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We Don't Suck Anymore

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Sonic: Then WHAM! The reviewers slam it and you get, like, 4 out of 10 because you were dating this human girl in it.
Shadow: Tha—wait. I don't like that part...
Sonic: But then you bring it all back with an amazing game, and you're good to go! Easy as pie!
— The Sonic Twitter Takeover evoking this while discussing how to Win Back the Crowd.

Advertising trope where a company admits they've had trouble in the past, but if you buy their products now you won't be disappointed. Basically, they are saying they have what it takes to Win Back the Crowd from whatever caused them to leave in the first place, but rather than silently do it and let word of mouth take over, they've decided on a less subtle approach. If not done with the correct level of self-deprecating humor, it tends to fall flat. There can be a backlash if most people didn't see anything wrong with the product in the first place, but the company is pretending they sucked before to justify changes.

Compare New and Improved, which tries to imply that the product is better that it was without going into any detail about what was wrong before, or what they changed. See also Lampshade Hanging, The Man Is Sticking It to the Man, Public Relations Ad. If a company pretends to be someone else with a tone of "they don't suck anymore", it's also AstroTurf.

Contrast Our Product Sucks, when a company uses self-deprecation in an attempt at Reverse Psychology. Asbestos-Free Cereal is when they imply the competition's product sucks more than they do.

Known uses of this trope:

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  • Buick took a page from Oldsmobile but went up a notch when they started the "That isn't a Buick" campaign, based on the reputation of it being your grandfather's car.
  • British Leyland tried this once when they had a reputation for making lousy vehicles. It didn't work and they went bust.
  • General Motors tried this in The '80s with their "This Is Not Your Father's Oldsmobile" campaign. The goal was to change the old and stuffy image of the brand. The problem was that Oldsmobile already had a good reputation among the children of Oldsmobile owners before the campaign. Prospective buyers thought that they'd changed for the worse.
  • Honda took a page from Domino's regarding their bread-and-butter Civic compact. The ninth generation model, introduced in 2011, was panned critically and commercially, with even Consumer Reports taking the Civic off of the recommended list, where it was for ages. Honda admitted that the recession spooked them into thinking that cheap = good, in an era when the competition was stepping up their game. Honda's response was to initiate a emergency refresh for the 2013 model year to redesign the interior (the main source of the criticism), and to produce a TV ad called "Things Can Always Be Better" to admit that they whiffed.
  • When Hyundai reentered the American market after addressing safety concerns, they aired a commercial showing a car driving through the countryside while an announcer described the car without mentioning the company, until the last line of the ad, which ended like with the words "...with the new Scoupe from Hyundai...yes, Hyundai."
  • Skoda, the Czech car company, used to have a reputation for making memetically bad cars in the UK during the Cold War. Since then they have been taken over by VW and now make cars of similar quality (often pretty much the same cars, in fact) but considerably cheaper. They were able to make a comeback in the UK with these cars by an advert campaign that acknowledged their former reputation and poked fun at it, for example with characters who refused to believe a car was a Skoda; the campaign was called "It's a Skoda. Honest." Or in the Dutch speaking world: a whole page dedicated to showing every older model of Skoda and in the middle the slogan "Skoda: no more laughing".
  • Toyota since February 2010, at least in America, with the "We fixed the engine screw-up that was killing people" message.

    Food & Drink 
  • Bailey's are trying to rebrand, to lose their fusty, old-fashioned image. As they were trying so hard to prove that they Don't Suck Any More, they were hesitant to accept a request from The Mighty Boosh for a character called Old Gregg to be portrayed drinking Bailey's, since they imagined he would probably be an aging man. They eventually allowed the usage when they were informed that Old Gregg was, in fact, a transsexual man-fish, which is apparently much more in line with the company's new target market.
  • Coca-Cola:
    • The Coca-Cola/New Coke/Coke Classic saga. Basically, Coca-Cola tried changing its formula in the '80s and rebranded itself "New Coke" to distinguish it. It failed miserably, with people universally panning the taste, and in a few months, they went back to the old formula, now called "Coke Classic" to assure customers it was the same product they had always loved and admitting they had messed up with New Coke.
    • There was once a Sprite commercial brandishing their new logo design and new taste... except at the end of the commercial was a cue card and the announcer very quickly stating "Now tastes more like 7-Up!". It was very quickly pulled off the air after someone at Coca-Cola must have realized the implications of admitting that the competition is better and something you're striving to be like, especially off the heels of the aforementioned New Coke.
  • Domino's Pizza, formerly known as the cheap but cardboardy brand, completely overhauled their advertising in 2010, stressing that, basically, "yeah, our pizza sucked, but we're gonna do better from now on." One of its commercials includes a dramatic reading of complaints about the quality of its pizza, followed by claims that they're changing how they make the stuff. Surprisingly, this has proven rather successful; the new pizza is definitely seen as better than the bulk of the competition. They're doing the same with their cheesy bread. Stephen Colbert named Domino's Alpha Dog of the Week for boldly telling their customers how utterly awful their own product was, particularly since they had been extolling the same product's virtues in their previous marketing campaign.
  • Foster Farms tried this out of desperation after their 2013 salmonella debacle, taking out full page ads in newspapers to ensure customers that their meat wouldn't make them sick anymore.
  • In 2014, after getting a reputation for poor service, Friendly's Restaurants advertised basically that "We haven't always lived up to our name, but from now on...!"
  • Iceland (not the country, a British grocery chain focused on frozen food), has a section of its website critical of Bill Grimsey, who was Chairman of the company during the worst period in its history.
  • The Australian/New Zealand energy drink "Mother" was hideously unpopular due to its horrid taste. After it was re-formulated, an extensive marketing campaign was launched, including new cans that stated (literally) "Tastes NOTHING like the old one!" and TV ads depicting commandos beating up the people responsible for the taste of the old formula.

  • K-Rock in New York: after losing Howard Stern but later picking up Opie & Anthony, someone got the bright idea to switch formats (with cryptic advertisements that sounded more like horror-movie scare warnings) to all-talk radio. Ratings tanked, largely due to constantly shifting programs/schedules and little coherence between them aside from "radio talk show." They later reverted to a rock format, with sweepers stating "The Rock Is Back". Apparently it wasn't back enough, as they later switched AGAIN to "92.3 Now", a Top 40 format.
  • Southern Ontario station Q107, for a while, played bumpers advertising that their commercials aren't as long as they used to be, before nearly every commercial break.
  • NYC rock station WRXP was sold to Merlin Media and switched to an "FM News" format that failed miserably. The station flipped back to rock after a year and change, running promos boasting that "Alternative is back" and poking fun at the news format's failure. Then, just a few months later, the station was sold again - to CBS, who turned it into a simulcast of AM sports-talk station WFAN.

    Video Games 

  • Ads for the ABC sitcom The Neighbors have taken to saying things like, "Critics are changing their minds about The Neighbors!"
  • The infamous Action Park, a dangerous Water Park nicknamed "Class Action Park" for all the injuries and the several deaths that happened on its premises, went bankrupt. The park was sold off and renamed "Mountaincreek" by the new management to distance it from the pain and tragedy of Action Park. However, the new management went bankrupt as well, selling it back to the original owners, who renamed it "Action Park" once more with the slogan, "All of the thrills, and none of the spills." After two years, it was renamed once again to Mountaincreek, presumably because of the Park's deadly reputation.
  • BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, tried to invoke this, putting out full-page ads stating that they care about the environment and they're doing their absolute besty-best to clean up the 2010 Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico (but apparently had money leftover for full-page ads about it), which became bigger than the Exxon-Valdez disaster in the late '80s.note  The fallout may have also contributed to BP reviving (in select markets) the Amoco brand that had largely disappeared following BP's acquisition of Amoco in 2001.
  • Cartoon Network tried this approach when promoting its CNReal programming block, saying "We're not just cartoons anymore." It apparently didn't occur to them that there need to be a large volume of complaints in the first place for this to work. CNReal flopped horribly, and while the network does still go for live-action, they're now just treating it as just another program.
  • Disney CEO Bob Iger openly called Disney's California Adventure "mediocre" and began a redesign that lasted from 2007 to 2012.
  • The trailers for the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons leaned heavily on saying older editions were over-complicated and dull games played by boring nerds. This helped drive the backlash against it and the rise of Pathfinder.
  • In 2018, Facebook began airing ads saying that they know that what was great about them has been messed up by spam and fake news and so-forth, but they're cleaning all that up, so don't worry.
  • Most people in the UK hated the Go Compare adverts featuring the "Go Compare" song. After around a year or so (maybe more) of generally not realising the public hated their adverts, they started creating adverts in which the Go Compare singer is punished in numerous ways. They seem to have stopped now, but the character no longer sings, instead being portrayed as more meek and normal. It hasn't stopped the adverts being played excessively on TV. Later commercials have the singer pitching new ideas on how to advertise Go Compare, which are all really bad. The character then faded into the background of the Llandofsavingmoneyandgettingtherightdealgogogompare ads, which initially showed him as driving the tour bus to the Welsh village, before both he and the bus disappeared from the campaign. In 2015, they rode the backlash-to-the-backlash (many people having found the "punishing" ads mean-spirited), portraying the singer's triumphant return playing to a packed concert hall of fans.
  • Almost every single advertisement from Icelandic banks after they collapsed in 2008, nearly bankrupting the country.
  • Irish Rail company Iarnrod Eireann had a "We're aware we suck and we're actively working on the suck problem"-type campaign with their slogan, "Getting there". Very similar to British Rail's 1980s slogan "We're getting there".
  • J.C. Penney suffered a backlash from its formerly loyal customers after they brought in a new CEO in 2011 and began selling clothes from hip, new brands aimed at attracting the younger crowd (like T-shirts you'd expect to find at Hot Topic, for starters). Their sales plummeted. As a result the new CEO was fired, the old CEO was brought back, and an ad was released promising that the changes had been reversed, saying "We learned a very simple thing, to listen to you. Come back to J.C. Penney, we'd love to see you."
  • After multiple lawsuits against them involving the talc in their baby powder causing cancer, and other negative press regarding icky ingredients in their baby shampoo and other products, Johnson & Johnson began airing ads saying that they're "a baby company" and talking about all the wonderful things they do for the community. Then another ruling came down awarding over $500 million in damages against them for their and a subsidiary company's role in creating the opioid crisis.
  • A variation in one ad that had a mother unpacking a grocery bag and producing a bottle of Listerine, causing all her children to flee from its horrible taste. "Relax," she explains, "it's new Less Intense!" Also, Stridex facial pads ran an ad featuring a teenager staring at the pad in his hand and screaming as he slowly brings it to his face... only to find that it doesn't sting. The announcer explains that they no longer contain alcohol, so customers can get the same acne prevention "without the harsh experience".
  • Microsoft:
    • "The Browser You Loved To Hate" Internet Explorer campaign.
    • Also, their campaign with the Office 97 dinosaurs also qualifies, though in a very different way. They weren't trying to convince people to give a formerly-notorious product a new chance; they were actually trying to CONVINCE the public that '97 sucked. Microsoft's biggest problem selling Office 2000/XP was that people felt their current versions of Office were good enough and were standing pat rather than pay as much as $300 for the upgrade.
    • The Office XP = Ex-Paperclip advertisements were a bit more effective, since nobody likes Clippy.
  • NBC's reveal trailer for season 3 of Heroes opened with what was essentially an apology for season 2 and claiming that the viewers from ComicCon who were disappointed in S2 thought it was better.
  • PG&E started a campaign of this nature after the San Bruno gasoline explosion.
  • Phillip Morris and their We Care-style ads that ran during the period of time when Congress was enacting new anti-smoking laws and regulations. Most said something to the effect of "smoking these things will kill you, so read this medical data and buy snus instead, please."
  • RadioShack tried this in 2014 with a commercial saying that they're reinventing and modernizing their selection (by showing various 80s icons looting an old RadioShack store). It didn't work, as they filed for bankruptcy a year later.
  • Saturday Night Live: Tom Hanks says this about the show during his monologue from 1996, after SNL improved following the disastrous 1994-95 season.
  • There's a Sears commercial in which a woman is continually asked where she got her clothes, and each time responds "Sears" with a little bit more confidence as she learns that no one will mock her for clothes shopping at Sears. They tried again in 2016, basing their ads on the knowledge that people park near Sears because nobody goes to that end of the mall. Results have been less than promising to say the least.
  • Sea World released PR ads after they finally decided to end their orca breeding program, highlighting that they can't release their orcas into the wild because they wouldn't survive, but that they're phasing out performances and that this will be their last captive generation of orcas. They cite "changing times" and people's changing attitudes toward orcas, though really it was because ticket sales had plummeted after the tell-all documentary Black Fish was released.
  • The deregulation of the Swedish railroad system has not been a painless affair, and what with one thing and the other, it's reached the point where train travel in the winter means there will be hideous delays — assuming the departure isn't cancelled outright.note  It got to the point where SJ (the largest of the passenger train operators) ran ads that had SJ employees go to absurd lengths to avoid telling people where they worked, ending with a tag that essentially boiled down to "We're sorry! We'll do better!"
  • Subtly done with advertisements for the UK's newly separate TSB Bank, part of LloydsTSB between 1999 and 2013. Their first advert declared "TSB isn't like other big banks", and their 2016 Partnership campaign has the slogan "TSB Partners are here to help, not just sell you stuff". While the "other big banks" are not named, Lloyds was fined a record amount for high pressure sales tactics just as TSB was splitting off.
  • "Under New Management" signs, and the inverse "Back under Original Management/Owner".
  • Verizon Wireless:
    • The "Can you hear me now?" campaign was a subtle version of this: they'd received criticism over less-than-stellar network quality, so their commercials showed a Verizon employee testing their upgraded network by going to various improbable places and asking if the person on the other end of the phone could hear him. The last line of the commercial was always, "...Good.", thus emphasizing that it was, indeed, working better than it used to.
    • After Verizon was caught red-handed throttling cell and data plans for first responders (such as firefighters and EMTs) during the catastrophic California wildfires of 2018 (plans that were claimed to be unlimited), they created a new and actually unlimited plan for first responders and then began airing ads in California trumpeting how they were going the extra mile for first responders.
  • After Wells Fargo Bank got caught making fake bank accounts, they ran ads essentially saying "We don't defraud customers anymore." They later went a step further, claiming that they were "re-established" in 2018 and they're apparently a whole different company now.
  • After the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series, a popular t-shirt came out bearing the outline of Cubs Manager Joe Madden's rectangular sunglasses and the words "WE DID NOT SUCK".
  • The British holiday camp chain Butlin’s invoked this in the 1980s. In ads set to the music of “O Fortuna”, we see a camp completely destroyed with dynamite and big explosions. The point being that Butlin’s was investing heavily into remodeling and renovating their camps to modernize them. Oddly, some hated the ads saying that it was erasing the charm of the old camps.

    In-Universe examples