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Horrible / Advertising

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"The most common trouble with advertising is that it tries too hard to impress people."
James Randolph Adams

Advertisments litter every television, newspaper, and website they can find... and naturally, consumers will fall over and buy what's being promoted. But, why buy certain products if their ads are so bad, they're horrible? These advertisements are so bad that they even drove the people who liked the product in the first place away. This is the bottom of the barrel for commercialism.

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For a different variety of really bad advertising, see What Were They Selling Again?. For otherwise decent ads that had one horrid messup, see the Dethroning Moment page. British website Ad Turds was set up for just this sort of thing - exposing, ridiculing, and stomping on this sort of advertising.

Important Note: Merely being offensive in its subject matter is not enough to justify a work as So Bad It's Horrible. Hard as it is to imagine at times, there is a market for all types of deviancy (no matter how small a niche it is). It has to fail to appeal even to that niche to qualify as this.


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Examples (in more-or-less alphabetical order):

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    Ad Types 
  • Many, if not all, animated web and pop-up ads can easily fall here, especially if you have an older, slower OS or are browsing using a mobile platform. Yes, it does cost money to ruin our lives, but do these execs seriously believe that clogging up people's modems so their logo can fly across your screen and obscure the text you're trying to read will create a positive reception for their product, especially when nobody who's the least bit worried about their reputation employs that strategy?
  • Any ad that automatically plays sounds is more likely to make the user mute their volume or close the page than to catch their attention. To make things worse, certain sound-playing ads are actually a whole commercial, and are designed to begin playing their audio before the page is even open onscreen so you're forced to either listen to it or click around wondering which open window is playing the sound. It's not as annoying if your computer's sound system has physical controls for volume on it, but if they don't — and you haven't turned down the sound on the computer itself - you just wonder what made the companies think annoying you is a good way to advertise their product. Thankfully, some web browsers, including Firefox and Chrome, now not only show an icon on tabs that are playing sound for quicker squashing of those ads, but let you click that icon to mute the tab without leaving your current one.
  • Some ads can easily cross into Nightmare Fuel territory, namely because they cover your whole screen, attempt to terrify you with a false statement of your computer being infected, and then prevent you from leaving the page normally. Most of these sorts of ads are from rogue antiviruses or ransomware scams based out of India or another third-world country, and you'd be surprised how many people fall for them.
  • Any web ad that disguises itself as a Microsoft Windows dialog box. Designed to trick gullible users into downloading spyware and will get the makers in hot water with the Better Business Bureau (I-A-2, second bullet point). Not to mention that they almost always look very off: they almost always impersonate the Vista/7 style in the default color scheme, failing to fool those who bothered changing the color scheme, let alone those who use other operating systems. Up until around the mid-2010s, many were still using XP-style or even 9x-style boxes.
  • Straight from Russia, a new type of browser-hijacking ad has emerged to take advantage of the rise of browser extensions - heralded by the sound of "CLICK ADD EXTENSION TO CLOSE THIS PAGE" being blared through your speakers by a crappy text-to-speech voice, you'd better hope you can close them before they finish loading, or they'll spam your computer with dialog boxes that force you to install their malware-loaded extension, and even then, the ad might not close afterwards. Attempting to close the dialog boxes just causes more to load up. Once it finishes loading, the only way to get out without installing the malware is to close out of your browser entirely.
  • Any web ad that automatically redirects your browser. These are particularly loathsome, as not only do they interrupt whatever you're trying to read, nine times out of ten they try to install malware on your computer. The worst ones will even attempt to keep you prisoner by displaying a "are you sure you want to leave this page?" dialog box when you try to leave or by redirecting you in such a way that backing up a page will send you back to the same page continously unless you spam the Back button or Backspace key or use the page history dropdown.
  • There's a growing trend among seedier ad purchasers to spit out pop-up ads screaming about how your Flash Player, or computer drivers, or anything else are out of date and need to be updated. Naturally, clicking on the download link and running the executable it gives you will pump viruses into your computer instead of actually installing anything.
  • Some file hosting sites actively try to trick you into clicking on advertisements by plastering the download page with ads which have a large, bright button saying "download" and little else. You have to hunt for the actual download link for the hosted file, which is of course small and nondescript.
  • When you try to download files off of Mediafire, it will occasionally open up a blank tab and redirects the tab you've downloaded the file from to an advert page after you click on the download page, regardless if you have an adblocker or not. This advert page could be anything from Roblox to obviously fake "virus detected" or "update your extension" pages to pages that automatically try to download files to your computer, and while you can close out of them, sometimes it's not as easy as it seems with them begging you not to close the tab by putting pop-ups on the page it's on.note 
  • Whenever a full-screen ad appears on a smartphone, most people's reaction will be to try and close it. Some advertisers have exploited that by putting a fake close button that, when clicked under the assumption that it will close or collapse the ad, registers as having tapped the actual ad and opens the link to the site they want you to visit. If you know that people hate your ad, why bother putting it up? Some companies also put a prominent X in their logo for a similar effect, with the bonus of having a built-in excuse for being misleading.
  • Video ads on mobile devices. If North American cell phone companies weren't in love with data caps, this would be a minor annoyance (and still is when Wi-fi is in use), but when that video chomps up 10-20 MB in your 2 GB-per-month allotment, it gets old real fast. Also if you're listening to music or a podcast while browsing on your phone, the video will interrupt whatever you're listening to, forcing you to close the page.
  • Ads that claim that someone made millions through doing something arbitrary. Usually, these ads crop up when you're attempting to download a file (and mess with the download itself) or appear in comments sections. They're as fake as a knockoff Chinese watch, and only serve to scam or infect the average internet user.
  • Adverts that show a random person supposedly saying something to the tune of "I TRIED THIS NEW MEDICINE AND I GOT RRRRRRRRRRRIPPPPPPPEDDDD!" are a one-stop shop for scams and spamming.
  • The mobile version of This Very Wiki has problems with web ads. Some of the worse examples:
    • Oftentimes, an ad will pop-up on the bottom of the screen, and more often than not, clicking the "x" on the ad will simply force the browser to the top of the page, possibly to force you to click ads. On older versions of the Google Chrome app, some ads would forcibly open the App Store to get you to download a useless app, though newer versions of the Chrome app now give you the option to disallow this, as the page will now produce a dialog that says "This page will open in another app." Simply clicking cancel will stop this. But seriously, all these issues can make viewing the mobile version of TV Tropes an absolute chore, though using the Chrome app as opposed to Safari makes things a little better. And we mean a little.
    • It got worse in 2018. On both the mobile and desktop websites, the site seems to be affected by some sort of adware that forcibly redirects you to another page that is often either trying to scam you or get you to download a virus. Or both. In addition to that, there now also exist ads that auto-play video, and these ads force the webpage to scroll to it to force you to watch it.
  • Any snail-mail spam sent in an envelope deliberately designed to resemble envelopes used for official government documents. Depending on the local laws and the degree of resemblance, this may not even be legal, but in some regions of the US it's both legally grey and a fairly popular tactic. Additional shame goes to those who disguise the contents as an official government document as well. Consumer Reports occasionally wall-of-shames these in their back-page feature "Selling It" between humorous typos and absurdly spacious packaging. Joel Spolsky has a blog article entitled "How Many Lies Can You Find In One Direct Mail Piece?" that details a particularly good example of snail-mail spam meant to resemble an important-looking FedEx package.
  • Some telephone companies, particularly Comcast/DirecTV, have started disguising their advertisement mail imploring you to switch as important messages or offers from your current phone and internet provider. They particularly like to do this in areas where rival companies AT&T and Verizon dominate. Consumer Reports has several examples of this, and other, underhanded Comcast ad tactics under their "Comcastic" tag. The worst part is, this might not even be legal in some places, and is dubiously grey in others.
  • "Robocalls", telemarketing messages that play a pre-recorded message to a bunch of phones at once by using a mass autodialer. Before, it was always possible to tell a human telemarketer "I'm not interested. Don't call this number again." Now these calls are computerized so there is no person to hear you yell "Please quit calling this number!" This is only a minor annoyance on a household landline, but it is a big annoyance on a cell phone, with it eating at your data cap and all, and a major cause of concern for businesses because the calls can tie up their lines and prevent business from occurring.
    These numbers have been plaguing US citizens more and more in recent years, to the point where the US government made it a felony to advertise over the phone via pre-recorded message without written consent, or if you are a church, charity, or political cause. ISP- and cell phone-blocking software are ineffective because these calls spoof the information on the caller ID and call from a different number every time. The worst is calling from a blocked or hidden number, or spoofing the number so it appears as "911" or something else important.
    Some particularly infamous examples:
    • The New '10s have seen the increasing prevalence of robocalls programmed to make you initially mistake them for actual people calling by using voice recognition. Usually, they begin with something along the lines of "Is this the home of [insert name here]?", and when the person receiving the call responds, the robocall is programmed to proceed with its advertising spiel in response. The robocall may even ask something like "Is anyone there?" in response to silence in order to make them seem more like people being ignored. What makes these particularly terrible is that they not only have the annoyances of standard robocalls, but they actually fail at even robocall standards thanks to the new features. If you do manage to send the call to someone willing to listen to whole robocalls, then the voice activation will just confuse and annoy them. Yet the effort to get everyone else to continue listening fails once they realize it's automated, meaning the effort the robocall programmers put into including the voice recognition feature is completely pointless.
    • One particular robocall that's been making the rounds is a scam call stating that the IRS is suing you and that you need to call back to resolve the issue. While the call seems convincing enough, it not only makes this list for being a blatant scam, but also for the fact that the IRS only contacts people through written letters, rendering the whole attempt futile.
  • Fax machines might be a bit old-fashioned these days, but they're not completely obsolete, and a number of people like to send adverts to them. Does anyone appreciate having their paper wasted like this? This is a very special sort of bad ad, as it may be the only form of advertisement that, by consuming paper and ink, costs the viewer money.
  • Radio ads that utilize car horns, tire screeches, ambulance sirens, or other loud noises, especially for listeners who commute to work. These are the kinds that are startling at best, and accident-causing at worst, as they could be confused for real sounds. Curb Your Enthusiasm shows why this can be a problem, using the long-time transmission repair franchise AAMCO as an example.
  • WhatsApp is the most-used SMS-replacement / IM / chat service used worldwide (outside of the U.S.). Lots of ads appear on mobile phone web pages by scammers (not associated with the real app), that mimick an iOS / Android OS pop-up, saying "Your WhatsApp version is outdated which puts your security at risk; update it now to protect yourself." Clicking on any of those links will subscribe you to a costly SMS-subscription that's almost impossible to get rid of. PSA: Like any other proper Google-approved / Apple-approved app, it's only updated through the Play Store / App Store; keep strictly to [your OS] Store for updating your Apps.
  • Any website that advertises itself by posting comments on unrelated websites can immediately be assumed to be shady, untrustworthy, and a ploy to steal your personal information and/or install malware on your device. Especially if they create or edit pages on TV Tropes itself to do so. Such comments are usually deleted quickly by the website's moderators, but some abandoned sites' forums and comments sections consist almost entirely of years and years of spam.
    If you're wondering why anybody would bother with spamming on abandoned websites that nobody will look at, it's because the more links there are to a webpage, the higher it appears in search engine results, so even if nobody clicks on their links, the spammed site will still be easier to find.
  • A very common type of advertisement for shady computer repair software has been showing up where if you do a Google search for any kind of computer issue, no matter how specific or general, it gives a page seeming to teach about how to fix the problem only to instruct you on how to use their software.
    • To avoid those kind of scams, it is usually advised to put computer issue while adding sites like stackexchange or tomshardware (forum) which point you to the forums that most of the time will help you fix the issue.
  • There's plenty of ads for apps which are poorly made, but some just take the cake in how much effort the creators put in them. Simply put, there are ads that decide to downright steal others' content — with Minecraft bootlegs as an example, containing three instances of this. At one point, there's a clip of a YouTuber playing a Granny map, several "gameplay videos" for "free mobile versions" (despite being played on the PC one), and regarding a latest victim of this, the trailer for the 1.14 update (Village & Pillage). The worst part? Footage theft is still rampant.

    Web Ads 

  • The YouTube Bic Shavers (all links now gone) ads featured men doing things of varying "piggishness" to attractive women and then being "magically cured of their piggishness" by a weird mind-blowingly obnoxious Mary Poppins ripoff who uses Bic Shavers and a magical wardrobe change to turn them into "proper gentlemen". They were not received well. Most comments were either objections to the notion that you can't be a proper gentleman, or in fact anything but a "pig", if you have facial hair, or objections to the misandry rampant in the videos.
  • A certain ad for the website consulting.com, featuring a guy with an annoying Australian accent just talking at the viewer for four minutes (we couldn't find the exact ad, but this is still four minutes). The product they're advertising may be complex and hard to explain, but they could at least try to either keep their ads short and to the point or give the viewer something more interesting to watch and listen to than a guy talking to a webcam.
  • To advertise Dream Corp LLC, [adult swim] made a series of YouTube adverts consisting solely of six seconds of a man dancing with a sign bearing the show's logo. The worst part, not only can you not skip them, but there isn't even a "Stop seeing this ad" option, meaning you can't bypass the lack of a "Skip this ad" button and stop seeing them for good.
  • Google's Know What's Nearby pre-roll ad campaign from late 2016 takes Totally Radical to heights not reached since Da Boom Crew. The ads consist of two-to-five second video loops with Google searches overlayed on top and a single sentence; for example, "When you find delicious ice cream nearby," in a style reminiscent of Tumblr posts. Now, this could have worked, had Google not chosen to use a trap remix of a high-pitched man screaming loudly as the background music. This, coupled with the fact that the ads were so common when they were shown, led to people mocking and parodying the ads, to the point that Google had to unlist the first of these ads on their YouTube channel due to the toxic reception.
  • In March 2018, the Kevin Klein Live show in San Diego's new 97.3 The Machine radio station promoted itself ahead of its premiere with a Twitter ad showing the Coronado Bridge, which has seen multiple suicides take place there, with the caption, "Jump", which caused controversy in San Diego. Along with other controversies, the station, the new home of the San Diego Padres, had to apologize to its viewers, and the Padres decided to evaluate their ties to the station before the season started, and one month into the station's existence. Eventually the show was cancelled before its premiere and the radio station was forced to rebrand due to the negative attention the next month.
  • In 2005, McDonald's launched an online viral campaign that was designed to promote the company's "Younger and Hipper" image. Using a series of banner images emblazoned with young people eating double cheeseburgers, the ads were meant to convey a more playful attitude (in tandem with the company's well-established "I'm lovin' it" campaign). Sounds good, but during the creation of this campaign the ad agency that oversaw it decided to run with the slogan "Double cheeseburger? I'd hit it. I'm a dollar menu guy." They didn't realize that "hit" is a common slang term for "have sex with". When the banners appeared on sites like ESPN, the public reaction was immediate and fierce. The banners were pulled after a firestorm of controversy and mocking from the public and various online advertising blogs, with McDonald's executives chalking up the failed campaign to not understanding what the term meant. The "I'd hit it" campaign is now a regular fixture on "worst marketing campaigns of all time" lists.
  • Miracle Mattress, a San Antonio-based mattress shop, posted an incredibly insensitive and unfunny ad in 2016 on their Facebook page. The ad had two men asking a woman about a "twin tower" sale. She then pushed the two men into stacks of mattresses, knocking them over while she screamed in mock terror, and then ended the commercial with "We'll never forget." This ad gained a ton of Internet Backdraft, resulting in the shop shutting down. The shop has since re-opened with new management, but it's unlikely they will ever recover from the reputation of the advert.
  • In August 2018, an ad for the horror film The Nun started appearing on YouTube. The ad consists of a fake iOS volume bar being lowered and mutednote , attempting to trick users into raising their real volumenote , followed by the movie's monster suddenly appearing and screaming loudly. Some people have had panic attacks or accidentally dropped and damaged their phones due to the shock, resulting in the ad getting taken down shortly after due to severe backlash, as well as the ad violating the site's shocking content policy for advertisers, as the ad was known to play before innocuous and unrelated videosnote . Watch it yourself here, but remember to lower the volume first. AniMat talks about the whole controversy here. Later YouTube ads actually worked this controversy to hype the movie, which may have been the intent from the start; they only show a picture of the nun, stating the original ads were pulled for being too scary, so the picture is all they can show. While a step up from the original irritating ad, many people still hated the smug undertones that made their former campaign sound more interesting than it really was.
  • The "alliwantforxmasisapsp.com" campaign for the PlayStation Portable was actually somewhat ahead of its time in terms of a viral marketing campaign... at least in concept. In execution, however, it actually amounted to one of the most embarrassing "rap" videos ever filmed, along with an accompanying website that tried so hard to shill the console (which was actually selling very well as it was) that it fooled absolutely nobody. Adding insult to injury, after they were widely called out on the campaign, Sony gave an "apology" in which they claimed they had been too clever for users to understand what they were trying to accomplish. If nothing else, the whole mess did set some clear boundaries as to what is or isn't widely considered acceptable in a viral advertising campaign, even if there are still plenty of companies who ignore said boundaries.
  • The "ads" for the anti-virus program Protegent. They are all poorly drawn and badly acted (all of the people in the commercials have very thick Indian accents, and mostly look very similar), and the design of Proto (the mascot) design is plagiarized from Whyatt from Super Why!. In addition, Protegent is notorious for being low-quality, so the ads shouldn't come off as surprising. The only good things to come out of these are the various memes. See all of the ads here.
  • The ads for hangover remedy Thor RX is aimed at college students, with the premise being that you can party and get drunk while still letting you ace an exam the next day. It's more well known for its horrible animation, especially with the character's arms. Even worse, the party scene is just a bizarre compilation of random tidbits loosely connected to each other, leaving the audience confused before the ad even finishes its pitch.
  • An ad for Vuse vape pens that ran on TV Tropes stands out as particularly horrible. It blacks out the entire page with a "rotate phone" warning. Rotating your phone will result in the ad taking up the entire page, on top of the now unreadable text.
  • British snack company Walkers launched an automated promotional campaign for the UEFA Champions League final with Gary Lineker by encouraging users to tweet selfies to their account with the #EngineeredHashtag #WalkersWave, wherein they would be congratulated by Lineker holding their photo and perform a wave. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Plenty, as how the Internet is prone to doing — users hijacked the campaign by tweeting images of such notorious individuals as serial killers Fred West and Harold Shipman (making the "Great shot!" which begins each tweet that much more inappropriate), and disgraced public figures Jimmy Savile and Chris Benoit, resulting in massive embarrassment. Within hours, Walkers wound up deleting the tweets, ending the campaign and issuing an apology. Lineker himself joked about the gaffe, saying that he "had an unusual day in some very strange company".
  • In 2001, a small wills-and-trusts website called Wills.com ran a banner ad that stated "Pray for the best, prepare for the worst." It showed a simplistic animation of an airplane crashing into the Twin Towers. The banner ad is long gone, but Vincent Flanders of Web Pages That Suck.com fame did a YouTube video about it. Nowadays, Wills.com now takes you to a blank page with black text simply saying "Wills.com".
  • ZoneAlarm Free Firewall launched a grossly-alarmist ad in 2010 for their paid antivirus suite, by sending a pop-up warning users of their free firewall that they may be in danger of attack from a Trojan horse (Zeus Botnet). Except this warning also appeared on computers that didn't have said virus, and the "solution" it presented was to buy the full software. The backlash was fierce, and ZoneAlarm users threatened to or did uninstall the product in retaliation. Let this be a warning that letting the marketing department issue false security warnings may not be a good idea; it didn't help that the warning dialog resembled a "rogue security software" scam.

    Trailers 
  • While the reaction to High Guardian Spice was divisive to say the least, the announcement trailer is widely agreed to have been the worst way Crunchyroll could've handled it. At 1:30, the trailer features little more than extremely vague and non-specific details about the show itself and unfinished concept art, and instead is mostly focused on the staff talking about their feelings on the production and talking about the "diverse" nature of the series and staff while largely showing only white women. While the video itself could have worked as a behind-the-scenes feature or even a Kickstarter pitch, what it certainly didn't work as is an announcement trailer, as all it did was taint the public's perception of the show as being more concerned with appearing progressive than actually making an entertaining work of fiction. The Mysterious Mr. Enter goes into more detail on the matter here, along with Digibro here.
  • The notorious "Masterclass" trailer for Mighty No. 9 seemingly attempts to invoke nostalgia for The '90s, but ends up recalling some of the worst "X-Treme!!" ad campaigns from that decade. The trailer relies on an unfunny, neurotic narrator to show off game mechanics rather than letting it speak for itself, and at one point insults a good deal of the game's demographic by mentioning "[making] the bad guys cry like an anime fan on prom night"note , which is a juvenile insult to begin with. The video also prominently displays terribly rendered explosions that several people compared to badly-made pizza, and as a whole feels rushed. After being posted on YouTube by publishers Deep Silver, it was roundly mocked by the gaming press and community alike, with a large amount of dislikes and even garnering ire from developer Inti Creates CEO Takaya Aizu, and wound up being another nail in the coffin for what had already become an Acceptable Target at that point.
  • The preview for Sam & Max Hit the Road that was included on the Star Wars: Rebel Assault disc is plain horrid. The narrator sounds like he's bored out of his mind and just reading his lines off a sheet of paper with no enthusiasm, the voice recording is of poor quality (normally, voice recordings in LucasArts games were of high quality even in DOS games), and the preview doesn't tell you anything about the game. It shows random out-of-context clips, with very vague descriptions like "Highway Adventure Game". And for reasons unknown, when the LucasArts logo appears, creepy, futuristic music starts playing that doesn't fit the game's mood whatsoever.
  • The 2017 trailer for Timesplitters Rewind is probably the most lazy, bare-bones, zero-effort preview to have ever existed. Even ignoring how its claimed release date turned out to be a lie, it consists entirely of time crystals with images of past characters in them. The images are blurry and nearly impossible to make out, meaning most viewers saw nothing but two minutes of featureless green rocks. Given the game had been announced five years prior with absolutely no footage being shown since, the fans were understandably pissed. The developers apologized for the shitty trailer mere days afterwards, but wouldn't release a real preview until March of 2019.
  • Titans, the flagship series of DC's streaming service launched in 2018, has been very well-received among both critics and the fans who watched it. Unfortunately, there are probably quite a bit fewer of the latter thanks to the first teaser trailer for the series, which was roundly lambasted for selling the show as a ridiculously over the top Darker and Edgier take on the characters, the prime offender being a scene where thanks to some terrible editing Dick Grayson appears to crush a bad guy's neck, shoot the rest In the Back as they're running away, and then growl "Fuck Batman!" out of nowherenote . Several crew members quickly went out to do damage control, assuring the fans that the ad didn't properly represent the show and it wasn't just a constantly grim slog of performative edginess. Why DC felt the need to market a perfectly good show as pointlessly grimdark "ow the edge" nonsense — falsely, no less — is a Riddle for the Ages, especially when the DC Extended Universe's years-long false start had been partially attributable to the needless grimdark aspects. The following ads were much better and showed off the lighter side of the show, but for many, their first impression was impossible to overcome, especially since watching the show meant signing up for another streaming service right at the point where they’d started to become so numerous that most people were having to seriously pick and choose which ones were worth the money. As for its prospects outside the United States, let's just say DC are probably thanking God Netflix is willing to export shows from rival streaming services where they're not available, meaning the out-of-touch idiot their marketing department probably demoted or fired hasn't completely screwed the show over. ProZD parodies it here.
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    Commercials 
In order by product name, company name, or other type of name:
  • This German video for the 2013 election cycle was actually pulled before it was even aired, though if it was because of its quality or for implying to not vote for the big parties remains to be seen. Either way, it displays embarrassing stereotypes of both teenagers and old people trying to be "hip", which backfires on both fronts.
  • Above the Influence were no stranger to courting criticism for their narmy PSAs, but even their defenders considered "Sick" a major misstep. The commercial depicts a presumably drunk girl stumbling into a bathroom and then vomiting into a toilet, which we hear in all its glory. The camera pans into the toilet several times to show her "vomit" is actually important things from her life, including family pictures and trophies. An interesting concept in theory, but it was executed in a way that people describe to be clumsy and disgusting. Especially since it often aired on television and before YouTube videos often while people would be eating or relaxing. The complaints that surged online and were posted to Above the Influence's Facebook page lead to the ad not only being eventually pulled from TV, but virtually wiped from the internet altogether. While the ad drew numerous complaints online during its run, pretty much no info about it can be found online anymore, and the only copy available is a parodic edit that overlays poop sounds over the puking and plays a very loud version of "California Love" near the end. However, if this archive of the organization's taken-down upload of it is anything to go by, chances are the reception to it may have had a hand in that. This ad effectively killed the campaign, as this was one of the organization's last TV ads; they eventually dialed back their efforts to schools and the internet instead before being absorbed into Partnership for Drug-Free Kids two years later after "Sick"'s release.
  • The American Forces Network (AFN), unlike commercially-owned television and radio stations, is funded by the U.S. government and doesn't need to air commercials to raise revenue. To keep shows on a regular schedule, AFN replaces commercials with public service announcements, often made in-theater and sometimes by the local affiliate. This has led to poorly-written PSAs with little to no production value, no appeal to their audience, and messages which accidentally wind up the opposite of their intent.
  • The marketing campaign for the Atari Jaguar was a humongous misstep, in part responsible for the death of the Jaguar and its impact on US console development.
    • Its regular ads featured annoying (e.g. shrill and condescending, rambling and overly made-up) narrators, grossout "humor", religious harassment, Blatant Lies regarding the console's technical specs note , arrogant slogans that channeled the Console Wars of the era, and a general lack of gameplay footage to offer. It's thought to have contributed to the console's catastrophic launch and eventual failure.
    • On top of this, there was a half-hour infomercial produced which hammers in the "Do the Math" slogan and repeatedly portrays ownership of a 16-bit console as uncool. Bear in mind that at this point, the initial wave of popularity Sega had made with their Genesis was starting to settle down, and Nintendo had a firm hold in the market. Sega had learned that attempting to insult their business rival didn't work as well as they thought, but managed to pull ahead and compete just fine. Atari, on the other hand, decided to double down on the insults, which especially looked bad given the Jaguar's poor performance and game lineup compared to the 16-bit systems it deemed "uncool".
    • Following the last in a series of massive price drops, Atari made a two-page magazine ad that, on top of hinging on the aforementioned Blatant Lies, told buyers of rivaling consoles to "take two smart pills and call us in the morning" for not having bought a Jaguar.
  • The earlier commercials for the down-on-your-luck tax service BlueTax were among the worst aired on cable news channels. Start with our spokesman, "Max from BlueTax", who comes off as either very creepy due to the entire advert's terrible CGI (his hair was bitmapped) or as obnoxiousness incarnate for his grating voice and inability to shut up for half a second. The public domain chalkboard fonts, toll-free number spiels said by Max using individual voice clips (much like an automated phone call) were obvious, as a final insult Max closed the ad with a shout that just drove home how unlikable and/or creepy he was. The company's since begun kicking itself hard over them, with Max responding positively in-character to a Most Irritating Animated Actor nomination, and more recent ad campaigns loaded with Self-Deprecation.
  • Burger King has a few advertising mishaps to its name:
    • The notorious "Where's Herb?" ads from 1985-86. The gimmick was that Herb was a man who had never eaten a Whopper in his life, and customers were to be on the lookout for Herb at their local Burger King for a chance to win $5,000. In addition, customers could get Whoppers for 99 cents if they told the cashier "I'm not Herb." (or if they were named Herb, that "I'm not the Herb you're looking for."). After initial mass confusion caused by people not being given any hints as to what Herb looked like, he was revealed at a Super Bowl game in January 1986... at which point most people didn't care anymore and those few who did were insulted (especially if they really had never eaten a Whopper or were named Herb) when Herb turned out to be a dorky-looking schlub. Not helping was a controversy stemming from the fact that a 15-year-old boy spotted Herb at a Burger King in Alabama, but as he was underage the prize had to go to a friend of his who was in the restaurant at the same time, which in turn led to the Alabama state senate declaring consumer fraud. The campaign lasted only three months, and Burger King's profits plummeted by 40% as a result. note . What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events In Television History lists this campaign at #42.
    • On April 12th, 2017, Burger King ran this commercial designed to activate the viewer's Google Home device and look up their Whopper on Wikipedia and repeat the description back to the user. While the idea itself is questionable, the internet, being the internet, took to vandalizing the Whopper's Wikipedia article, inserting the description for the candy of the same name at best and editing the description to state that the burger caused cancer and contained rat meat, cyanide, and children at worst. It is even suspected that Burger King themselves edited the article to tie in with the commercial, changing the article to call the Whopper "America's favorite burger" and thus violating Wikipedia's policy on promotion — indeed, the page history shows one edit was made by a user named "Burger King Corporation". Wikipedia was forced to lock the Whopper's page to prevent further vandalism, and the ad itself was criticized for being intrusive and for setting a dangerous precedence for other ads to trigger viewers' smarthome devices without permission. Google quickly caught wind of the ad and made sure that the commercial didn't trigger Google Home's voice detection, defeating the ad. If you want to hear what the page sounded like at its worst, Business Insider made a video about the ad featuring footage of a Google Home reading it.
  • CNN received a fresh new face in 2002 with former Fox News reporter Paula Zahn, who was given her own morning show. And the commercial they put out for it was a shamelessly lascivious monstrosity calling her "provocative, super smart, and just a little sexy" with the last word freezing on the screen over her lips along with a Record Needle Scratch (although it's easy to mistake it for the sound of a fly being unzipped due to the context). It only took a single weekend for the ad to be pulled in the face of massive outrage, and countless potshots from late night hosts followed. Though it can certainly be argued it technically did its job very well by greatly increasing attention on Zahn, it remains a big stain in the network's history, and is listed as #5 in What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events In Television History
  • David Carlson (the politician) launched an attack ad on Kurt Bills during the 2012 race for Minnesota's senate. Instead of attacking Bills' stance on important issues, it borders on slander and complains about Kurt Bills being "unelectable" just because he's a supporter of Congressman Ron Paul, claiming with exaggerated points that America would become a dystopia if Bills won. The ad also uses gratuitous amounts of Godwin's Law to make a point on why Bills shouldn't be a senator. As a result, it's one of the most disliked political ads of the 2012 election season on YouTube and, unsurprisingly, Carlson lost.
  • Pete Hoekstra's infamous Debbie Spend IT Now ad, made for his campaign in 2011. It blamed Michigan senator Debbie Stabenow for every single American job outsourced to China. It featured some of the most outright racist depictions of the Chinese in this day and age, from its setting (a rice paddy) to its scriptwriting (broken English in a thick, generic Asian accent). The campaigners also built a website around it, one even more offensive than the TV ads — among other things, the coding describes their mascot as "yellowgirl" (apparently, a third party made that mistake, referring to her shirt) After two weeks, the actress apologized for her role in the ad and on Election Day, Hoekstra lost the election by a 20% margin to Stabenow. Furthermore, it was aired during the Super Bowl in the state of Michigan, which meant that it eventually aired nationally when the news did their "what unique local ads aired during the Super Bowl" rundowns. Watch it here, if you dare.
  • Dicks Against a Sexist Dick, organized by gay rights site FCKH8 and Feminist gift site Pussy Scouts, is an overly gimmicky and biased anti-Donald Trump ad that not even his detractors could get behind. Despite all the beefcake, the ad is outright uncomfortable, with lines that border on libel (e.g conflating a belief that abortion should be outlawed with active attempts to halt it, up to and including court-packing), constant Bottom of the Barrel Jokes, even more Painful Rhymes, and outright hypocritical remarks. For one, they complain about discrepancies in pay while destroying currency on-screen—this is illegal in the US, by the waynote — and complain about the sexual objectification of women in an ad that revolved entirely around the sexual objectification of men. The video sets both the gay rights and womens' rights movements back by about 80 years, and not even other feminist organizations can get behind it. It couldn't have come at a worse time, either—Pussy Scouts was still under fire for putting a feminist symbol 'pussyhat' on a statue of Harriet Tubman as a marketing ploy.
  • In the UK, Diet Coke hired Welsh singer Duffy to make a commercial launching their new (and meaningless) advertising slogan "Hello You". The ad showed her stealing a bicycle and riding through town (including right through a supermarket) to get to her concert, minutes away, all the while singing an extremely off-key version of an old Sammy Davis Jr. song. The campaign was intended to make Duffy the face of Diet Coke throughout the "Hello You" campaign, but negative audience reception led to the whole thing being scrapped. Advertising standards then had to investigate complaints that the ad encouraged dangerous behaviour by showing her riding a bike at night with no helmet, lights, or reflectors.
  • DirecTV released a series of ads where they used scenes from movies with the actors reprising their roles with new dialogue to talk about the product. While an interesting concept with (mostly) innocuous content, like with Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future ([1]) or Sigourney Weaver in Aliens ([2]), two of these commercials that fell into this category used footage from Tommy Boy ([3]) and Poltergeist ([4]) starring the deceased Chris Farley and Heather O'Rourke, the latter of whom died in childhood. There was massive backlash for the company exploiting dead celebrities to sell their product and it was quickly ended. note Robot Chicken went straight for the jugular when parodying the commercials by setting their sketch in Million Dollar Baby...specifically, the Downer Ending where Frankie helps Maggie commit suicide.
  • Dwight the Knight (not to be confused with Mike the Knight), a tax relief agency. For some inexplicable reason, Dwight's voice in this minute-long ad is pitched up, so he sounds like a heroic chipmunk with a voice that quickly grates on the eardrums. Then add in the "animation", where the CGI Dwight looks completely stiff and unblinking, and does nothing but vaguely flail his arms back and forth. On the bright side, they learned from their mistakes, as the 2017 version of the ad is narrated by a normal-voiced human and the creepy CGI Dwight only makes a brief appearance near the end.
  • FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft) put an anti-piracy ad on some DVDs and VHS tapes that implied piracy was funding terrorism. Apparently, if you pirate a DVD then you're indirectly responsible for 9/11. You couldn't skip this thing, and it insinuates that the people watching it are filthy low-down criminal scum, even though if you were watching the ad, then you must have actually paid for the DVD because the anti-piracy ad would be the first thing pirates would strip off for their counterfeit versions. It also appeared on some child-friendly videos, terrifying several children with its dark and ominous tone.
  • Most of the ads for Farmers Only, a dating website geared toward people in rural areas, are decent or at least good for Narm Charm. The site's Horsing Around ad, however, doesn't even have that going for it. Instead it gives us obvious and badly done greenscreen, awful voice acting, a badly sung jingle at the end, and the two horses cancelling their owner's date for no reason other than to be dicks. Small wonder the company has disabled comments on the video...
  • This ad for Finally Fast (the product's original name). Among other things, it shows a Windows Blue Screen of Death superimposed onto the screen of an Apple iBook (a pre-x86 Mac), a Firefox "can't find the page" warning in Internet Explorer, and countless other baffling errors. There's also the "music" (a generic looping techno beat they probably got from some public-domain music library), the Narmy bad acting of the man at the end, and the whiny teenager complaining about how a bad connection was slowing down his local computer game. You know something's very wrong when the PS2 controller he was playing it with is the least inaccurate aspect of the commercial.
  • The launch ad for the Tiger Electronics Game.com falls into many of the traps the Jaguar campaign did, down to ridiculous mascots note , arrogant posturing, and insulting its own demographic's intelligence, with the slogan "It plays more games than you idiots have brain cells!" note  The ad also features several legitimate questions that potential buyers might be asking themselves, such as "What games is it compatible with?" and "How much does it cost?", and dismisses them by having the spokesman yell "MORONS!" in lieu of a real answer.
  • This infamous ad for the GM EV1 sells electric cars via creepy music, ominous shadows (namely, disembodied silhouettes of people that have given many viewers the impression that a nuclear explosion has left outlines of their now-disintegrated bodies on the pavement), and narration that mostly points up the car as unnatural. It failed so miserably, there have been accusations of deliberate sabotage.
  • The Philippine chocolate bar Goya ran an ad in 2018 that can be considered the worst ad out of all the ads on this page. It consists of a still image of the chocolate bar with the caption, "Have you tried the No. 1 Chocolate Bar in the Philippines?" What makes this ad so bad is its audio, a headache inducing SMPTE tone. Even worse, the tone suddenly gets louder at the last second as the image cuts to a "Please Stand By" message. It's caused the company to receive plenty of negative comments on their Facebook page.
  • Canadians are usually tolerant of poor advertising... when it's worth the point-and-laugh. Such is the key failing of this wonderful spot from Grey Power, a discounted car insurance provider for drivers over 50. What makes it so horrible? It was utterly obnoxious, with the unfortunate implication that all middle-aged drivers act like 12-year-olds off their Ritalin, and it was long enough (more than a minute) to run its one major gimmick into the ground many times over, but not short enough that it couldn't be (and it often was) used to hide technical problems. One of the actresses has announced outright that she's ashamed of her appearance in the advert. Mercilessly parodied in this skit from The Rick Mercer Report.
  • Groupon had a series of adverts that started off as celebrity PSAs for dire global situations, such as the tenuous relations between China and Tibet or the deforestation of the Amazon, before lapsing into extolling the tangentially related (at best) glory of their product. In short, they trivialized serious issues with global repercussions just to sell an item, hiring celebrities to join in, no less. There was a major backlash from viewers and Groupon customers over this thing. Brilliantly parodied by Conan O'Brien here.
  • This abysmal Health Hotline commercial for knee braces. The ad itself is mostly just mind-numbingly boring, but the animation is what makes it horrible: it's almost entirely made up of totally static stock clip art with barely-animated mouths flapping randomly as the characters speak in bored monotones against a blank white background. Additionally, the clip art isn't even consistent, as the grandma character had her model switched at the end to an old lady that barely even looks like her. For some odd reason, they made a second version of this commercial that is literally identical except the girl and her grandma are black. Even their dialogue uses the exact same audio, so it's not even like they're different characters. Svengoolie, of all people, mocked this ad on the April 23, 2016 episode of his show.
  • Hearthstone has a very good track record with its ads, with many possessing the same sense of charm and fun of the game itself, but the same cannot be said for the Take this Inside commercial. It features poor acting, nonsensical dialogue and presentation, a flimsy connection to Hearthstone itself, and an extremely forced tagline. Even the deliberately crappy costumes come off as more lazy than charming, which is not helped by the fact that Blizzard has proven that they can make genuinely good costumes. It didn't take long for the fanbase to tear it apart for being an awkward piece of junk, and Blizzard themselves abandoned it fairly quickly.
  • A group of ads for Hot Pockets (thankfully long gone) depicted people eating a Hot Pocket on the street and being subjected to the same kinds of discrimination and abuse that American minorities suffered prior to and during the Civil Rights Movement — all because they were eating the advertised product without a plate. We'll give you a moment to ponder why that didn't sit well with anybody.
  • The infamous I Am Autism commercial from Autism Speaks was an homage to the 1948 "Taming the Crippler" Public Service Announcement, which was about polio. Aside from the fact that it grossly misrepresents this neurological disorder (as most of the company's promotional material does), treating it like an actual deadly disease along the lines of AIDS or cancer, it barely gives any information as to what autism actually is. Instead, it just makes it sound as if it completely reduces a child to nothing more than a source of strife and misery until people "valiantly" promise to fight against it. It's also accompanied by unrelated home videos of kids, as if they could potentially be "blighted" by autism, none of which fit the ominous tone of the message. The ad was pulled due to the intense backlash, but a transcript can be read here, and you can watch it here if you dare. The Mysterious Mr. Enter (himself having Asperger's Syndrome) criticizes the ad point by point in essay and video form.
  • In 1999, the fast-growing shoe retailer Just for Feet decided to create an utterly racist commercial for the Super Bowl in lieu of a contest where one lucky person who called in during the third quarter during the ad could win a Hummer. The ad depicted a group of white men in a Humvee hunting down a barefoot black runner in the Kenyan savanna, then giving him a cup of drugged water, and forcibly putting sneakers on him while he is unconsciousnote , followed by him waking up and screaming as he tries to get them off. Needless to say, it launched a major controversy, and was so bad that the company sued their ad agency for showing the ad at the Super Bowl and insisting that it would have a positive reception among the public. The ad wound up showing during the fourth quarter, and the website and contest hotline weren't updated to deal with this fact. It led to the company becoming a pariah, despite having a great concept for their stores, and a year later they filed for bankruptcy and were bought out by the now-defunct Footstar. It landed the number 1 spot on Cracked's 2014 article "The 5 Most Disastrous Marketing Failures of All Time", describing it as "creepy", "racist", and "insulting towards its own product".
  • If you live in one of a handful of major cities in the United States, chances are you've heard the Kars-4-Kids ad on the radio at least once, which is one time too many. The incredibly grating jingle has two versions: one sung out of key by a child who sounds bored out of his skull and another with a child having an Auto-Tuned voice. The ads make no mention of the fact that the money is donated exclusively to yeshivas and Hasidic causes, understandably frustrating anyone who might need that money and either isn't Jewish or not of that denomination. On top of that, the video version of the ad (featuring precocious kids that seemingly were ripped out of a Life With Mikey-esque casting room miming instrument playing terribly) is played seemingly every inning during the local SNY broadcasts of Mets games and has as much hate by Mets fans as they have for the team's owner, Fred Wilpon. A rival car donation charity even used the widespread hatred of the jingle to advertise its own services (which was soon banned from Entercom owned stations).
    John Oliver: Shut up! Shut up! What is this charity? You're kids! You can't fucking drive! What money-laundering scheme are you operating?!
  • Life Alert's initial ad campaigns were deemed So Bad, It's Good, spawning a variety of jokes about their poor acting and overly silly natures. Worried that this silliness would cost them sales, the company released a new, Darker and Edgier advertisement simply titled "Basement" in 2014... which ended up backfiring and caused public outcry. The advertisement features an elderly woman who fell down the basement stairs feebly crying for help while children frolic outside, rendering it a disturbing experience to many. Several people decried it over its unnecessarily eerie and dark tone, with reports of panic attacks occurring to unsuspecting viewers with anxiety disorders flying about. In addition, Life Alert was also accused of preying on the elderly and those worried about their senior relatives using paranoia-based emotional blackmail. It’s a small wonder the ad was pulled only two months after its initial airing, quickly being replaced with still serious, but much more uplifting commercials. Grim commercials in the same vein still air as of 2018, but now have a Content Warning that the commercial is based off of 'real events' and viewers may be 'offended.'
  • Littlewoods' 2011 Christmas advert attempted to be charming and sweet, but ended up being remembered as one of the worst Christmas adverts ever made. In it, children in a school play sing an ill-conceived song about the one who brings the presents at Christmas time. No, not Father Christmas and his sack of toys, but Mum and her Littlewoods purchases. The ad received a huge backlash from outraged viewers, who accused Littlewoods of ruining the magic of Christmas, and that's without getting into the inherently cynical nature of replacing something so innocent with cold hard cash. The song is also horrendous, but the premise is misguided enough to render this beside the point. Ad Turds gives its take on it (and other Christmas commercials not horrible enough for this page) here, giving it a "Turd rating" of 245,835,585,299,001 out of 5.
  • Locker Room Meltdown is a failure on several levels. The ad shows a middle school coach scolding kids for not putting their dirty towels in the bin, and quickly getting exasperated. Eventually he freaks out, starts throwing balls in the bin, then climbs in himself. It culminates in the nonsense tagline "Don't have a meltdown. Have a Meltdowns." It's badly acted, badly narrated, and barely related to the product (Kraft Meltdowns, a short-lived line of microwavable nachos). The commercial is a spin-off of Principal Wilson's Meltdown, but completely misses the point of the original ad — including the person being calmed by a plate of Meltdowns, the entire reason for the scenario!
  • Miracle Whip had their "We Will Not Tone It Down" and "Don't Be So Mayo" ad campaigns. Marketing Miracle Whip as a wonderful condiment for Hipsters, playing an Animal Collective rip-off in the background, and attempting to play up the brand as a cool and revolutionary new flavor just didn't work, especially as the Straw Loser who doesn't eat Miracle Whip was the only unique-looking person in the commercial. Stephen Colbert ridiculed the campaign on his show, pointing out that preferring another spread over mayonnaise isn't rebellious or cool, and even made an equally absurd pro-mayo commercial to prove the point. Afterwards, Kraft decided to double down, buying ad time on Colbert's show to rerun their ads and creating this response to Colbert's attack, calling him "so mayo"; while possibly intended to show they were good sports and had a sense of humor about the "rivalry", it instead came off as needlessly whiny and defensive, and the original video (which had a ratio of 10/90-percent likes to dislikes) was deleted from the official Miracle Whip channel.
  • Nationwide Insurance's second contribution to the 2015 Super Bowl advertisement lineup was an ad that attempted to school parents about preventable home accidents, but ended up backfiring spectacularly. The advert starts off with whimsical Imagine Spots, as it shows a young boy lamenting about how he'll never learn to ride a bike, catch cooties, fly, or get married... not because he's intimidated, but because he died in an accident. The advertisement then follows this with a grim montage of an overflowed bathtub, some spilled cleaning supplies, and a fallen-over television. The ad was horribly tasteless in its execution, especially within the context of Super Bowl advertising (which is usually funny at best and uplifting at worst), and came under fire for using dead children to sell insurance. Added Fridge Horror when you consider that plenty of parents whose kids had really died must have been watching certainly did nothing at all to help (the implication that the boy — who looks to be about ten — died from either of those accidents shown, which are more like things a two-year-old would die from, doesn't help matters either). Within minutes of the ad's airing, it received tons of backlash on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, and many were quick to make its Mood Whiplash punchline into a meme (before the game was even over), as well as label it one of the worst advertisements ever. It was small wonder, then, that Nationwide was conspicuously absent from the Super Bowl ad lineup the following year.
  • The environmentalist short film No Pressure by 10:10 (directed by Richard Curtis, known for his work on Blackadder and Four Weddings and a Funeral ) is perhaps the most catastrophic failure in the history of "edgy" humor. It depicts several groups talking about ways to reduce carbon emission, with those who don't want to participate or are simply uncertain about the whole matter being told "That's okay — no pressure." or a variant thereof. The authority in the group pulls out or is given a small black box with a red button and presses it, blowing up those who opted out. This, and the compliants' reactions, are realistic and played completely straight; said authorities (and, in the next-to-last scene, the compliants as well) carry on as though they didn't just murder people (possibly because they didn't consider said people as actually being people). Worse is the ending — a voiceover by Gillian Anderson, who herself is blown up for believing the voiceover was her contribution to 10:10. It conveyed such a clear contempt for those who don't toe their line on climate change that, coupled with all of the above and the many similarities to a terrorist bombing, meant not even fellow environmentalist groups were willing to side with 10:10.
  • Ouya's "Sixty bucks for a game?" features a stereotypical pantsless gamer expressing his regret at having paid 60$ for a bad game by flooding his living room with vomit, ripping out his own spine, and beating himself with it. The ad hurls insults at consumers of rivaling media, yet has little to say about the console itself. Ouya called No True Scotsman on it, despite it having been featured on their official YouTube channel (before the negative reception had them set it to Private). The ill-fated ad that drove customers away, along with the fact that the console itself wasn't very good, are major reasons why the once highly-anticipated console wound up flopping badly.
  • Oven Pride: "So easy, a man can do it!" Absolutely abominable because, apart from the suggestion that a woman's place is in the kitchen because cleaning's far too complicated for men, it presents what has to be the world's most miserable married couple - she seems perpetually infuriated, while he seems to have had over half his cerebrum torn out. The man goes on to use said product with an inane, slack-jawed grin on his face. If the roles were switched here, this would've never made it to air... but despite all this, the annoying chuckle at the end still manages to be the worst part. Another product by the same company, this one for cleaning showers and baths, is also widely reviled for giving the same backhanded message.
  • In what seemed to be an attempt to connect with politically active millennials during a time of major protests against police brutality, Pepsi released an ill-thought-out ad featuring Kendall Jenner that showed her watching a crowd of protesters holding vague, nondescript signs like "Peace" and "Join the Conversation", and culminated with Jenner walking up to a riot cop and handing him a Pepsi as the protesters cheer her on. Pepsi pulled the ad after fierce Internet Backdraft, and released a public apology. The damage was done, though, as it was quickly spoofed by a Saturday Night Live skit, a play-by-play commentary on the ad by Stephen Colbert on his show, and an "alternate ending" (Kendall Jenner is replaced by a black woman; the cop offered the Pepsi coldly stares her down and then calls for backup) on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Pyrocynical also tears into the ad here.
  • The launch ads for the PlayStation 3 were a mess almost on-par with the Atari Jaguar's marketing. Sony evidently figured from the humongous success of the first two incarnations of the system the PS3 would easily sell itself, and thus they could afford to produce ads that were unique and eye-catching at the expense of actually saying anything about the system. The results, when they weren't just plain bizarre note , were often outright frighteningnote . Unfortunately for Sony, the PS3 launched at high prices with few games worth buying, and said ads didn't do much to persuade people why they should fork out the huge asking price for the system, doubtless contributing to its early struggles.
  • In 1993, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada note  ran an ad perceived to be mocking Liberal leader Jean Chrétien's facial deformity, caused by Bell's palsy. The backlash was immediate and furious, with the ad being pulled in 24 hours and then-Prime Minister Kim Campbell apologizing for it. Chrétien used the ad to his benefit, referencing his facial deformity and the bullying he had suffered in childhood because of it in speeches that moved the voting audience and caused support to swing to the Liberal party. Chrétien won the election in a landslide, and the Tories were decimated, losing all but two seats and, with it, official party status and all the benefits that come with it. Campbell, who lost her Vancouver riding, resigned soon after the election, to be replaced by future Quebec prime minister Jean Charest, who was in one of the two aforementioned seats. The Tories trundled on for ten years, utterly unelectable because of the "face ad" among other things, before merging with the Canadian Alliance to form the modern Conservative Party. Here is the ad in question, and here is a news report regarding the controversy.
  • The Quietus ads for tinnitus, which attempts to emulate it throughout the whole ad. Lord knows why — if you have tinnitus, you already know what the hell it sounds like; if you don't have it, you're not the one buying Quietus. It doesn't help that the product's name is a euphemism for suicide in Hamlet, and was the name of a suicide pill in Children of Men. Fortunately, it seems like the makers of the drug have learned from this blunder, and produced a later version of the ad that lacked that incessant noise altogether. Unsurprisingly, this version of the ad is more effective in getting its point across.
  • The Ram Trucks ad for Super Bowl LII which played a portion of a speech given by Martin Luther King Jr. exactly 50 years earlier. note  It was roundly condemned (including by King's own family) for offensively using the words of a highly beloved civil rights icon who was assassinated two months after he said them to sell some trucks that had nothing to do with anything he was saying, during a time when racial tensions were especially high and made it seem just plain irresponsible. And if that wasn't bad enough, it was quickly pointed out that in the very same speech King also spoke out against crass commercialization, even singling out the automotive industry in particular for the damage it was doing to society. Some even went so far as to dub in that part of the speech over the ad.
  • Many of the ads for RockAuto are often poorly animated (with faces taken straight out of the Uncanny Valley) with dialogue that sounds like it originated from a radio ad. Given the infamy of the business' delivery of cheaply-made auto parts, the quality shouldn't come off as surprising.
    • Their garage sale advert features a man whose car's window got skewed in an impossible way and having to sell his action figures and letting others rent out his dog just to pay for a replacement.
    • Another advert, in addition to having terrible animation (it features talking 3D animation heads, horribly drawn, whose jaws move like cows chewing cud whenever they speak) also tries to present your typical commercial auto parts store as bad because it does not comply to some pretty outlandish requests, such as a woman needing high-technology ceramic brake pads for her Toyota Prius or a Greaser getting angry at the store clerk for not having parts for a Ford car from 1949. It's like a shuttle bus company trying to badmouth the competition by saying they can't drive you to Fiji. It also features a ridiculously stereotypical Frenchman.
  • In 1987, British animal rights charity RSPCA put out an ad which simply focuses on a dog just sitting there for an unusually long time, with a creepy instrumental of "How Much is that Doggie in the Window" playing in the background, before a gun comes into frame pointed at its head (and the dog himself seems quite genuinely unnerved by this) and a narrator intones "Please give us a pound, or we'll have to pull the trigger." Even at a time before the Internet was around to make this kind of thing easier to express, there was so much outrage across the country after its initial airing that the ad was pulled immediately, and replaced by one without the gun and a child singing the song. As The Nostalgia Critic pointed out in his 2017 commercials review, the ad seems less like it's for any sort of charitable cause and more like they're holding the poor dog hostage until the viewer gives them money. About the only way to explain it is that it might have been a takeoff on this classic National Lampoon cover, but even if that's the case, the charity seems to have missed that the cover was a joke, from a magazine that was already well known as being all about comedy, and reusing the image for a serious purpose just makes it horribly disturbing.
  • Sales Genie released not one but two Super Bowl commercials in the late 2000s that were not only blatantly racist and out of the times, but also soul-suckingly humorless.
    • The first shows an Indian telemarketer using the service to improve sales. This would be funny, if it wasn't for A) him speaking with a stereotypical Indian accent; B) him having to feed a stereotypically large Indian family; and C) the ad insulting Americans who were losing their jobs to outsourcing offices in India and China at the time.
    • And if the first one wasn't bad enough, Sales Genie released another the following year, this time ripping on Chinese families by portraying them as fat panda bears who speak broken English in possibly one of the most stereotypical Chinese accents ever.
  • This is just one from a series of utterly bizarre ads by Southern Comfort for one of their new drinks. They're all totally nonsensical, involving people shouting "SHOTTASoCo" note  incessantly, and are animated atrociously, invoking Uncanny Valley every second and looking like something out of a half-assed Unity engine Steam game. It's hard to comprehend what anybody was thinking during the creation of these things.
  • Rick Perry's infamous Strong commercial is a rambling Author Tract regarding Barack Obama's supposed "War on Religion" and "knows there's something wrong when" his kids "can't pray in school and can't openly celebrate Christmas" (absolutely bogus claims in the overwhelmingly Christian nation that is the United States) and yet complains that gays can serve in the military at the same time. It may have been the reason his campaign ended as early as it did. Numerous parodies ensued, and many people noted that not only does the jacket Perry wears in the ad resemble the same jacket featured in Brokeback Mountain (which was about gay cowboys), but the music in the ad is suspiciously similar to that of "Appalachian Spring", originally composed by the late, liberal and openly-gay Aaron Copland.
  • The beyond awful 2011 "Hail to the V" commercials for Summer's Eve douche, featuring women's hands miming talking vaginas, insulting racial stereotypes, and the scorching tagline "show a little love for your vertical smile". The ads were quickly pulled. Watch them lampooned on The Colbert Report here.
  • Tetley Bitter beer's UK "You've got to hand it to them" ads were among many British commercials that attempted to appeal to the audience's sense of humour in 1989. Trouble is, they just weren't funny. Thankfully, they were dropped after just three ads.
    • The first involved a group of Tetley-drinking friends annoying the groundskeeper at a golf course. Later in the bar, he tells them he's responsible for the greens and one of the drinkers makes a lame pun about vegetables.
    • The second had a man trying to find the male sauna, but his friends in the sauna decide to scream like girls to make him think he chose the wrong one and ends up going into the women's sauna. Later at the pub, they reveal the joke and they all have a laugh.
    • The third was the worst of all. A Tetley drinker returns from a Florida holiday and gives his friend a workbench vice (aka vise). Why? Because his friend's favourite TV show is Miami Vice. Apart from being a lousy pun, it doesn't even make sense that anyone would want to put a heavy steel tool in their check-in baggage (imagine the surcharge) just for the sake of a lame gag.
  • Toyota CH-R teamed up with Bad Lip Reading for some millennial-targeted Gag Dubs of their commercials. "Ghost School" (the second ad shown in this compilation), in particular, received plenty of airtime in Summer 2017. Unfortunately, the un-dubbed version of this commercial hasn't played as often, if it even exists. Without any concrete confirmation of BLR changing the audio, this ad loses an essential part of their videos' appeal - the humor arising from famous people delivering dialogue and songs that the average viewers wouldn't expect. Instead, it just has a garishly made-up lady spouting complete nonsense, and leaving practically no time for Toyota to show off the car.
  • During the extremely contentious 2016 Presidential Election one thing that all sides definitely agreed on was that the anti-Trump ad "Tuck Frump" was a perfect representation of the worst of Trump's opposition. Beginning with a very young girl imploring Trump to "shut the fuck up", the ad proceeds to blast Trump for making statements that could be interpreted as personal attacks... while making plenty of personal attacks against him. Some of the things that the ad claims Trump to have said are blatantly fabricatednote , and numerous response videos have been made to debunk the fallacious claims. The ad on YouTube has about 2,000 likes and about 108,000 dislikes as of May 2019 (less than 1,000 likes and about 65,000 dislikes as of October 2016, for perspective) and the comments (which cannot be viewed as the comment section was eventually disabled) were almost unanimously negative, with even people who don't like Donald Trump expressing dislike for the ad.
  • The notorious 2012 ad for Canadian beer Uptown Girl is one of the most complained-about and ridiculed commercials this side of Grey Power. The commercial is horribly obviously low-budget — there's two pieces of narration throughout (the sole difference between them being the presence of a cringe-worthy tagline), and extremely boring techno music accompanies rather creepy shots of girls dancing in slow-motion (with emphasis on boobs), and shots of condensation- and handprint-covered beer bottles. The ads were pulled after a month and it still is routinely recognized as one of the worst Canadian commercials of all time.
  • This ad for a bathroom service named Walk-in-Tubs is of a very low quality. The music is just a looping generic theme from a stock music site, the audio quality (especially when S. Ward gives her opinions, it's very hard to tell what she's saying even at maximum volume) is laughably horrible, and the stock effects and sound are extremely cheap and low budget. And the number at the bottom changes every time the ad is shown. note  A 30-second version was also made, with bad acting and all of the problems of the full version.
  • Wendy's once came out with an ad about their new chicken sandwich and showing everyone's reaction to how good it is. The problem? The "reactors" are incredibly exaggerated caricatures of people on the internet. For example, the "memer" says "Eats Spicy Goodness LIKE A BOSS" (and yes, the Impact font is actually present) and the "selfiers" being obnoxious valley girls who can't resist taking a selfie of their selfie. But what really pushes this ad into Horrible territory is the last part where they feature the "behind-the-timeser" who uses incredibly outdated slang, which shows that the makers of this ad have no self-awareness about how much they're pandering and how hypocritical they're being.
  • Nintendo's Wii U is one of their least successful consoles, and part of it was due to their marketing campaign on how the system was being presented. The commercials often focus too much on GamePad rather than the system itself, and combined with the similar name and logo, made people assume the Wii U was just an add-on or peripheral to the Wii. The original E3 reveal mostly showed New Super Mario Bros. U, Wii Sports U, and Wii Fit U, all of which could be confused as HD ports or the originals. While the backlash of the reveal did spawn the much loved Nintendo Direct, Nintendo didn't put their commercials on TV and made it mostly exclusive to online instead. Even when the ads are on, they often feature bad writing and acting. This video showcases some of them, and the first one refers to the system as an upgrade rather than a whole new console, adding more to the confusion. A discussion video in a five-part series about the system explaining what went wrong in the advertising. Thankfully, Nintendo learned from their mistakes, as seen with the Nintendo Switch's reveal trailer. It was made it clear within the first thirty seconds that it was advertising a hybrid home/portable console, as well as some games either being ports or sequels.
  • The notorious You Wouldn't Steal a Car spot has been used in many DVDs. The commercial compares stealing several items to stealing movies on the Internet, a comparison which is the exact opposite of what anti-piracy lawyers are trying to get the juries to think. You also couldn't skip the ad, making it even more annoying and patronising. But what makes it truly horrible is the hypocrisy on display - while trying to say "Hey, piracy is stealing, thus it's bad.", it used music without the original artist's permission. To compound this even further, said music is Suspiciously Similar to "No Man Army" by The Prodigy. Watch "Commercials I Hate" tear it to shreds here. It was also spoofed by BBC Radio 6 Music's Adam & Joe in the "Song Wars" segment, with a song entitled "The Mind of a Pirate". The IT Crowd also parodied the absurdity of the ads here.

    Other Ad Forms 
  • To promote Virus: The Game, some marketing group had the not-so-smart idea of creating a scareware called "Russ", which imitates your computer being affected by a file-deleting virus. By the time you're probably in full chaos/panic mode, the ad says "Thank god this is only a game." and shills the product. While this would be a neat idea since the concept of Virus: The Game takes advantage of your files (without doing any real damage to your computer), people were understandably pissed about this stunt. As for the video game itself... let's just say there's a reason why no one's really talked about it much, if at all.
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