Book of Tens: Ads Garfield Scorned in 2009

By Published on .

Book of Tens: Bob Garfield

TELEFLORA
(IN-HOUSE)
The ugliest Super Bowl ad. To dramatize the risk of sending nasty flowers hidden in a box, Teleflora's box of talking flowers ridiculed a plain-Jane office worker. "Oh, no, look at the mug on you, Diane. You're a train wreck! That's why he sent only a box of flowers. Go home to your romance novels and your fat, smelly cat." Who cares what they were getting at? Never mind "lookist," this was childish and cruel.
NOT FOR PREROLLS

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AT&T
( BBDO, NEW YORK)
Losing a battle with Verizon about 3G coverage, AT&T resorted to intentionally confusing the consumer with ads touting its (irrelevant to those with poor coverage) 3G "experience," and its broad NON-3G coverage. They presented this as the reply to Verizon's perfectly valid claim, but it was utter misdirection reminiscent of sleazy political attacks ads. Luke Wilson (speaking of irrelevant) and BBDO embarrassed themselves.

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CHILI'S
(HILL HOLIDAY, BOSTON)
Hey, here's an idea for selling restaurant meals: Don't intentionally make the ads nauseating. Yet this was precisely what Chili's did by caricaturing the casual-dining competition as a grossly unappetizing competitor called P.J. Bland's. ("At P.J. Bland's, we believe that if you're hungry enough, you'll eat absolutely anything.") The fictional entrees are made of corrugated cardboard and everything in sight is tan. Literally disgusting.

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NEW YORK CITY DEPT. OF HEALTH
(IN-HOUSE)
While we're on the subject of intentionally nauseating the audience, New York officials were so worried about excessive sugar consumption that they decided to make New Yorkers aware of the health consequences of soda-pop calories. Fine so far. But what justified sickening subway riders with images of human fat being poured over ice? This was advertising intrusiveness in the worst sense, and also irresponsibly repulsive.

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HARRY AND LOUISE
GODDARD CLAUSSEN, WASHINGTON, D.C.)
In the first Clinton term, the fictional Harry and Louise oversimplified health-care reform issues and talked down to senior Americans on behalf of anti-reform sophists, in the style of those disgraceful Colonial Penn insurance pitches to the frightened elderly. But how far we've come! This time Harry and Louise are oversimplifying and condescending for pro-health-care-reform sophists. Don't let your daughter marry a political consultant.

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MIRACLE WHIP
(MCGARRY BOWEN, CHICAGO)
"We will not be quiet! We will not try to blend in, disappear in the background, play second fiddle! We're not like the others; we won't ever try to be! And we will not tone it down!" Really? Looks as if the revolution will not be mayonnaised. Credit Kraft for trying to inject some youthful currency into a symbol of middle-American d�class�, but c'mon. If Miracle Whip symbolizes generational defiance, Cheese Whiz is a WMD.

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CAYMAN WENT
(CHOWDER)
This was a full-length movie, an exercise in branded content for the client, Grand Cayman Island. The title is super clever, and the director stayed true to plot and character (such as they are), vs. turning out an awkward, obnoxious, plug-riddled 90-minute infomercial for the island. Bravo for the restraint. But AdReview may be the only human soul who watched the movie, and the world will be no lesser for it.

LEVI'S
(WIEDEN & KENNEDY, PORTLAND, ORE.)
Vintage film, Walt Whitman's voice from wax recordings. Striking language of admonition ("Go forth!"). A magnificent production -- to a fault. It's too cleverly manufactured, too pompous, too precious. As one reader commented in response to our AdReview: "I think what you begin to describe as 'an exquisitely wrought example of design, language, mood and spirit,' could more simply be described as 'empty virtuosity.'"
NOT FOR PREROLLS

HP
(GOODBY, SILVERSTEIN & PARTNERS, SAN FRANCISCO)
HP has fared rather well with its celebrity approach to showing technology integrating with life -- Gwen Stefani, Fergie, et al. But this spot with hoopster Kevin Garnett is just awful on almost every count. It spends the vast majority of its 30 seconds trying (awkwardly) to link KG to personal computing and only in the last three seconds mentions the newsworthy selling point: ultrathin. That is ultralazy and ultrastupid.
NOT FOR PREROLLS

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SHREDDED WHEAT
(OGILVY, NEW YORK)
Yeah, old-and-unimproved is a brilliant positioning, owing largely to its transcendent simplicity in a world of gathering complexity. So why in the world would you clutter up the simple concept with tons of overwrought jabber and distracting stage movement from an (intentionally, supposedly comically) overbearing talking head? A sign of the times: defaulting towards post-modern irony. So unnecessary. And simply wrong.


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