Ten ads Garfield hated

By Published on .

1 American Petroleum Institute

(Blue Worldwide, Washington)

With gasoline prices soaring past $3 per gallon and industry leaders hauled before Congress to explain their windfall profits, the API sprang into action. Their message: It's all your fault, for not driving 55 and for failing to drill for oil under, like, the Lincoln Memorial. The message: "We're Big Oil. Feel Free to Continue Hating Us."

Mission accomplished.

2 MoveOnPAC

(Z Creative, New York)

The issue: Democratic filibusters against President Bush's judicial nominees, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was threatening the "nuclear option." MoveOn's solution: demonize him, with burning red eyes and a hooded robe. We can't fault the sentiments, but self-righteousness and ad hominem are incompatible. In the culture wars, you can't claim the high ground while committing character assassination from the gutter.

3 Chrysler

( BBDO, Detroit)

The return of Lee Iacocca! Yeah, it generated some headlines. But seldom has terrible business strategy and terrible advertising converged so completely. Co-star Jason Alexander was wrong because his rip-off of himself was even worse here than it was in the KFC campaign (if that's possible), and Iacocca was wrong because his very appearance shouted: "Desperation!" Which, at least, in the midst of suicidal employee-discount pricing, was truth in advertising.

4 Arnold Bakeries

(Seiter & Miller Advertising, New York)

The artisan baker lovingly crafts his breads. Then, at lunch hour, he makes his own sandwich with ... Arnold! Oh, God, the irony! The hilarity! The commercial was so trite, obvious, amateurish and dumb, we found ourselves reveling in its surpassing awfulness. Without being immoral, offensive or anything unforgivable, it simply-almost majestically-sucked.

5 Bridgestone

(Grey, New York)

Bridgestone sells tires. Good tires last many miles and improve handling, traction and ride. You can also dangle them from a tree for a makeshift swing, or necklace an enemy with a gasoline-filled one, aflame. But contrary to the imagery promulgated in Bridgestone advertising-a hunk and hunkette pawing one another-there is no "sexy tire." Bridgestone cannot get you laid.


(The Helm, New York)

Ever play Mad Libs, where you build funny stories choosing random words? This Super Bowl spot looked like one of those: Gimme a faded Motown icon (Gladys Knight), third-tier sport (rugby) and financial instrument (debit card). String `em together and what do you get? Nothing coherent. By mid-April we realized this was to promote MBNA's varied affinity cards, but meantime we signed on with SunTrust.

7 Snickers

(BBDO, New York)

You should have seen the e-mail exchange on this one. After we panned this campaign about candy bars not being yummy and filling but magically transforming your life ("Stupid. Stupid. Stupid."), an agency creative informed us that AdReview has no respect in the Creative Community. Pity. But not as piteous as blowing $50 million or whatever of your client's money on pointless hyperbole just to get yourself off.

8 Dentyne Fire

( McCann Erickson, New York)

Is Wildmon a small-minded zealot who has made an industry of inciting prigs and pinheads? Yes. Would it be humiliating for us to agree with that demagogue on anything? Yes. But-regarding a chewing-gum ad promoting teen sex-aren't we, as grownups, supposed not to be aiding and abetting in behaviors that lead to underage pregnancy and AIDS, broken hearts and broken lives? Yes.

9 AAA insurance

(BuderEngel & Friends, San Francisco)

Hey, guys! Here's a great idea! We sell property and casualty insurance. Let's spend a fortune on special effects to dramatize how insurance works! We can have a storm just wreak havoc on a residential property, then show our adjuster making it all better! Won't that distinguish us from State Farm and Allstate and Liberty Mutual and every other insurer in the world!

10 Budweiser Select

( DDB, Chicago)

The problem with introducing a new light beer-such as this one with the "crisp, bold taste that finishes clean" -is that it immediately suggests your own segment-leading Bud Light (never mind Michelob Light and Natural Light) has a soggy, timid taste that finishes muddy. Then to launch it on the Super Bowl, already awash in Bud Light ads, is positively cannibalistic.

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