The original ads for the Volkswagen Beetle constantly mocked the car for its small size. Allegedly this violated one of the unwritten rules of advertising, "Don't mock the product." The ad campaign was a smash success.
This was the famous "Think Small" ad campaign of 1959. This, and its successor of 1960 ("Lemon") started the so-called "Creative Revolution" in advertising: put the creative guys in charge of selling the ad. This ad series gets a Shout-Out in Mad Men: in Season 1, set in 1960, which Don Draper does not approve (talking derisively about its creator, Julian Koenig). By Season 4 (starting in November 1964), his ads are more or less in the same vein.
The ESPN SportsCenter ads are usually at the expense of the athletes, the anchors or the company itself.
A Burger Kingad for a breakfast sandwich that's a ripoff of the Egg McMuffin depicts the King breaking into the McDonald's headquarters, stealing the McMuffin recipe, and escaping on a scooter. Also counts as Refuge in Audacity.
Another instance came after a few of the ads involving the King Mascot. People across the internet began referring to the mascot as "the creepy king" based on both the Uncanny Valley appearance of the person and the way he always appeared in very odd situations offering people a burger or breakfast sandwich. The commercials started to refer to him as "The Creepy King".
The infamous "HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead" commercials have been superseded by a variant where the product's mantra is interrupted by people excoriating the repetitiveness of the commercial.
Some years ago, a Dutch brand of condiments had a special offer where their products would come with free napkin-rings with funny limericks written on them. In the commercial, a lady was shown reading the napkin-ring with an increasingly obvious lack of interest, then throwing it in the trash.
Stan Freberg created a memorable series of ads for the Sunsweet prune company, emphasizing what people dislike most about the dried fruit: the wrinkles and the pits. They boasted that they'd gotten rid of the pits; the wrinkles were another matter. "Today, the pits. Tomorrow, the wrinkles. Sunsweet marches on."
Vince Offer, previous commercial pitchman for the Sham Wow!, has been pitching commercials for a product called the Schticky. At one point in the commercial, he says "Use it during moments you'd like to forget!" as a mugshot is taken of him, referencing his earlier arrest for assaulting a prostitute.
A Capital One ad ends with one of the vikings asking Alec Baldwin if he can play games on his smartphone; he responds "Just not on the tarmac, believe me!" This refers to an infamous incident where Baldwin got thrown off an airplane for refusing to stop playing Words with Friends long enough for the plane to take off.
Insurance comparison site Go Compare's adverts starring Gio Compario, a fictional tenor who sang an irritating jingle, were voted the UK's most annoying advert two years running. Go Compare responded by running a series of ads in which various celebrities inflict harm on Gio, such as blowing him up with a rocket launcher, kicking him in the groin, or sucking him into a black hole, all with the tagline "Saving The Nation".
One case where this sort of thing seriously backfired was McDonald's $100 million advertising campaign - one of the most expensive in history - to promote the Arch Deluxe. Billed as a "hamburger for adults", several of the commercials (none of which were very appealing) expressed how much children would not like it. Both the campaign and the product was a failure, which likely resulted in a management shake-up.
Hemglass uses the slogan, "Hemsk musik. God glass." It means "Horrible music. Good ice cream." The music in question one of the most infamous tunes in Sweden, and signals the arrival of the ice cream truck to the neighbourhood.
Tesco Mobile - a mobile network provider that's effectively a punchline in the UK - ran a series of ads riffing off that reputation. Someone would admit to being on Tesco Mobile, everyone in the vicinity would laugh at them for it, then a famous comedian would appear and stop the laughter by pointing out Tesco Mobile's award-winning features.
This has been the MO of Domino's Pizza for a few years now. They are essentially admitting publicly they are trying to repair their image. It started in 2009 with the Domino's Pizza Turnaround campaign, and went downhill from there as they became the Rodney Dangerfield of fast food delivery.
Pro soccer star Landon Donovan began making commercials mocking his controversial exclusion from the US roster for The World Cup. One for EA sports where he plays himself winning the title - on his couch, in the videogame - and another for Nike mocking "short memories"
Donovan-They couldn't cut me, I'm the captain!
During the 1960s and 1970s, the California Public Utilities Commission stated that General Telephone of California (GTE, now owned by Verizon) was "the worst telephone company in the country, bar none." GTE ran TV ads including this one where a Public Relations flack announced (to boos and catcalls) that they were improving their facilities and equipment to provide better telephone service, while showing him being pelted with eggs, tomatoes and a cream pie.
Brigham Young University, whose sports teams are nicknamed "Cougars", ran a promotional campaign in the early 2010s called "Real Cougar", a series of commercials featuring notable BYU people (mostly sports alums, plus a couple of coaches) interacting with an actual cougar (obviously inserted by computer). In one of the ads, Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young had this interaction with the cougar:
Young – I love BYU so much, I even got my law degree here.note He actually did.