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Hilarious In Hindsight / Advertising

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  • This ad for MLB 12: The Show depicts the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series and all of Chicago celebrating, even the Pope himself, before eventually cutting to a sobbing Cubs fan in his room with a PS3 controller, indicating it was part of the game. On November 3rd, 2016, that day would become a reality.
    • Also doubles as Harsher in Hindsight, considering the Cubs finished the 2012 season losing 101 games - their worst record in 46 years.
  • The "Phones-4-You" ad campaign goes from being a mildly successful attempt at Memetic Mutation to being pretty hilarious once you've played Metal Gear Solid 4, where the weapons merchant has a hand-gesture catchphrase for the slogan 'EYE HAVE YOU'.
  • This 1982 ad for Pepto-Bismol features a then-unknown Jeff Daniels as a college student talking to his parents about a lot of students with diarrhea and how the doctors gave the college's group Pepto-Bismol! The ad even features his mom saying at the beginning: "Diarrhea down here?" This was 12 years before Jeff Daniels' most well known moment in Dumb and Dumber.
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  • At the time it aired, a McDonald's commercial featuring *NSYNC and Britney Spears playing "spin the bottle" had a rather light-hearted punchline, whereby the bottle stops on Justin Timberlake, not Britney. A few years later, Lance Bass came out as gay, and it gives the ad a whole new meaning.
  • The Big Boss Grill.
  • A drug PSA showed Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) talking about how dangerous crack was. Reubens would later go on to play a drug dealer in the movie Blow. Then again, he had already been in some Cheech and Chong movies, which are about drugs.
  • David Kaye. Beast Wars Megatron. Enzyte commercial announcer. Enzyte was charged with fraud.
  • After an Encyclopedia Britannica commercial had its run, they decided to make a direct follow-up to it. And the very first line said was, "Remember me?" To add, both were made by Stan Freberg, who was the voiceover talent. The onscreen talent? Freberg's son.
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  • The "Lex Luthor stole forty cakes" meme takes a new meaning with an UK advert for Innocent Smoothies, which shows a bakery named "Luthor's Cakes".
  • A 1996 This is SportsCenter ad featured Karl Ravech and Keith Olbermann interviewing former Senator Bill Bradley for a job. The last line of the commercial has them questioning whether he'd spoken in front of an audience. Bradley says he gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Olbermann replies, "We meant a large audience." One that a decade later he himself would try to tap.
  • T-Mobile made a series of anti-AT&T commercials, very closely modeled after Apple's infamous "I'm a Mac and I'm a PC" ads. Mere months later, T-Mobile was almost absorbed into AT&T.
  • Alltel Wireless also ran a series of ads spoofing their competition, with takeoffs of AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint "employees" featured (and the Verizon character often the butt of the jokes) — until merger talks between Alltel and Verizon heated up. The Verizon character was quietly dropped late in the campaign — shortly before Alltel itself was dropped into Verizon.
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  • Lebron James appeared in a State Farm commercial where he dreamed of playing for the Cleveland Browns. The team they were playing? The MIAMI Dolphins.
  • Sega Saturn vs. "Plaything". The Console Wars would determine which one was worthy. It was the PlayStation.
  • An article on X-Entertainment points this out about a Reese's Pieces commercial starring an alien.
  • Sega's very attack-oriented advertisement campaign with arrogant claims and insults directed at Nintendo in The '90s led to many instances of this trope:
    • The Game Gear commercials poked fun at the Game Boy's graphical limitations. Everyone forgot about the Game Gear's existence before Nintendo even announced the Game Boy Color.
    • "Genesis does what Nintendon't." One decade-and-a-half later, Sega decides to release a special version of the Genesis with Wii-mote inspired controllers.
    • "Genesis does what Nintendon't" doesn't mean anything anymore now that the Wii's Virtual Console service has Genesis games. A few years later, the Nintendo 3DS is announced to have plans for Game Gear games on its own Virtual Console in addition to Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, furthering the effect.
    • Also, one infamous Sega CD commercial has become this. "You still don't have a Sega CD? What are you waiting for, Nintendo to make one?!" Nintendo was actually the last console maker to get into using optical media (though despite a common misconception, Gamecube and Wii discs aren't CDs—they're more like DVDs).
      • In a way, Nintendo had the last laugh on this one. They actually did attempt to contract with Sony to develop a CD-ROM add-on for the SNES. The deal went sour, resulting in Sony developing the device into a stand-alone console which went on to become a significant factor in Sega's exit from the console market altogether.
  • One old "Cartoon Network Responds" bumper had them respond to a Jim Carrey fan who asked them for a picture of him. They told said fan they'd never show anything with Jim Carrey in it. Fast forward to their shift to live-action programming, and they eventually would show both The Mask and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.note  What's also damning about that ad is the majority of the characters listed in it are no longer shown on the network.
  • Another Cartoon Network promo. The time, early 2000s. Cartoon Cartoons were the Kings and Queens of the Network, Scrappy Doo and his fellow Hanna-Barbera cartoons forced out to be shown less in favor of Cartoon Cartoons. The time, late 2010s, Warner Brothers has released a little over half of their Hanna Barbera offerings to DVD, and very few of the Cartoon Cartoon offerings. It's almost as if one seems to attract a bigger audience for perpetual re watching and the other doesn't. Hmm so Cartoon Network which one did people more want to rewatch? Looks like Scrappy had a point after all.
    • It got even harsher. In 2017 WB re-released most of the store editions of the HB shows with brand new discs manufactured. In 2019 WB re-released several CN originals to remove the Turner name from them. The Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends Season One sets were left overs of the first run with press material still in printed from 2007! The Powerpuff Girls Season one re-release were the 2007 sets with a new slip cover and some allegations some were broken down parts of complete series collections. Some didn't even get these at all. And yes, by comparison even Scrappy freakin' Doo appeared on new discs. That's some burn.
  • Continuing on with this trend. This ad is one of many to utilize Kwicky Koala as a punching bag. While not as damning to Hanna Barbera as a whole, the implication being no one would want to watch reruns of Kwicky Koala. Of course Cartoon Network would indeed start showing more and more reruns of their original cartoons over and over. Now fastforward to now again where Kwicky Koala and other short lived Hanna-Barbera cartoons can all sell well and fine on dvd, while dvds for more prominent Cartoon Network shows like Dexter's Laboratory are still stalled due to them not selling so hot. Who's pounding the bed in frustration now CN? Certainly not Kwicky Koala's fans.
  • This ball really does keep rolling. Again a Hanna Barbera character is shown to be not happy about how much less work he's gotten since it "got crowded". Back then he had to show the new guy around before getting the boot to maybe being shown on Boomerang. Now realize how this commercial could be switched with Edd as the old veteran showing another new guy around, and so on and so on. What goes around comes around and oh yeah. Ugh now can get all of his "work" on your dvd player while again Double D's "work" is still only partially available.
  • The famous CN parking lot ad is also funny in another way in hindsight. The primary joke being the cartoons can't find parking spots because the network keeps adding more and more shows to the lineup. Back then the network had dozens of different shows airing throughout the week. Nowadays with their lineup so limited the modern characters have their pick of multiple parking spots.
  • This CN ad is also harsh but for different reasons. Eddy here disrespects Captain Planet which is in itself funny, but has become harsher given the internet divide between Cohen-era CN fans and Samples-era CN fans. Regardless of what they like or dislike either Ed, Edd n Eddy or Captain Planet and the Planeteers most Cohen era fans know exactly who they are. But it has become apparent there is a lot of Cowboy BeBop at His Computer in regards to older shows among Samples-era fans. As such it's not hard to see this ad also represent these two fanbases arguments over the last two decades.
    • As of 2019 all of these Cartoon Network examples are now even more hilarious given that new owners AT&T just basically handed them over to Warner Bros. The separate Turner culture that helped spawn commercials like these about their old characters just got handed to the people who have kept them alive since then.
  • This 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid ad mocking the Toyota Prius "Yes" campaign is hilarious enough on its own, but not long afterwards, Honda reintroduced their Insight hybrid as a five-door hatchback which looked a hell of a lot like the car they were making fun of before.
  • More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette
  • In some old Windows 95 commercials (such as this one here), Microsoft used a 2 by 2 grid of squares that were colored the same way as the Windows flag in order to demonstrate certain features, though it wasn't their official logo. 17 years later, Windows 8 shows up with a more tablet-oriented UI. Guess what their logo turns into?
  • The Brazilian arm of Fiat made an ad related to the 2013 Confederations Cup, entitled "Come to the Street", described as "the biggest bleacher of Brazil". Given that at the same time huge protests emerged in the country, the revolted people embraced it as an anthem. "Come to the Street" became their motto (along with "The Giant Awoke", taken from a Johnnie Walker ad) and was stamped and sung everywhere.
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar did an ad for Burger King complaining that rivals do not have as much meat, she was about six at the time. Today she has less meat than some girls at the same age she did the ad.
    • Also, the rivals in Gellar's Burger King commercials included McDonalds. Thirty years later, Gellar would play an advertising executive on The Crazy Ones. Guess who their first client was.
  • In a Dutch ad for distance education service LOI, well-known lawyer Bram Mozkowicz is involved in a - very minor - traffic collision, and is stunned by the other party's legal knowledge. In 2014, an automobile police chase in Amsterdam came to an abrupt halt when the perpetrator's car crashed into Mozkowicz's Aston Martin, with Mozkowicz inside. (Thankfully, nobody was hurt.)
  • During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Singapore ran a public service campaign on problem gambling; one advertisement showed a group of children discussing who would win. It then cuts to a depressing shot of a sad young boy hoping for Germany to win, as his dad bet all of his son's savings on them. Depressing ... until Germany beat Brazil 7-1, and eventually won the whole thing.
  • In 2002, Nickelodeon ran a Nickmas bumper that was a parody of Frosty the Snowman with Patrick Star playing the snowman. Three years later, The Legend of Frosty the Snowman comes out with Bill Fagerbakke, Patrick's voice actor, playing Frosty.
  • A Nickelodeon bumper from 1980 (long before it had its signature orange splat logo, or even its silver ball logo) featured a mime reading a magazine with "Nickelodeon" as the title, a decade before Nickelodeon Magazine began publication.
  • During his time with the NBA's Charlotte Hornets, star power forward Larry Johnson did a commercial as part of the Converse "Grandmama" series where Johnson (as Grandmama) was stuck in three-point land and needed to get to the low post. Partly because of a 1993 knee injury, Johnson would later develop into a decent outside shooter for someone in his position; with his most famous individual play coming at the end of game 3 of the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals between the New York Knicks (which Johnson had joined in 1996) and Indiana Pacers when Johnson hit a three-pointer that became known as a "four-point play" due to Johnson being fouled and sinking the free throw for the winning points in the 92-91 victory en route to the last-seeded Knicks winning the series in 6 games and going to the NBA Finals.
  • Similar to the Sega vs. Nintendo ads listed above, Apple once regularly ran ads such as this one making fun of the Intel processors used in PCs while touting the superiority of the PowerPC chips that Macs used. Fast forward to the mid-2000's, and Apple announces that they're switching their computers from PowerPC chips to Intel ones. From the start of the Intel transition to the present, Apple's promotional material has continuously sang the praises of Intel's CPUs, which was somewhat necessary because of the rabid hatred for Intel that they had cultivated among their fanbase.
  • A GEICO commercial had the caveman playing against Brian Orakpo in Scrabble. The caveman's shirt resembled the colors of Tennessee Titans, who Orakpo would sign for next.
  • One of the first European slogans for Sony's PlayStation was Do Not Underestimate The Power Of PlayStation. Coincidentally the console took the video game industry by storm despite people within Sony, video game journalists and consumers claiming that It Will Never Catch On before release.
  • This 1981 commercial for Polaroid starring The Muppets has Gonzo lamenting that no one wants a picture of his face. While it should be a Tear Jerker, it becomes delightfully ironic if you remember that Gonzo was going to be on the cover for the stalled The Muppet Show Season 4 DVD...
  • An Italian toy company named Giochi Preziosi has a collectibles division named Preziosi Collection. Each of it's commercials end with a white ghost mascot swinging his arms and pointing them as he sings the company's jingle. A few years after the first ad with said tag aired, Yo Kai Watch would have an opening credits sequence where a white ghost character who looks similar to the company's mascot does a similar dance along with other characters.
  • Gene Wilder starred in and narrated this Tootsie Roll commercial, about a candy maker who dreads leaving the Tootsie Roll factory, because of candy thieves. Three years later, he starred in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, as a candy maker who actually never leaves his factory.
  • In 1999, Kids' WB! was hosted by the members of Barenaked Ladies for what was to be called "Naked Day", a promo for which featured network censor Lydia Karaoke advising the viewer to wear clothes in spite of the name. Incidentally, the network received complaints about the name, forcing it to be changed to "BNL Day".
    • Wait... BnL day?
  • This 1993 ad for the Got Milk? campaign runs on the premise that only an obsessed nerd would know who shot Alexander Hamilton. As of the release of the popular Broadway musical Hamilton, few people today would find that a difficult question.
  • This Dutch ad for an English language school (NSFW for language) becomes funnier when the girl on the back right grew up to be porn star Anjelica Ebbi.
  • A Coca-Cola commercial promoting the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament has a group of Kentucky fans forced to take refuge at a rival Kansas fan's house due to a power outage while the two teams are playing each other. After both teams' eliminations in the Elite Eight by North Carolina and Oregon, respectively, students of both of the winning colleges heavily mocked the commercial on Twitter.
  • The unfortunately named "Ayds" diet pill from the 1970s to the 1980s has led to much retrospective hilarity from its commercials. Not coincidentally, it was withdrawn from the market soon after awareness of the AIDS epidemic became more widespread.
    Announcer: Question: Why take diet pills when you can enjoy Ayds?
  • NBC's second "Ted Lasso" advertisement for their Premier League coverage ended with fictional coach Ted Lasso being offered a job at newly-promoted Leicester, who were expected by many to be relegation strugglers. Cue the laughter when Leicester won the league in 2016.
  • This Apple commercial predicts the iPhone with Siri in 1987.
  • A 1980's American Express ad features a businessman getting in trouble in France, after hitting his head and saying "I am a spy."
  • The Vince and Larry PSAs (the crash dummies encouraging seat belt use) had one where they promote an album of songs they supposedly recorded. (All of the songs seem to themed around injuries from a car accident.) This was before we heard from the band Crash Test Dummies. (Their lyrics tend to be rather dark as well.)
  • During its 2002 Kids Choice Awards, Nickelodeon aired a commercial where some of Nicktoon's biggest stars at the time would duke it out against each other anime-style. Five years later, a show called Avatar: The Last Airbender came along. And five more years later, this happens.
  • This 1964 ad for President's Johnson's reelection campaign features a buzzing phone labeled "White House", claimed to only ring in times in crisis. It asks the viewer to vote for Johnson, who has "proven himself responsible" to answer the phone on such occasions. Sounds familiar?
  • During the 2004-2005 NFL season, franchise Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Donovan McNabb, was featured on a series of Campbells soup commercials. His team made it to the Superbowl that season where he had a Never Live It Down moment when he threw up during the game out of nervousness. The jokes that most people made after the game, where the Eagles lost to the New England Patriots, was that McNabb ate too much Campbells soup.
  • A 1997 print ad for Nokia phones boasted, "Ten years from now, people will still say 'cool phone.'" Ten years later, the iPhone came out that would render Nokia-style phones obsolete. On the other hand, the Nokia phone's incredibly sturdiness compared to newer smartphones prompted it to Memetic Badass status in the early 2010s.
  • Land-O-Lakes dairy products were frequently abbreviated to "LOL" on receipts and signs some time before the text speak meaning of "Laughing Out Loud". You may LOL if you see LOL CHEESE on your receipt these days...
  • This late-2000s "No Talking or Phones" Warning from Sprint focuses on a fictional movie about a hedgehog, with serious debate among the creative team about making a big last-minute change to the title character's design (specifically, whether he should wear pants.) Life would imitate art with Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) and its redesign of the title character's model after the first trailer had already dropped due to the terrible public reception.
  • A Gushers commercial sang about a boy with a blue Gusher in his eye. The placement and color of the Gusher has him resembling a certain infamous skeleton.
  • In this Korean TV ad for the PlayStation 4, a husband tries to lie to his skeptical wife that the new PS4 that a technician installed in their living room is actually a WiFi Router called "Plash Speed". Then came the PlayStation 5, which many joke look like a WiFi Router.
  • In the 90's, Cartoon Network once held a LEGO giveaway sweepstakes, the gimmick being Scooby-Doo and Shaggy terrified at the sight of so many LEGO sets. It would be nearly two decades until the Scooby-Doo franchise itself becomes a LEGO licensee as well.
  • A Gilette ad promoting Man of Steel asked how Superman shaves. After Henry Cavill returned to play Superman in Justice League (2017), but couldn't shave the mustache he grew for a role in Mission: Impossible – Fallout, it seems the answer is, "They just edit his facial hair out."
  • In the very early 2000s, some Disney DVDs had promos for the all-new Disney California Adventure. In them, the citizens of Disneyland were trying to get a look at their new neighbor, with Buzz Lightyear spying on the park and relaying the details to his friends (including Woody and Flik), while dissuading them from going over to the park themselves. Flik and his friends would soon get their own section of the park, A Bug’s Land, which lasted more than a decade. Woody and Buzz would get a midway ride at DCA in 2011, and with the retheming of Paradise Pier, their many unborn co-workers would all but take over the place!
    • In the first ad, Buzz compliments a “nice limo.” The apparent reference, Superstar Limo, would go down as the most unpopular and unsuccessful ride in the park, closing within the year and replaced by... a Monsters, Inc. ride!
  • A Domino’s Pizza ad from late 2020 depicted NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin stopping at a Domino’s restaurant to pick up a pizza in his stock car and fire suit. The 2021 Daytona 500, three months later, would have a six-hour delay due to inclement weathernote , during which fellow driver Ross Chastain got drive-thru food while still in his fire suit.
  • An ad for Ty the Tasmanian Tiger featured three competitors — "Dragon," "Bandicoot," and "Hedgehog" — bandaged up after being hit with Ty's boomerang. Then Ty walks in and spooks them into flatlining. The ad is amusingly ironic now that Ty hasn't had a new (non-port) game since 2013 while all three of his competitors are continuing franchises with more mainstream popularity.

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