A good, convincing commercial can cost a lot of money to produce. While not on the level of producing a film, the cost of writers, camera crews, actors, special effects, and music can be close, especially for commercials that are going to air during the Super Bowl. And while larger companies can handle these expenses with ease, to smaller business owners, spending this much money on a 30 second commercial spot is a gamble. Especially since there's no guarantee that the commercial will actually attract people instead of being just another nuisance to skip over with their DVR, or appearing only on some PEG Channel that no one actually watches, or might not be seen at all as more and more people switch to ad-free streaming services instead of cable or satellite. So naturally, local commercials cut corners, but are usually still halfway presentable.
But this cost cutting is exaggerated in fiction. Commercials will air on ungodly time slots, the script will be cheesy, the actors will either have the theatrical chops of a toothpick or jump around and act craaaaazy, the slogan will suck, and the whole thing will be shot in front of a green screen with the worst off the shelf effects ever seen. By the time it's done, the final product will be So Bad, It's Good at best. Compare Embarrassing Ad Gig.
A type of Stylistic Suck, though it can be Truth in Television as well. Compare Japandering, a kitschy foreign commercial.
Note: Do not add Real Life commercials as examples here. List them on SoBadItsGood.Advertising.
- In Great Teacher Onizuka, Onizuka makes several low budget local commercials starring Tomoko, in order to give her a start in show business. This is actually noted to be a very cunning strategy. It's much easier to break into than the crowded national campaign markets but doing enough of them can give a similar level of coverage.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury, Earth House creates a PV for the up-and-coming GUND-ARM Inc. company Suletta and Miorine started. The commercial is laughably bad, seeing as it was created by a bunch of teenagers. Poor Suletta is shown dancing and moving with a poorly modeled Gundam Aerial that still has green screen artifacts around it, there's obvious jump cuts, Suletta is obviously at her wits end by the end of the commercial, their song is completely off-key at times and there's a goat that not only wanders in the background, it bleats at the very end of the commercial.
- The Donald Duck comic story "Paperino e lo spot a basso costo" has Donald and Fethry Duck working in an agency that makes zero-budget ads, made up mainly of random Stock Footage and Fethry's Bad "Bad Acting". When they accidentally end up making an advert for a shovel-producing corporation, they come out with a Special Effects Failure-laden campy ad with a terrible script about an Alien Invasion thwarted by shovel-whacking. The ad still ends up attracting thousands of customers.
- Halloween Unspectacular: In "There's An App For That" from the eighth edition, the ad E350 is forced to watch is a poorly-done advertisement for Beach City Fries. It's got shades of Totally Radical in the dialogue, the actors are either stilted or hammy, and there are several interruptions that go unremoved (such Ronaldo trying to promote his blog at the end).
- In the Sonic Stop Motion Adventures episode, "Date Fright", Silver comes across a cheap late-night commercial of Vector's Chaotix Dating Advice service, with kitchsy music, silly-looking fonts, Vector coughing and repeating during the recording, and Espio's microphone being visible and even hitting Vector during the capture. What takes the cake is the scene of Espio acting as a man being rejected by a woman, played by a very poorly-dressed Knuckles.
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: The Mayor's commercial for Sardine Land, for which animators went the extra mile to make it look as cheap as possible, even faking the worst blue-screen effects possible in a medium that doesn't even require it.
- The Brave Little Toaster: The TV makes a fake one of these for "Crazy Ernie's Emporium of TOTAL Bargain MADNESS!" in order to try and convince the Master to go to the local junkyard and possibly rescue the main protagonists. Since the TV has complete control of his screen, he does manage some decent visuals, but the lines he comes up with are rather silly and increasingly overacted due to his panic and desperation to be noticed.
- Monsters, Inc.: Near the beginning, Mike and Sulley watch the new M.I. commercial that they appeared in. Not as bad as most examples, but has some chuckle-worthy, slightly sheepish acting from Sulley.
- The Super Mario Bros. Movie: The Mario Bros. are introduced early in the movie having spent their life savings making a commercial for their recently-started plumbing business, Super Mario Bros. Plumbing. Elements include the brothers ditching their New York accents in favor of Charles Martinet-esque Italian accents (which a character voiced by Martinet himself approves of), a corny rap jingle (the same one from the 1989 cartoon show), a "satisfied customer" clearly reading from an off-camera cue card (and finding the line cheesy), and a green screen conspicuously reflecting off of the brothers' skin.
- Toy Story 2: The commercial for Al's Toy Barn is a prime example, which the toys study location to from Andy's house.
- Wreck-It Ralph: Among the fake advertisements Disney used for the movie, one of them is a commercial for The Fix-It Felix Hammer, having shoddy graphics, poor format, and obviously-stock pictures and videos.
- The Massey Motors commercials in Raising Helen had even more problems than a normal cheesy local used car dealership commercial because of Mr. Massey's refusal to be "dishonest" and the fact that his toupee would blow off.
- The commercial the title characters put out in Ghostbusters (1984). It has no music, the characters are wooden and it looks like it was shot for about 5 bucks. In Ghostbusters II, after their comeback, the Busters rope Janine and Louis into doing a commercial, with Bad "Bad Acting" and cheap special effects.
- Beetlejuice. The commercial featuring the title character appears to be based on the cheezy ads Cal Worthington used to create for his car dealership.
- Used Cars: first they hijack a TV transmission of an Emergency Presidential Address to hawk their rival's cars (thus getting him into trouble). In another live commercial their model loses her dress. Later a legitimate (bad) commercial says that they have "styles" of cars but the audio is altered by people working for the rival to say "miles" instead; the lot is then sued for false advertising, since they don't have a mile of cars.
- The day is saved at the last second when the final car comes into the lot while a judge is measuring all of them with a tape measure. It's just short at first ... until the license plate covering the gas cap falls open, which adds the few inches needed to make it a "mile of cars."
- The audio store commercial from Boogie Nights.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's UHF features a few of these, including one for Spatula City (they sell spatulas, and that's all!)
- In Batman (1989), the Joker makes one of these to announce "Joker Brand Cosmetics, with Smilex"; complete with him posing with carboard cutout models, shopping in a fake grocery store, and doing a side-by-side comparison with a "Brand-X".
- Hopper's commercial in The Muppet Movie is so painfully bad, it's the reason why he wants Kermit to be his spokesman - or spokesfrog, anyway.
- The family Bros. Bar-B-Q in Friday After Next is an example. Barbeque tastes so good, makes you want to slap your mama! Willie proceeds to slap his mama for real. Craig's said you might have missed it because they only have enough money for a 15 second spot.
- John Waters wanted to get a local wig shop owner to narrate Pink Flamingos because of the horrible Baltimore accent he used in commercials. When he refused, Waters impersonated his style for the film.
- The Morrie's Wigs scene from Goodfellas, which starts off with a commercial shot in this style before cutting to the actual wig shop as Jimmy and Henry are shaking down Morrie.
- The WNUF Halloween Special makes heavy use of these to convey its gimmick of it being a supposed found recording of a late 80s local TV station broadcast.
- In Punch-Drunk Love, antagonist Dean Trumbell runs a mattress store: A deleted scene has him filming an amateurish ad that concludes with a stunt where he attempts to jump off of a truck trailer onto a few mattresses stacked on top of a car, with predictably painful results. This was a replication of a real blooper from a low budget furniture store ad, and Philip Seymour Hoffman did the stunt himself.
- Arly Hanks: In The Merry Wives of Maggody, the boat salesman who contributed the bass boat to the golf tournament is first seen filming a commercial that was meant to feature a bad pun about taking the bull by the horns, but the bull rented for the filming kept wandering off.
- The entire premise of Rhett & Link: Commercial Kings.
- Men of a Certain Age: After Scarpulla Chevrolet creates a series of cheesy rap commercials, Owen decides to shoot a classy commercial with his dad and his friend Terry. Terry decides it's too boring and convinces Owen to outcheese Scarpulla.
- In an episode of Modern Family, baby Lily gets a part in one of these. Along with all of the usual cheesiness, this commercial is also extremely racist.
- Angel: Cordelia makes a commercial for Angel Investigations, but they never have it aired. Doyle is the on-air "talent," and he's very uncomfortable on camera.
- This is also probably one of the only examples of this trope that also doubles as a Tragic Keepsake, after Doyle dies.
- Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! mocks these to no end.
- A staple in recent years on Saturday Night Live, often relegated towards the end of the episode.
- In Degrassi: The Next Generation, Joey Jeremiah is shown in a series of commercials for his car lot. The commercials largely follow this model.
- Similarly to the office, the gang in Raising Hope has to film a commercial for the store where they work. All of the sample commercials they film have elements of this.
- Saul Goodman's ads in Breaking Bad, "Better Call Saul!" He may be invoking this trope as part of his Obfuscating Stupidity act.
- This is extended on the Prequel Spin-Off Better Call Saul, where the viewer learns he developed the Saul Goodman persona as a commercial director.
- Several of the recurring sketches on SCTV were actually commercials for businesses local to the fictional Melonville area where the SCTV station was said to be based.
- One of the more memorable series of sketches involved commercials for "Tex and Edna's Organ Emporium," and how Tex and Edna's divorce, and their efforts to move on, played out through the commercials.
- My Name Is Earl occasionally features these kind of ads. In particular the ad Joy's parents produce for their waterbed store.
- Sonia on The Brothers García makes a truly terrible commercial for her at-home beauty salon all by herself, prompting the rest of the family to secretly create a much better one.
- Karen and Jack appeared in one on Will & Grace.
- The mattress commercial, featuring Van Halen's "Jump", in the Glee episode "Mattresses".
- Al Bundy's 555-SHOE ad, on Married... with Children.
- Almost Live! had a lot of fun making fun of the more infamous bad commercials made in the Seattle area. One of their finest is "Roscoe's Oriental Rug Emporium", spoofing a place in Pioneer Square that seemed to be having a "going out of business" sale every other month.
- Friends featured a few of these starring Janice's not-quite-ex husband, the Mattress King.
- Community: Greendale has had one of these commercials running for years. One episode revolves around them filming a new one. This being Greendale, Hilarity Ensues.
- When Jeff graduates and decides not to rejoin his old unethical law firm, he has Abed make him a commercial for his private law practice.
- Arrested Development: In Season 3, attorney Bob Loblaw is introduced to viewers with a commercial for his practice, in which he dramatically says the name "Bob Loblaw" and (thanks to in-universe poor continuity) is seen closing the same law book three times, for effect.
- Detroiters revolves around two best friends who run a Detroit-based ad agency that specializes in making these.
- Seinfeld: in the episode "The Junk Mail," Jerry searches through an old VHS tape and finds out Elaine's latest boyfriend once appeared as "the Wiz" in a kitschy commercial for the Nobody Beats The Wiz chain of electronics stores.
- The entire final scene ("Chef of the Future") of the classic "Better Living Through TV" episode of The Honeymooners.
- Several times on Mr. Show, including Don Pratt, who doesn't really have a service to offer but just wants to help and hang out with his clients (he's also a Basement-Dweller). It features interviews from several confused past clients.
- The Office (US) has an entire episode, "Local Ad", about the employees making one of these.
- Once Upon a Time has a few of these as part of the DVD bonus feature "Good Morning Storybrooke".
- Played for Drama in Party of Five, when Julia and Griffin spend the last of their savings to make a commercial for their failing auto shop. The commercial's quality was so bad that they couldn't get it to air.
- One Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode had a sleazy Private Detective advertise his services this way:
P.I. Leo Sporm: How do you know if your wife's cheating on you? You don't.
Ad voiceover: Call Leo now! (Complete with 555 number.)
- An episode of Smart Guy focused on the Hendersons making one for Floyd's roofing business, starring Floyd as a superhero called "Roofer-Man". When the commercial winds up being aired in a 3am timeslot due to the cable station executive's misleading contractnote , TJ breaks into the studio and sets the computer to play it during "Sunday primetime" instead. Unfortunately, this results in the cheap, So Bad, It's Good commercial being aired during the Super Bowl, where it quickly achieves in-universe memetic status while costing the station millions in ad-revenue.
- 30 Rock uses this for Liz's one role while still pursuing an acting career in Chicago: a phone sex line called 1-900-OKFACE.
- Cobra Kai:
- LaRusso Auto Group's ads feature Daniel karate-chopping prices and announcing that all buying customers get their own Bonsai tree for free. If anything it demonstrates how much he can't let go of the past, just like his rival Johnny Lawrence.
Daniel: Banzai! Daniel LaRusso here from LaRusso Auto, bringing you specials on all of our inventory. We have an excess of Jeep Grand Cherokees, priced to go! Get a lease for only...[price tag: "$439/month"] Nah. Make that...[he "karate chops" the price down to "$339/month"] Yes, we are chopping prices on all of our Hondas, Nissans, Acuras, and Audis. So come visit any of our locations in Tarzana, Woodland Hills, North Hollywood, or Sherman Oaks. And as always, every customer leaves with their very own Bonsai tree. LaRusso Auto Group. We kick the competition!
- Tom Cole, Daniel's business rival, counters with his own ad in which he dresses up like a Yankee and promises customers a free drought resistant cactus.
Tom Cole: Patriot Tom Cole here! When I'm not busy fighting the hated British for your freedom, I'm fighting to bring you great deals, great American deals! And because I love this land we call home, I'm giving every new customer their very own drought-resistant cactus! In these dry times, it really is the only responsible plant to own, a STRONG AMERICAN plant. From the Strong American himself, me, Tom Cole! Cole's on Van Nuys! You...musket down here!
- LaRusso Auto Group's ads feature Daniel karate-chopping prices and announcing that all buying customers get their own Bonsai tree for free. If anything it demonstrates how much he can't let go of the past, just like his rival Johnny Lawrence.
- These frequently provided good material for World's Dumbest... Performers installments, one particularly egregious case forgot to add effects to the green screen.
- The third season of The Joe Schmo Show, a program in which the chosen "schmo" thought they were on a reality show but everyone else was an actor, parodied a competition to become a bounty hunter. The host, Ralph Garman, played the role of the bounty hunter Jake Montrose, and at one point there was a segment in which the schmo and actors made one of these for his bounty-hunting service.
- Several of Taco's ideas and schemes in The League were accompanied with these. They were typically filmed using homeless people and girls he slept with as the actors and were typically filmed in Andre's apartment (which they would break into without his knowledge). These commercials including one where he advertises the fact that he had become a unlicensed notary by pressing his notary stamp against a suicide bomber, turning him into a bikini clad supermodel.
- Schitt's Creek: In Season Six, in order to make up for a perceived slight, Moira stars in a low-budget tourism ad for the town of Schitt's Creek.
- The first trailer for Season 3 of Stranger Things is one of these for the newly built Star Court Mall, complete with over the top narration describing both the mall and Hawkins and deliberately bad acting from Joe Keery (Steve Harrington) and Maya Hawke (Robin Buckley).
- In one episode of Leverage, Hardison makes a fake commercial for a Japanese energy drink starring Eliot's baseball player identity.
- The entirety of the Odd Squad episode "Odd Squad Needs You" revolves around the Big Office asking Oprah to make a commercial of the same name in order to get kids to join Odd Squad. Oscar explains to Olympia and Otis that the Big Office asks her to film a commercial every year, and instead of working together with his boss to film them, he films them himself. This leads Olympia to ask him how he pulls it off. Transition to a child watching the commercial, which is simplistic but cheesy, with Limited Animation in regards to Oprah's mouth, Oscar's terrible impersonation of her voice, and a re-used shot from the theme used in "First Day", with Oprah's head inflated. Otis offers to film a new commercial instead with Oprah as the lead actress when it's revealed that she's not easy to work with, believing that he can handle her, and it turns out to be just as bad as Oscar's previous ones, which isn't helped by Oprah's horrific acting skills and Otis' horrific editing skills. However, the climax reveals that Otis intentionally made it bad in order to team up with Olympia and film a viable commercial out of Oprah's upset reaction, which includes a Rousing Speech about what the commercial was supposed to advertise.
- Delivery Doug's egg salad restaurant commercial, seen in "Teach a Man to Ice Fish", looks about as cheap as you'd expect from someone who downgraded from a back-alley restaurant to two locations in a desolate area, with people in egg and egg sandwich costumes, terrible special effects, and a jingle taken straight from Doug and Debbie's combined egg salad pizza business in "Mystic Egg Pizza" and repurposed with new lyrics.
- Frank Zappa's song "Eddie, Are You Kidding?" from Just Another Band from L.A. spoofed Edward Nalbandian and his commercials for Zacharary's All Clothing store on local Los Angeles TV. The song title and chorus were an actual quote from a Nalbandian commercial.
- The "Weird Al" Yankovic song "Handy" also has its music video done in this style, complete with hammy acting and deliberately bad special effects.
- Maine rapper Spose featured a track on his album The Peter Sparker Mixtape called "Bob Johnson", about the sleazy owner of a local Jacuzzi business, who cheats on his wife with one of his employees and then dies after his wife poisons his dinner. The chorus is designed to sound like a local TV/radio commercial for his business.
- Made-up audio versions of this trope, ostensibly for Lake Wobegon small businesses and assorted oddball products, are a staple feature of A Prairie Home Companion.
- Parodied without mercy in sketch show Son of Cliché.
- The now-deceased JAWS attraction at Universal Studios Florida featured many of these commercials (all of which were shot when the ride first opened in the early '90s and used until its closure in January 2012) as part of its very large amount of fictional Amity TV programming that played in the queue line.
- Similar to the above, when Disneyland's (and Walt Disney World's) Space Mountain was sponsored by Federal Express in the mid-90s, the queue line was given a fictional amount of intergalactic TV programming that played as guests were waiting for their rockets. You could expect many commercials, news stories, fashion updates, and various other TV programs, but the one that fits the "kitschy" mold in particular was the hyperactive "Crazy Larry" (played by Charles Fleischer), whose business had pretty much the most commercials in the whole loop.
- Used as a Worldbuilding tool in Fallout: New Vegas, load screens are almost entirely poster ads, billboards, and paper paraphernalia of pre-war Nevada. The ads are generally of mediocre quality at best, one shows a 50's style Strongman lifting weights with the caption, "Build Mass With Sass! Sunset Sarsaparilla"
- The radio on every Grand Theft Auto game is filled with these.
- Ghostbusters: The Video Game opens with one in the style of the ones in the movies. The Wii version is even more kitschy than the "realistic" versions of the game.
- Not for Broadcast: Crazy Neil's ads need to be seen to be believed.
At Crazy Neil's, every deal is a steal, with Neil appeal!
- "Gary's Mattresses" is a parody of these.
- Big Bill Hell's is also a parody, done by people who were making relatively serious used car commercials from roughly the same template at the same time. note
- Homestar Runner had a few cartoons featuring rambling derelict Senor Cardgage as a pitch-man.
- "Senor Mortgage" had Senor Cardgage running a financial services company, offering to help viewers "get a leg up on the pile" with the aid of "one of our handsome-talking experts".
- "Senorial Day" had Senor Cardgage advertising the "Senorial Day Tent Event Suprasale". Meanwhile, Bubs had his own super-cheesy ad for "Bubs-otathon", which he promoted with a series of horrible puns, such as dressing like John McEnroe and calling his competition a "total racket!"
Bubs: We're holding up a novelty rubber chicken and playing a cartoony sound effect (boing-boing!) of savings!
- Robert L. Hines produced a series of skits parodying these kind of advertisements, playing as the character of Tom Jones running a truck rental service, BBQ with a foot massage service, and a combination of a law firm and daycare, all big/good/cheap ass! Here's a playlist.
- Spend Money. Live Smaller. Smal-Mart.
- 5 Second Films has a number of these, including ads for the slightly unhinged attorney at law/goblinhunter Dimo Higgins (pictured above), the frightening town of Chico, and Pauly P's Pet Pemporium.
- LoadingReadyRun occasionally features the exploits of Dave's Spokesman, who advertises businesses with strange combinations of products, all owned (allegedly) by a man named Dave. He an odd manner of speaking, and may not even know what he's advertising half the time. He also does local news.
- Dave himself appears once, and reveals that he's been paying the Spokesman to not advertise his business.
- The "Antiquing" sketch starts with a classy commercial for Reilly's Antiques and Rarities Showroom starring it's owner Robert Reilly. However, the business ends up doing poorly so we then see a more down-to-earth commercial for the rebranded Reilly's Antiques Showroom and Sales Center. As things go downhill, the next commercial is for Rob's Discount Antiques Warehouse and is done in a kitchy style with Robert wearing a cowboy hat and advertising his store like it was a used car dealership. In the final commercial Robert has clearly given up and is ranting at the audience to come to Reilly's Pile of Old Crap and buy something.
- The Khum Dhan commercial. A parody of miracle Snake Oil remedies for literally anything where the entire joke is that the product is an Accidental Innuendo.
- In a Foil, Arms and Hog sketch. "Hello, I'm Matts Matterson from The Mat Warehouse. I own the company, and I also do the adverts."
- Are you a piece of shit that got yourself sent to Hell? An innocent soul who got screwed over by someone else? Was it entirely their fault and no one else's? Do you want to stick it back to them? Then pick up that phone and call the Immediate Murder Professionals!
- Blitzø: (singing) Kids die for free!
- The Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter video "Eggman Pirate TV" commercial, with cheap-looking text plattered over cutscenes from Sonic the Hedgehog games, frequent colored bar flickers, and a typical commercial endplate at the end.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: In "As Seen on TV", Mr. Krabs decides to make a commercial for the Krusty Krab, and Squidward initially goes all out to make it as extravagant as possible. Krabs then decides it's too much and goes for a cheesy, low-budget commercial on at 3AM, which still leads to Spongebob getting a swelled head for being in it for about three or four seconds.
- The Simpsons:
- Homer's first "Mr. Plow" ad, which aired at 3:17 AM on Channel 92 and featured Bad "Bad Acting" from the family, including Grampa as "Old Man Winter".
- Mister Burns' student employee recruitment tape also fits this. It was clearly filmed in a single take with Homer, Carl and Lenny as the (lack of) talent and a script that vaunts nuclear power as a better option than sawing your legs off to beg.
Lisa: Why would Lenny want someone to saw his legs off?
Homer: Well, there were script problems from day one.
Bart: Didn't seem like anybody even read the script.
Homer: That was the problem.
- Family Guy:
- Al Harrington of the Wacky Waving Arm-Flailing Inflatable Tube Man Emporium and Warehouse.
- In an episode when Peter becomes one of the New England Patriots, he does a local spot for a car dealership complete with monotone reading, eyes following cue-cards, forced football references, and crappy redundant jingle.
- Bob's Burgers: In "Easy Commercial, Easy Go-Mercial", Bob makes a commercial to air locally during the Super Bowl, as a way of showing up Jimmy Pesto during his lavish Super Bowl party. Louise wrote the script, which includes Gene as a giant burger attacking the city with mustard, and Linda singing. Horrified at the end result, Bob ends up doing a new commercial with a retired football player named Sandy Frye, earning his family's ire.
- DuckTales (2017): In the episode "Storkules in Duckburg", Louie films an advertisement for his company Harp-B-Gone. For some reason, Webby is cast as the husband, Huey is cast as the wife, and Storkules is cast as a baby. The commercial also has a lot of Bad "Bad Acting" and oddly placed special effects, with Huey even hanging a lampshade on the scenario by asking "Who wrote this?" in the middle of it.
- Gravity Falls aired a series of shorts between seasons during commercials, one of which was a hilariously terrible in-universe commercial for the Mystery Shack hosted by Grunkle Stan which was just as cheap as its owner, with features such as wooden acting, obvious green screening, flubs left in with clumsily edited corrections, accidentally filming himself robbing a customer, sudden Mood Whiplash, Rattling Off Legal, and finishing with an inexplicable screamer.
- "A Tale of Two Stans" shows that Stan's first business ventures involved these as well. Compared to the one he would make for the Mystery Shack, they were comparatively low-key.
- In the Phantom Investigators episode "Ghosts On Film", the Phantom Investigators have one that consists of Casey and Jericho posing in monster masks on a cheap set while Daemona narrates behind them.
- In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Laughing Fish", the Joker's broadcast ultimatum is accompanied by a cheesy commercial for the "Joker Fish" he's trying to copyright.
- An online short for OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes had Lord Boxman film a commercial for his evil robot manufacturing business. The infomercial suffers from amateur camera work, haphazard editing, acting that's stilted and flat in some places and inappropriately over-the-top in others, interviewees that look and sound like they have better things to do than be there, and a cheesy jingle that gets cut off at the end.