but the manager would reply "Whatever, someone from upper management is coming next week and they want to see stickers."
It won't stop. Now they're charging $30 for PS3 firmware updates. For readers who don't own a PS3, the update process is as follows: push left on the controller a few times until you get to the options menu. Select firmware update. Agree to terms and conditions. Wait a few minutes as PS3 automatically updates itself. Apparently this is esoteric enough to be worth $30 if you can do it.
It isn't even that complicated. Usually when there is a new update available, the PS3 will ask you to install it as soon as the system turns on, and all you need to do is agree to the terms and conditions. And even if you can't update that way, most new prestige titles for the system come with the newest system firmware on the disc and will install upon first disc insertion.
This is actually stupid in a different way. Around the time that Modern Warfare was released they added in the ability to install games onto the system which was extremely easy.
There are, however, some customers who do use the service, as demonstrated by it actually continuing to be offered, although the odds are low that it's due to the incompetence featured by this trope.
From a Geek Squad 'Sleeper Agent' (code name for former employees) who very much liked his job and still shops at Best Buy (college job), here's the scoop - Playstation firmware upgrades: Some people, remarkably, don't have broadband, or any, internet access, and such people will gladly pay $30 for such a service (some people even live in areas where only dial-up is available). As for the installations, it's quite simple: Some people actually ARE Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket, believe it or not.
Similarly, Best Buy's Geek Squad, or any electronic store that has a computer & electronic department, offers customers to do the most basic things like installing software, running virus checks, or just moving files from the hard drive to a flash drive for a pretty penny. Granted, there are people out there who really have no idea how computers work except the basics (generally the older population that didn't grow up with them), but even then...
From another sleeper comes personal experience that yes there are people playing this trope entirely straight, among them a person who came into the store complaining his PC wouldn't start. The problem: the power switch on the backside was flipped to "off". That's it.
There's a commercial for a set of kitchen containers in which you can use each container as a lid to hold more food. Of course, you have to show that you just don't have enough room in a regular flat-lid container. So they show a woman trying to put spaghetti into a normal container. She has, in complete knowledge that there is not enough room in the container, piled on about a quarter of the container's volume of spaghetti ON TOP of the completely full container, and then acts surprised when it goes everywhere when she puts the flat lid on.
One of the lead up ads to the release of D&D 4th edition was to show gamers flummoxed by the current edition's complicated rules... bearing in mind this was an ad targeting current users of a product made by the same people as the new product.
And it was Wizard's pretty much poking fun at themselves about each edition had a rather obvious flaw in it.
Although the infomercial for the Ronco Miracle Blade III set features shots of actors doing exactly what you'd expect knives to do, like cutting a turkey, the first shot shows an actress stabbing a tomato with an inappropriate knife and apparently hitting the artery.
Ronco generally made adverts like they were being paid to represent this trope. Each one featured a busy housewife with a look of long-suffering frustration as she failed to perform some task that we've done for decades - cut paper, peel vegetables, sharpen a pencil etc. Then she is given the Ronco plastic-tat-o-matic and seen smilingly performing the formerly impossible tasks. Don't forget the Ronco plastic-tat-o-matic is Not Available In Stores.
The My Li'l Reminder features an establishing clip of someone's senile grandma lost in a parking lot, trying to find her car. Not only does she seem to lack the memory, but also basic problem-solving skills to figure out where her car might be. But have no fear, thanks to this wonder-product, this little old lady too senile to have the faintest idea where she is or what she's doing is now free to drive a... Oh Crap.
That is, of course, if the product even works. Several consumer comments have complained that the play-back is so garbled and faint that they nearly have to shove it in their ear to be able to hear anything.
One Powerjet commercial features a man who flies into a psychotic rage (stalking around like a cornered animal, clawing at his pockets for quarters, and lashing out at nearby equipment) at the fact that his self-serve car wash was cut short by the timer, rather than just putting in more quarters.
Sure, he could be out of quarters, but since most self-service car washes have change machines for this exact purpose, it makes it appear that the guy shouldn't be driving.
The novelty of the Powerjet is supposed to be the little compartment for adding soap. Soap wasn't car wash guy's problem. In fact, based on what we know about him so far, giving him more soap would risk driving him to psychosis and murder.
Many commercials for fitness equipment show people who can't seem to grasp the concept of even basic moves like push ups and crunches, often with looks on their faces like someone has been torturing them.
Obviously those people can't even handle the basic concept of sitting up, considering they're doing it so wrong that it's causing them physical pain. These are people who shouldn't be allowed to handle their own finances, much less be allowed to watch TV unsupervised.
As Cracked mentioned in the article toward the top of the examples, the people shown in these commercials are generally the portrayal of how lazy people think they'll look while exercising than how they actually would.
An ad for the Wonder File insists that it's impossible to organize your papers, demonstrated by a woman randomly shifting papers about on a desk.
Dyson vacuum cleaner commercials actually avert this. When demonstrating the vacuuming pattern with a regular upright, then with the Dyson Ball (the one with the huge yellow ball wheel that rounds corners easier), the user of the regular vacuum actually does a good job of using the regular upright. Which actually makes the visual improvement more believable. What it fails to show you is that the Dyson vacuum doesn't work very well in a straight line, hence all the turning in the ad.
Pillsbury Toaster Strudel Bagel version had a voice over showing how unbelievably hard it was to prepare a real bagel... by showing a woman trying to cram one into a single slot of an upright toaster. The narrator then tells us how adding cream cheese and strawberry jam made things even worse, especially if you put it on the bagel beforehand and again try to put it in one slot.
There's now a new product called "Easy Feet." Apparently, now bending over to wash your feet is a horrifying task even for those lacking a physical problem to impair movement.
The problem with the ad is that it is really uneven. Half of the testimonials are marketing it as a spa product (it massages as it cleans and pumices calluses away), and the others market it as a convenience product (for those who have trouble bending over, like the handicapped or overweight). The testimonials kind of blend and it just makes it sound like everybody is too damn lazy to lean over!
Oh, and they misspelled "heels."
And speaking of "Too Incompetent to Operate Soap," behold: Soap Magic!
Today, these automatic soap pumps are sold with commercials that claim that people don't want to touch a germy pump. Ya know, the same pump that is filling your other hand with anti-bacterial soap - these people, if they exist, seem to forget that touching said pump isn't the last part of the hand-washing process.
Ever see a commercial for the automatic can openers? They do bring up the rather appropriate and apt example of an elderly woman with arthritis who'd have difficulty with a manual can opener, but then goes to show a woman in her late twenties, with no indication whatsoever of any joint problems gasping in absolute agony while using a manual. While there are a lot of reasons you might want to have a motorized can opener with a magnetic lid catcher, at times it gets ridiculous.
It's not just the can openers. Many products clearly developed for the disabled or elderly (stair-lifts, tilting chairs, incontinence pads) are advertised using a young (or certainly not elderly) and clearly perfectly agile actress. An article in 'Ouch!', the BBC's magazine site for people with varied disabilities, features an eloquent and furious article by paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson on seeing aids for wheelchair users advertised using models who are clearly able to walk. (Apparently, when you know these things—as the target market do—it's obvious from their posture and muscle development of their legs.)
Ads for the Windows smartphone boast how quickly and easily you can access their features. They compare this by showing us some blundering fools messing around with their phones at the worst possible moments, like while coaching a kids' baseball game or dancing with a woman at a club. If you're this kind of person, I think you'd be having more problems besides what phone you're using.
The ads for the "slob stopper." It's apparently a bib for adults. The commercial opens with a smiling man in a parked car pouring coffee all over himself, while the voiceover says, "Has this ever happened to you?" The ad goes on the show him wearing the product, then doing it again, sitting in the same parked car, apparently ogling a passing runner. And he never stops smiling. Okay, if you have enough of a problem with drinking in a stopped car, you probably need more than a bib.
If you're an adult and a cup is too complicated for you to use without a bib, then you shouldn't be allowed to go off unsupervised, much less drive a car.
Also note how in the before he pours the entire contents of the cup on himself but in the after, due to the magic of the slob stopper no doubt, he only spills a tiny amount on himself.
The Smoking Gun Presents Worlds Dumbest showcases another driving bib called the Drib, in which the guy is simply too incompetent to eat, period: first, without the Drib, he tries to jam the hot dog into his mouth and fails, pretty much looking like an idiot. With the Drib, he's even worse, flipping it vertical and hitting his Drib-covered chest with the hotdog. Being Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket is one thing; lacking the basic hand-eye coordination of a newborn child is another.
The Billy Mays ad for the Jupiter Jack shows a lady struggling to talk on the phone while driving. She struggles to hold it up to her ear with the shoulder, and drops it so hard that slides all the way across the car.
Yet another example of someone who shouldn't be allowed to drive, period.
As mentioned in the Cracked article, one of the worst offenders is the Tiddy Bear, a little bear-shaped piece of fabric you wrap around a seat belt to prevent chafing. While the product itself might have merit, one woman in the commercial says her seat belt makes it difficult to breathe. This girl doesn't need a Tiddy Bear, she needs a ribcage. Or to stop driving around in a red 1958 Plymouth Fury.
This trope is parodied by Big Spot.com, which invokes this for such silly products as a self-bouncing yo-yo and a neck shelf. Then the ad freezes to point out how absolutely terrible these fake ads look, before pitching the Big Spot.com service, where people can get paid to test products.
An advertisement for the Pocket Chair includes a woman becoming frustrated with the "complicated devices" of a standard folding chair and throwing it to the ground in anger. This can be Truth in Television with worn-out or rusted chairs (or ladders or pretty much anything that folds in such a manner), but it's still over the top.
An advertisement exists for a brownie sorter or a giant cupcake-cake maker that is treated by the family as something as revolutionary as a cure for cancer, with the old baking trinkets so monotonous and boring they put the entire family to sleep.
Note: said cupcake commercial also showed a group of kids trying to share one cupcake. Somehow, they failed logistics class.
One commercial for Bounty paper towels shows a father and daughter drinking a milkshake and spilling it out of the cup and a woman putting spaghetti on a plate...by tipping the pot over onto the plate.
That's probably an intentional joke, since the ad is supposed to be about the cleaning product, not the cup or pot.
A commercial featured a man sitting in a pile of twist ties. Only his head and hands were visible, he actually proclaimed "I'm *drowning* in twist ties!". He needs to remember to stand up.
Furniture Fix. The guy couldn't even get off the couch without the product.
There's this commercial for a computer-fixing company that shows this guy clicking his mouse hard for a few seconds before screaming "SON OF A-" and smashing his laptop to bits. Apparently, people are so dumb that they'll give up after clicking for a few seconds.
Admittedly this may be what we would LIKE to do regarding a slow computer, but still...
In the MonkTie-In NovelMr. Monk Goes to Germany, Natalie Teeger's monologue narration describes something along the lines of the example above:
"I read a story once about a man who couldn't get his desktop computer to work properly. After spending three fruitless hours on the phone with customer support, he threw his computer out the window of his tenth-floor apartment. Unfortunately, the computer, the monitor, and the keyboard all landed on the roof of a police car. When the police officers asked him why he did it, he shrugged and said, "I just snapped." He threw away thousands of dollars. He could have killed someone on the street. Didn't he consider for one second what he was about to do?"
This advert for a cycle computer shows a rival being utterly flumoxed by a Brand X computer, which doesn't have a touchscreen involved. Bear in mind, most of these computers are operated by ONE button (with two or three more for configuration, which you can forget about after installing it).
A commercial for "Slushie Magic" (a product that makes "instant" slushies by shaking a cup filled with juice and a frozen plastic cube) shows the typical shot of someone turning on a blender before the lid is put on. Ya know, something people learn not to do very quickly.
Its gets funnier shortly afterwards. After turning on the blender and the liquid starts going everywhere, the blender's operator THEN decides to try to put the lid on. This person clearly shouldn't be left alone.
Used in the 'no to AV' UK campaign of 2011, showing students being confused by the concept (2:00 onwards), despite it being only marginally more complicated than the current system. Particularly apt that it's being taught to under-18s, who are deemed insufficiently mature to vote - many of the arguments put forward in that segment could be made against any voting system, mixing this in with shades of Hobbes Was Right as well.
Commercials for Glade Plug-Ins seem to think that women are too stupid to unplug an air freshener or some other device in order to plug in the device they want to use. Instead, the women wave the cord around with a confused look on their faces. The second situation is even more moronic, as the woman is doing this with a room full of kids who want milkshakes and she can't figure out how to unplug the air freshener or the toaster so she can plug in the blender.
This Australian commercial for a microwave cookbook shows a woman pounding at a digital microwave display in frustration.
Commercials for Bake Pops showcases people that can't operate cake but somehow can put cake on a stick with no problem.
There's a product out there called the Broccoli Wad. Despite its name, it's really a band that you put on your dollars. Why someone would want to use it instead of a wallet or a purse is never quite explained - the only reason given is that it's "easier than a wallet" and that "wise guys don't carry their money in a wallet". Nevermind that you can't carry most stuff with it and that when you wear it, you are just ASKING to get mugged.
A commercial for AFN.net showed how convenient it is to use compared to the general internet, since it features conveniently organized information, while the man trying to use the internet in general was distracted and ended up looking at LOL cats. Of course, the man using the general internet might have been more successful had he not been banging his fists randomly on the keyboard...
GEICO features a set of commercials where people "save" money by doing the most ineffective, asinine things possible, all Played for Laughs, as satires of others' commercials: buying a "rescue panther" instead of a security system, creating a homemade amusement park instead of going to one, having a Girl Posse follow you around instead of a diet plan, hosting paintball inside their house instead of paying to have it repainted, and getting your children a wild possum instead of a real pet. This is supposed to show how switching to GEICO will be a "smart" way to save. In addition to being VERY impractical, most of those proposed ways to save are just as expensive as the "expensive" way to do them, not to mention often dangerous.
Reddit has an entire Sub-reddit solely on gifs and videos that highlight this trope in ads.
More like indecisiveness rather than incompetence, but one Verizon HTC 8X phone involves showing off how simple the menu is and how easy it is to do things quickly on the phone. It precedes this by showing a man struggling to operate a microwave oven and taking so long to punch in his house alarm code that it starts going off. If you can't work a microwave, you don't need a cellphone.
A commercial advertising Waxvac, a device used to clean a person's ears, shows how difficult and painful any other method can supposedly be. The commercial is complete with people stabbing themselves in the ears with small objects and other painful methods that make the viewer cringe. Even better, the guy who hurts himself looks at the cotton swab as though injuring himself was the swab's fault. If you are going to use a cotton swab to clean your ear, you gently swab the outside and don't stick it in the ear canal. The guy reacts as though he stabbed his eardrum with a pair of scissors.
Mocked by Game Trailer's ads for their Xbox app, which show flailing individuals too inept to move their fingers out of the way to watch a video on their phone. Cut to the video watchers celebrating their new power to watch the videos on their TV, one of them wearing a Snuggie.
This commercial for the "GoGo Pillow," which is a pillow designed to hold digital tablets and smartphones. One of the main selling points of the commercial is that doing things such as e-mailing, watching a movie, traveling, and following a recipe are "real hassles" when done on a smartphone. They depict a woman trying to type out an e-mail on an iPad with two hands while resting it haphazardly on her knees. It falls, not because she wasn't holding it right (or at all), but because she didn't have a GoGo Pillow. They depict a woman laying in bed trying to watch a movie on her smartphone with a frustrated look on her face. However, the reason she's having difficulty watching her movie seems to have more to do with the fact that she isn't holding the smartphone still than her lack of a GoGo Pillow.
Perfect Pancake. The TV ad (shown on the embedded player on that webpage) begins with a black-and-white film of somebody trying and failing to flip a pancake, an aim that is so atrocious that you wonder if they also miss the bowl while pouring themselves some cereal.
From the Cracked.com page, the companion to the L'il Reminder is the Listen Up, "a hearing aid for people who can't admit they need a hearing aid, that has the added bonus of endowing users with super-hearing so that they can eavesdrop and generally hear things they aren't supposed to."
It starts with the old guy listening to his TV and then the radio with both cranked up full blast, then himself getting totally owned by his harpy of a wife. He takes it surprisingly well (with a maniacal grin), perhaps because he couldn't hear what she was saying! Then the whole thing strays into the reprehensible subject, when it boasts that you can eavesdrop on people's private conversations from "up to 100 feet away," followed by a shot of it being used by an elderly couple in church.
There's also a shot of a guy in a football stadium, who is apparently able to hear the quarterback call plays in the huddle from the stands. This would be realistic if the device was possible to program to isolate specific sounds, but since it doesn't, he should be bleeding out the ears from crowd noise.
Also a Cracked example, the Easy Toothbrush, "an ordinary toothbrush with bristles organized so as to form a rounded surface, making it similar to several dozen toothbrushes you can buy at the grocery store." It shows a blonde woman with advanced gum disease who clearly does not look like she has ever used a toothbrush. Incidental bristle contact causes her to recoil in pain as if she had been brushing with a steak knife.
The acting career of the main character in Hamlet 2 is mostly limited to performing these roles in commercials.
Friends played with this. Character Joey Tribbiani is a struggling actor, and once accepts a role in an infomercial in which he portrays "Kevin", a guy who has trouble with milk cartons that are "flingin'-flangin' hard to open" (he rips one open while trying, spraying milk all over the place). But with the Milk Master 2000, he has no trouble. "Now I can have milk every day!" Later, Joey laments that his fellow cast members in a play tease him about the infomercial by asking him to open milk cartons ... and making fun of him when he really can't do it.
Admittedly the Milk Master is in some ways a pretty good idea - because if you're not allowed to use scissors to open a milk carton, you probably would need it.
30 Rock when Tracy advertises his Meat Machine in order to show bread is bad: a woman picks up a slice of bread and reacts as if it burnt her fingers.
"Are you tired of your bread making you angry?"
The Snuggie, as well as its commercials, were parodied in iCarly with "The Sack".
The funny part of iCarly making fun of Snuggies is that Nickelodeon advertised the Snuggie.
Even funnier, there's something like "The Sack" that actually exists, albeit with a different purpose. There's something similar that's marketed for people who travel frequently and would prefer a protective barrier between them and filthy hotel sheets.
Parodied and subverted in one episode of The Honeymooners: Ralph and Ed are trying to sell a multi-function kitchen utensil on an infomercial. They only have two apples, so they don't practice coring them. When they're doing the actual commercial, Ed, in full Cloud Cuckoo Lander mode, doesn't bother faking having trouble with the normal corer, and finishes in less than five seconds. Meanwhile, Ralph spends several minutes trying to get the product to work, growing increasingly frazzled.
One episode featured a series of ads for products combining mayo and mustard in a single jar, like Hellman's Dijonnaise. In the end, a guy is shown missing out on the important moments in his life because the process of spreading mustard then mayonnaise was simply too time consuming.
An episode features Janeane Garofalo as a woman who simply can't organize the bags in her kitchen, shouting, "Help me!" at the camera. The solution is "bag hutch," a box to put bags in. The writers had to change the name of the product because "bag box" was already the name of a product that did the exact same thing.
Picnicface featured a segment called "Infomercial Plus" - an infomercial actor agency that offers people Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket in real life to make your infomercial even better! Highlights included a literal blanket-operating failure, a man unable to comprehend fruit and another utterly incapable of cracking eggs.
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Bulk once tried to star an ad for a karate dojo and ended up serving as an example of what happens when one tries to learn karate without proper training.
Parodied in a Russell Howard's Good News sketch. A faux-ad for Bic's new "Lady Pen" depicts a woman being completely incapable of using a "manly" pen.
Infamously - nay, Legendarily - Inverted in the second episode of The IT Crowd, wherein an advert ("Has This Ever Happened To You") depicts an elderly woman falling down some stairs, getting right back up with no problems, and then falling down some more. But before she can dial up Emergency Services, the ad cuts in with how, as part of a general improvement, they've changed the number - it's no longer 999*
The show takes place and is shown in the UK, but perhaps mindful of US viewers Roy later mentions '911', which Moss corrects
, but (*jingle*) 0118 999 881 999 119 725...
...3. ("Hello, I've had a bit of a tumble.")
Parodied by You Don't Know Jack in one of its faux advertisements, which began with "Playing Solitaire on the computer is fun, right? But it's hard to remember all those rules!" The "ad" proceeded to hawk a fictional computer game titled "52-Card Pickup 2000".
In Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars, the molotov cocktail preparation minigame at gas stations suggests that Huang Lee would be a great candidate if there was ever an infomercial for people who can't efficiently pour gasoline into their gas tank.
First, he bumps into tables, managing to pull the tablecloth off.
He fails to open the door because he can't use the knob right.
He is unable to start his car because the battery has died. When a little girl comes up to him, he rolls down both windows on the driver's side of the car. She asks him, "How many times has this happened to you?" He says "Happens to me every fucking day. Every day."
At home, when moving a boiling pot of pasta to the strainer in the sink, he drops it because he isn't using potholders.
He keeps all his plastic cups in the same top cupboard, causing them all to fall out when he opens it.
He cuts his finger while slicing a carrot.
He gets tangled up in his phone cord as he tries to call 912.
Depressed, he sits down on his bed and puts a gun to his head to kill himself, but when he pulls the trigger, it clicks empty, informercial music starts playing, an X is emblazoned on the screen, and an announcer shouts, "ARE YOU TIRED OF UNRELIABLE GUNS?!"
After Hours discusses this trope at length in one episode - the one where they debate which commercial universe is the coolest. Dan O'Brien initially pitches infomercials as the coolest - after all, being able to perform basic tasks in those universes would mark you a deity - but it's quickly pointed out that he'd have to rely on idiots to do everything else.
Parodied by Smosh in the informercial for the Easy Step. The opening shows Anthony struggling to climb steps.
In one After Hours video, it is discussed that you would be God if you lived in the world of house product infomercials.
Parodied in one of the Troy McClure/Dr. Nick infomercials from the earlier seasons of The Simpsons, which opens with Troy demonstrating a juicer by first awkwardly squeezing an orange against his forehead for a few seconds before telling his audience that "Until now, this was the only way to get juice from an orange." Immediate cut to Homer who is, of course, in the middle of actually making juice this way.
Homer: "You mean there's a better way?!"
Then he demonstrates said juicer, which Dr. Nick shouts is "WHISPER QUIET" and acts incredulous at the fact that only one drop comes out of the machine. "You got all that from one bag of oranges?"
An early episode of Squidbillies features a fake commercial for a fictional baby crib. It starts off with a woman apparently unable to cope with her ventriloquist infant screaming with his mouth closed, insisting with a lip-synch that wouldn't be out of place in a Godzilla movie, "There's got to be a better way!"
Another fake advertisement in the same episode starts the same way. This ad is for the Baby Death Trap, which apparently exists solely so the manufacturer can sue people who call the earlier product a "death trap" not for libel but for trademark infringement.
Clone High, where Gandhi and Abe advertise their knork by having Abe dress up as an old lady who complained that she could barely walk because of the difficulty of using two utensils at the same time.
Hoodwinked, the 2006 adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood, has one case of this: Kirk Kirkkendall is an actor trying out for a Paul's Bunion Foot Cream commercial. He appears turned down on his try, and to make things worse, his truck is robbed later that day. While Kirk is talking with Boingo after discovering this, he gets a call on his car phone from the commercial director saying that he's received the part. The director instructs Kirk to go out to the wood, and cut down a tree, reminding him, "Don't act like a woodsman, be a woodsman." Kirk goes off with an axe and starts trying out, but we clearly can see that he's Too Incompetent To Operate An Axe: First, he tries holding the axe by the axe blade itself, hitting the handle against the side of the tree and pretty much looking like an idiot. Then he tries ramming the blade into the tree like he's trying to split the tree down the middle. Lastly, he tries pulling the tree out of the ground, using the axe and one of his feet as leverage. He only becomes competent once he reads Chopping ForActors.
Something also says that he didn't have any permit to do tree clearing.