Top 5 Absolute Worst Ads of 2012

January 1, 2013

2012 was a great year, but there are ALWAYS sour apples in the bunch. Ever since I started in advertising, I’ve seen some pretty horrible advertisements… Heck, I’ve even made some. Local, national or international, there are some ads that SHOULD leave the creators in marketing purgatory (which is a dark dark place with no television, and non-stop replays of Ke$ha songs and Honey Boo-Boo quotes playing over a loudspeaker at level 11).

Without further ado, here’s my list of

The Top 5 Absolute Worst Ads of 2012

Number 5: Youngblood Kia

This local ad in Springfield Missouri is just the tip of the iceberg of a slew of wonderfully horrifying video ads that have aired over the years. What better cast of actors could you pick than the owner of the car dealership, and a squeeky-voiced 10 year old friend-of-a-friend’s kid?

Marketer’s Goal: “A middle aged car dealer dressing up as a mayan, jumping in the air yelling ‘What a place’? Who wouldn’t want to buy a car at Youngblood?”

Number 4: General Insurance

What better way to market to Ninjas and white belts alike than with a CG midget General and his trusty sidekick… a penguin with an iPad?! Surely you’ve seen these ads before. It just goes to prove that you can LITERALLY draw random words from a hat, hire a freshman 3D artist to animate those randomly drawn nouns, and make an insurance company out of it. I mean, Geico has a lizard, but at least it’s a witty lizard.

Number 3: Axe – “Office Love”

Axe is a brand willing to take risks, which is a dream for an ad agency, creative control can run free… or in this case, run amok. They’re always pushing the envelope, and here’s the message in that envelope: Women are nothing but a huge rack, and men are carnal idiots who stare at said rack all day. As far as sexist ads go, this one takes the cake. Which is a huge shame; the quality of the production is amazing, the storytelling ability is great, the message is demeaning to all of Axe’s consumers.

Hey Axe! You’re not in the condom industry… just sell some stinkin’ hairgel with a little class.

Number 2: GoDaddy “Body Paint”

On second thought, make Number 2: EVERY GODADDY AD EVER. Ok, let’s put the sex appeal aside for a moment. GoDaddy actually expects you to go to their website, try to find the full video clip which is supposed to show a full nude celebrity… after being very disappointed that no other videos exist, you’ll have the inexplicable urge to buy a domain name.

Dear Godaddy: You’re missing your target demographic. Instead of hitting business owners and entrepreneurs, you’re attracting overweight perverts looking for NSFW pics of Danica Patrick.

Number 1: Reebok – “Cheat on Your Boyfriend, not Your Workout”

In perhaps the greatest advertising snafu I’ve ever seen, Reebok was forced to remove ads that recommended that women should choose to “Cheat on your boyfriend, not your workout”. This is the same company that was fined $25 million by the FTC for releasing shoes that… just didn’t do what they said they could.

The company had this to say:

“We regret that some offensive Reebok materials were recently printed. The signs were removed as soon as we were made aware of them. I can assure you that Reebok does not condone this message or cheating in any way. We apologize for the offensive nature of these materials, and are disappointed that they appeared at all.”

Reebok - Cheat on your boyfriend, not your workout.

Hmmm… I’d say too little, too late. How about “Cheat on Tacos, not your workout” or “Cheat in Poker, not your workout”? Really, they had a million other things they could choose to recommend you cheat on. I’m much more a fan of “Cheat on your workout, not your boyfriend”.




Let’s end on a good note. Here’s my absolute favorite ad of 2012.

WINNER: Dollar Shave Club

Of all the witty, high quality, genius ads that make a mark on filmmaking and advertising in general, this ad is by far my favorite commercial since Doritos at the Superbowl. This is how commercials should be done.


So, what’s your favorite ‘worst ad’? Share and comment below!


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