Just in case something blew my mind on December 31st, I wanted to wait until the official end of 2008 to decide on what I felt were the year's most mind-dumbing campaigns. And after two weeks of meditation, I've chosen my top 13. Enjoy...or don't. And please, feel free to disagree...or add your own.
Taglines That Shouldn’t Have Been
So you can drink it. That means it’s not a solid or gas, which you would have to chew or breathe in. I understand it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and silly, but it literally says nothing, and when compared to previous Bud Light ads/campaigns like “Real Men of Genius” or “Swear Jar,” it falls flat.
“Not Reality. Actuality.”—TruTV
What the frigg does that mean? So reality isn’t necessarily actual, but actual is real. This is like when I read Plato’s explanation of nothingness for a college physics class. Something cannot be nothing, but a nothing is a something. But you’re not gonna sell a comparison to Plato for the network that airs Party Heat and World’s Dumbest Criminals. How about something more accurate like “TruTV. More than just idiots who accidentally light themselves on fire.”
“The Future. Delicious.”—Microsoft
This is the tagline at the end of the panned Gates/Seinfeld Microsoft commercial. I first took this ad as an attempt to create an offbeat spot that appealed to the Mac crowd, and in trying to do so, failed miserably by using a comedian that hasn’t been relevant this century. It was later explained to me that the idea was really just to make Bill Gates more than a faceless voice in the sky behind the microchips. But “delicious?” What the frigg does “delicious” have to do with anything Microsoft is doing. The conversation Seinfeld and Gates were having was about shoes! Were they gonna eat the shoes? I think my original assessment was right.
“AT&T has plans for your business.”—AT&T Business Services
When you break it down, it makes sense. It simply gets across the point of the product and even notes that they have a variety of plans to choose from. However, it feels kind of cryptic and like it should be followed by “MUHHAAWAAAHHH!” AT&T, my business is officially scared.
We’ve all tried to forget Naomi Campbell dancing with multi-colored lizards to Thriller. This spot had all of the makings of a bunch of people sitting around a table going, “Hey, let’s use Thriller. That song’s awesome.”
When another chimes in, “And let’s do the Thriller dance. I saw this hysterical wedding video.”
A third says, “No, let’s have lizards do the Thriller dance.”
And yet another goes, “But we totally need a super model.”
“How about Naomi Campbell? She’s beloved by everyone and has never assaulted a housekeeper or police officer.”
Now weird I can live with. People have different senses of humor. I personally love Gilbert Godfried. And maybe this was Campbell’s community service. But the final straw comes when the entire campaign is branded with the title of the song used for the particular spot, “Thrillicious.com.” Thrillicious.com was apparently a site with many comedic shorts always featuring the lizards drinking Life Water. I never knew this because the spot annoyed me so much I vowed never to support the product. Then, subsequent commercials still featured Campbell, the lizards and “Thrillicious”, but dropped the title track for Black Magic Woman, which makes even less sense! I can understand tying the product to the concept of thrilling and delicious, but now you’ve gone even further from your product and chosen a song about the future UFC fighter starring in your commercial. Sorry, I just didn’t get this.
“Saved by Zero”—Toyota
Okay, the first time anyone heard this, did they immediately think, Truck Nutz? Cause that’s what I think every time I hear it. And truck nuts don’t make me hungry.
“Windows. Life Without Walls”—Microsoft
Microsoft’s second entry on our list is the final tag to their version of “I’m a PC…” My problem is this. The product is Windows, but where do you put a window? In a wall. And where are most computers kept? Inside buildings…that have walls. So if life had no walls, we wouldn’t have many windows or computers. For a line that just got tacked on to the end of the spot, they could’ve come up with something simpler like, “Windows. Because you’re too lazy to learn how to use a Mac.”
Just Bad Ideas
“Don’t You Forget About Me”—JCPenny
Let’s use a song released in 1985 to advertise back-to-school shopping to kids who were born after 1990.
“What Is Love”—Diet Pepsi Max
Pepsi has put up a pretty poor showing at the last two Super Bowls, but this was the worst of the bunch. Pepsi Max will wake up tired people. Makes sense. By why will they bob their heads? Wouldn’t they just wake up? And why would you choose a song from an SNL skit that hasn’t been “L” in a decade? Somebody at Pepsi must owe Haddaway a big favor. I’m talking taking a prison shiv type of favor.
“How would you say LOL?/Thumbs”—AT&T
AT&T makes the list for a second time with the faces on the thumbs that talk while someone is texting. Just freakin’ creepy.
“Chicken For Breakfast/2008 Olympics”—McDonald’s
And McDonald's strikes again as well. First off, chicken can be for breakfast, but some northerners may not be familiar with dishes like biscuits and gravy or chicken ‘n waffles (aaaaahhhhh, chicken n’ waffles), but Olympic athletes pushing McDonald’s on me, come on? And who’s the first person who actually holds the sandwich in her hand? The 110 pound runner. Guys, why not be honest and just use a fat guy in a hockey jersey saying, “So good, you’ll sacrifice an artery.”
So Napoleon kept his hand in his jacket because that’s where he put his GPS? Um, why was Napoleon, an 18th century French Emperor, driving a car through 21st century France? And furthermore, is Napoleon really the best spokesperson? Was Gilligan not available? I mean, when I think of Napoleon, successful is not the first word that comes to mind.
Like I said, feel free to disagree...or add your own.
--Captain Awesome, Copywriter