Advertising trope where a company admits they've had trouble in the past, but if you buy their products now
you won't be disappointed. Basically, they are saying they have what it takes to Win Back The Crowd
from whatever caused them to leave in the first place, but rather than silently do it and let word of mouth take over
, they've decided on a less subtle approach. If not done with the correct level of self-deprecating humor, it tends to fall flat. There can be a backlash if most people didn't see anything wrong with the product in the first place, but the company is pretending they sucked before to justify changes.
Compare New and Improved
, which tries to imply that the product is better that it was without going into any detail about what was wrong before, or what they changed. See also Lampshade Hanging
, The Man Is Sticking It To The Man
and Public Relations Ad
. If a company pretends to be someone else with a tone of "they
don't suck anymore", it's also Astro Turf
Known uses of this trope:
- Toyota since February 2010, at least in America, with the, "We fixed the engine screw-up that was killing people," message.
- Domino's Pizza, formerly known as the cheap but cardboardy brand, completely overhauled their advertising in 2010, stressing that, basically, "yeah, our pizza sucked, but we're gonna do better from now on." One of its commercials includes a dramatic reading of complaints about the quality of its pizza, followed by claims that they're changing how they make the stuff. Surprisingly, this has proven rather successful; the new pizza is definitely seen as better than the bulk of the competition. They're doing the same with their cheesy bread. Stephen Colbert named Domino's Alpha Dog of the Week for boldly telling their customers how utterly awful their own product was, particularly since they had been extolling the same product's virtues in their previous marketing campaign.
- Honda took a page from Domino's regarding their bread-and-butter Civic compact. The current design, introduced in 2011, was panned critically and commercially, with even Consumer Reports taking the Civic off of the recommended list, where it was for ages. Honda admitted that the recession spooked them into thinking that cheap = good, in an era when the competition was stepping up their game. Honda's response was to initiate a emergency refresh for the 2013 model year to redesign the interior (the main source of the criticism), and to produce a TV ad called "Things Can Always Be Better" to admit that they whiffed.
- "Under New Management" signs.
- The Coca-Cola/New Coke/Coke Classic saga.
- "Have you driven a Ford, lately?"
- British Leyland tried this once when they had a reputation for making lousy vehicles. It didn't work and they went bust.
- General Motors tried this in The Eighties with their "This Is Not Your Father's Oldsmobile" campaign. The goal was to change the old and stuffy image of the brand. The problem was that Oldsmobile already had a good reputation among the children of Oldsmobile owners before the campaign. Prospective buyers thought that they'd changed for the worse.
- The Toyota Corolla.
- Bailey's are trying to rebrand, to lose their fusty, old-fashioned image. As they were trying so hard to prove that they Don't Suck Any More, they were hesitant to accept a request from The Mighty Boosh for a character called Old Gregg to be portrayed drinking Bailey's, since they imagined he would probably be an aging man. They eventually allowed the usage when they were informed that Old Gregg was, in fact, a transsexual man-fish, which is apparently much more in line with the company's new target market.
- BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, tried to invoke this, putting out full-page ads stating that they care about the environment and they're doing their absolute besty-best to clean up the 2010 Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico (but apparently had money leftover for full-page ads about it), which became bigger than the Exxon-Valdez disaster in the late '80s.
- Phillip Morris and their We Care-style ads that ran during the period of time when Congress was enacting new anti-smoking laws and regulations. Most said something to the effect of "smoking these things will kill you, so read this medical data and buy snus instead, please."
- The Australian/New Zealand energy drink "Mother" was hideously unpopular due to its horrid taste. After it was re-formulated, an extensive marketing campaign was launched, including new cans that stated (literally) "Tastes NOTHING like the old one!" and TV ads depicting commandos beating up the people responsible for the taste of the old formula.
- This was parodied savagely on The Simpsons. In the 1999 episode "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday", a TV screen shows a slightly surreal ad in which a car pulls up at a service station somewhere in the middle of the desert. Then the doors of the car open, and loud rock music blasts as a group of....well, whores start shimmying and vamping for the camera. Only then does the ad reveal that one of the girls is wearing a crucifix, and a lascivious male announcer states: "The Catholic Church. We've made a few...changes." We then cut immediately to the Simpsons' living room, where Lisa notes: "These Super Bowl ads get weirder every year."
- Melbourne radio station Triple M started out as a rock station, but got steadily more pop-oriented in The Noughties. In 2010, its playlists removed some of the lighter, poppier fare, and older and harder rock "classics" got more rotation. The station's advertisements during this period followed the trope exactly. It's still quite mainstream, though.
- K-Rock in New York went through an almost identical period: after losing Howard Stern but later picking up Opie And Anthony, someone got the bright idea to switch formats (with cryptic advertisements that sounded more like horror-movie scare warnings) to all-talk radio. Ratings tanked, largely due to constantly shifting programs/schedules and little coherence between them aside from "radio talk show." They later reverted to a rock format, including sweepers stating "The Rock Is Back". Apparently it wasn't back enough, as they later switched AGAIN to "New 92", a Top40 format.
- Southern Ontario station Q107 plays many bumpers advertising that their commercials aren't as long as they used to be. Problem is, the bumpers only play before every commercial break, making one build an instinctive reflex to change the station upon hearing them.
- Almost every single advertisement from Icelandic banks after they collapsed in 2008, nearly bankrupting the country.
- There was once a Sprite commercial brandishing their new logo design and new taste... except at the end of the commercial was a cue card and the announcer very quickly stating "Now tastes more like 7-Up!". It was very quickly pulled off the air after someone at Coca-Cola must have realized the implications of admitting that the competition is better and something you're striving to be like.
- Nintendo did this twice during the transition between the Nintendo GameCube and the Wii:
- A video game magazine once said that Star Wars video games were "back" and got a LucasArts employee to admit in an interview that there had been a time period during which Star Wars games had been sub-par.
- Taco Bell has begun trying this in the wake of the release of a study about just what quality their meat really is.
- Skoda, the Czech car company, used to have a reputation for making memetically bad cars in the UK during the Cold War. Since then they have been taken over by VW and now make cars of similar quality (often pretty much the same cars, in fact) but considerably cheaper. They were able to make a comeback in the UK with these cars by an advert campaign that acknowledged their former reputation and poked fun at it, for example with characters who refused to believe a car was a Skoda; the campaign was called "It's a Skoda. Honest."
- Or in the Dutch speaking world: a whole page dedicated to showing every older model of Skoda and in the middle the slogan "Skoda: no more laughing".
- This was likely behind the Two Worlds developers mocking how bad TwoWorlds was before the release of Two Worlds 2. See here for the video on Youtube
- From the lead up to Sonic 4 onwards, Sonic Team's commercials have focused on assuring fans (or at the very least, those who lapsed from the fandom) that their games are no longer like their much maligned titles from the Playstation 2 era onwards: for example, the trailer for Sonic Generations includes a retrospective of Sonic games since the original Sonic the Hedgehog...and before the clip reaches Sonic Heroes (where the decline is often cited to have begun) we get a long shot of Sonic looking quite exasperated. Similarly, in the actual game, the level for the 2006 game is fittingly Crisis City.
- Irish Rail company Iarnrod Eireann had a "Soon we won't suck any more" with their slogan, "Getting there"...
- Very similar to British Rail's 1980s slogan "We're getting there".
- Hardee's/Carl's Jr when they invented the Thickburger. It was widely imitated.
- Cartoon Network tried this approach when promoting its CNReal programming block, saying "We're not just cartoons anymore." It apparently didn't occur to them that there need to be a large volume of complaints in the first place for this to work. CNReal flopped horribly, and while the network does still go for live-action, they're now just treating it as just another program.
- A commercial for the Atari 5200 actually lampooned their infamous Atari 2600 Pac-Man. This was because the Colecovision had an expansion module available that could play Atari 2600 games, and Atari was discouraging people from the competition.
- When Hyundai reentered the American market after addressing safety concerns, they aired a commercial showing a car driving through the countryside while an announcer described the car without mentioning the company, until the last line of the ad, which ended like with the words "...with the new Scoupe from Hyundai...yes, Hyundai."
- Microsoft's "The Browser You Loved To Hate" Internet Explorer campaign
- Microsoft's campaign with the Office 97 dinosaurs also qualifies, though in a very different way. They weren't trying to convince people to give a formerly-notorious product a new chance; they were actually trying to CONVINCE the public that '97 sucked. Microsoft's biggest problem selling Office 2000/XP was that people felt their current versions of Office were good enough and were standing pat rather than pay as much as $300 for the upgrade.
- PG&E started a campaign of this nature after the San Bruno gasoline explosion.
- A variation in one ad that had a mother unpacking a grocery bag and producing a bottle of Listerine, causing all her children to flee from its horrible taste. "Relax," she explains, "it's new Less Intense!"
- There's a Sears commercial in which a woman is continually asked where she got her clothes, and each time responds "Sears" with a little bit more confidence as she learns that no one will mock her for clothes shopping at Sears.
- The ad Tagline for Dead or Alive 5 is "I'm a Fighter", which ties in with Team Ninja's campaign to get the Fighting Game Community to take DOA seriously and not for it to be seen as a purely casual game.
- Ads for the ABC sitcom The Neighbors have taken to saying things like, "Critics are changing their minds about The Neighbors!"
- J.C. Penney suffered a backlash from its formerly loyal customers after they brought in a new CEO in 2011 and began selling clothes from hip, new brands aimed at attracting the younger crowd (like T-shirts you'd expect to find at Hot Topic, for starters). Their sales plummeted. As a result the new CEO was fired, the old CEO was brought back, and an ad was released promising that the changes had been reversed, saying "We learned a very simple thing, to listen to you. Come back to J.C. Penney, we'd love to see you."
- NBC's reveal trailer for season 3 of Heroes opened with what was essentially an apology for season 2 and claiming that the viewers from Comic Con who were disappointed in S2 thought it was better.
- The deregulation of the Swedish railroad system has not been a painless affair, and what with one thing and the other, it's reached the point where train travel in the winter means there will be hideous delays — assuming the departure isn't cancelled outright.note It got to the point where SJ (the largest of the passenger train operators) ran ads that had SJ employees go to absurd lengths to avoid telling people where they worked, ending with a tag that essentially boiled down to "We're sorry! We'll do better! We Don't Suck Anymore!"
- Most people in the UK hated the Go Compare adverts featuring the "Go Compare" song. After around a year or so (maybe more) of generally not realising the public hated their adverts, they started creating adverts in which the Go Compare singer is punished in numerous ways. They seem to have stopped now, but the character no longer sings, instead being portrayed as more meek and normal. It hasn't stopped the adverts being played excessively on TV. Later commercials have the singer pitching new ideas on how to advertise Go Compare, which are all really bad. Makes one wonder if they are going for a "Our commercials could have been worse" angle.
- Foster Farms tried this out of desperation after their 2013 salmonella debacle, taking out full page ads in newspapers to ensure customers that their meat wouldn't make them sick anymore.
- Iceland, a British grocery chain, has a section of its website critical of Bill Grimsey, who was Chairman of the company during the worst period in its history.