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 stated on the main page, 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 their article "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, which the article notes is enough money that you could easily buy three hundred regular pens with.
This website, As Failed On TV, showcases several examples of this.
Practically every food processor TV spot begins by showing us someone who should not be allowed near a knife under any circumstances 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 by "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.
Again, something that was meant for people with arthritis. For the rest of us, the act of shoving an egg into a receptacle is much more time consuming than just cracking it.
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?
That machine was originally designed with amputees and people who have serious joint problems in mind; if you still have functional arms, you have no excuse.
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. This does, of course, sound very much like a sinister Assimilation Plot.
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.
FWIW, cling wrap can be notoriously frustrating to unroll, but that's a whole different product idea.
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.
One of the best has to be an ad for a coffee maker. 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. Even worse: this commercial was in use to market a line of "cold brewed iced coffee in a carton" products.
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.
Furthermore, AT&T's phone wouldn't solve his problem. He wants to be able to talk on the phone and surf the net at the same time. Even if his phone could do both at once, he can't talk while looking at his phone, and he can't surf the net if the phone's up to his ear. He'd need a headset of some kind, which would solve his juggling problem anyway.
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!" Though at least KGB has the niche market of people without smartphones.
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 (or it's obscured by something that half-matches your search terms but is much more "relevant").
Remember when Bing aired a commercial featuring the "Bing It On" challenge? The idea was a blind test between Google and Bing, to determine which was better. Well, those able to read page source info were able to determine that both sides of the "blind test" were actually Bing, just coded with HTML to look like Google.
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. Repeat: This is a jump rope, without the 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.
Jumping up and down while moving your arms is 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".And if that's still too hard for you... well, we probably can't help you any more.
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: 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.note It's even easier than that - the PS3 will generally immediately notify you when there's a firmware update, and if you're a member of PlayStation Plus you have the option for your PS3 to download them on its own as well. Admittedly, there are users either without access to high-speed, unlimited Internet, or really as dumb as this trope suggests.
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...
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.
This was the final product in that Cracked article, and they point out that they can't even do the "too incompetent" part right. The very next shot after the tomato one features a man carving a turkey perfectly - but, because he isn't using the Miracle Blade to do so, this counts as "destroying" it.
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. This was mentioned in that Cracked article, too, where the commercial seems to forget about that part immediately while demonstrating how it works. To quote:
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. A subsequent dramatic collapse onto whatever happens to be available at the time is quite possible, and even likely.
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 a 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. You know, the same pump that is filling your other hand with anti-bacterial soap.
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, you'd likely 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: World's 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.
Especially since in many places, talking on a hand-held phone while driving is flatly illegal - granted, that's exactly what the product is trying to help with.
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.
Not to mention, as pointed out by MikeJ, some shots even showed perfectly empty benches in the background.
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 - apparently an old couch impedes the use of one's arms during the daunting task of rising from a sitting position.
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. Note, though, that she's using it as an analogy to explain what goes through her mind right before she punches Dr. Kroger:
"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?"
"Yes, but it was sooooo worth it!"
This advert for a cycle computer shows a rival being utterly flummoxed 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.
It 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. On the other hand, the ads could also be implying that the women featured aren't that stupid so much as they are indecisive. Of course, anyone who has to have several seconds to think about unplugging either a plug-in air-freshener or an appliance capable of causing an electrical fire if left plugged-in probably isn't working with all the cylinders in the common sense part of their brain firing.
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.
One stand-up comedian has expressed his disappointment that the Lap 'n Snack was not a real product. He wanted one, and felt cheated when it turned out to just be a car commercial.
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 much other than money 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 ad 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.
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 in spectacular fashion, an aim that is so atrocious that you wonder, "do they also miss the bowl while pouring their morning 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."
"The false advertising is blatant. For example, the guy at the football game can apparently hear the quarterback call plays in the huddle from the stands. Unless the Listen Up is capable of some fancy Fourier analysis for isolating specific sounds, and you can be sure that it is not, then he would bleed from the ears due to amplified crowd noise before ever hearing a single call. The only reason his ears aren't bleeding is because, as the customer reviews can tell you, the piece of crap doesn't work."
Brian Regan made fun of the product by pointing out how in the ad, someone using the Listen Up overhears two other women enviously discussing how good she looks. As he then proceeds to point out, people generally don't whisper compliments behind your back, implying that what you would actually hear would be vicious, friendship-ending insults.
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 features a woman who has apparently never used a toothbrush before in her life, as even incidental bristle contact causes her to recoil in pain as if she had been brushing with a steak knife.
Parakeets are great to have around the house, but do you get tired of taking five minutes out of your daily routine to care for it and spending about $10 every two weeks or so on new supplies? Introducing what surely must be the lowest (but probably the most hilarious) point of this trope, the Perfect Polly Pet! note Yes, they actually tried to market a plastic novelty toy of all things in this manner.
Another compilation, cut down to just the incompetency, here.
The Wax Vac, a sort of wetvac for one's ear canal, is a Zigzagging of the trope. The "cheaper, easier way everyone already does" (IE, swab 'em out with a Q-tip) is one that's specifically warned against (There's a warning label on every box and people are advised not to insert anything larger than their own elbow into their ear canals); and it is rather easy to poke your eardrums with one if you're not careful-which does indeed hurt like crazy. However, sticking what amounts to a pistol-shaped vacuum cleaner in there may be just as harmful; and the actor hired barely inserts the Q-tip before screaming at the top of his lungs in the most unintentionally hilarious way as possible.
There's something out there called the Uro Club. It's basically a golf club with a built in storage tank for you to urinate into if you are the kind of person who is unable to hold your bladder in until the 18th hole. Though it has a towel as well to be discretionary, it doesn't look at all that discreet.