10 Ads I Hated

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1. John Kerry

Shrum Devine Donilon and Squier Knapp Dunn, Washington, D.C.

Let's see. George Bush created crippling deficits and abridged civil liberties on the path to a catastrophic war that has created enemies worldwide. And Kerry lost. A lot of blame goes to his ads, which neither established him as a leader nor exploited the president's glaring vulnerabilities.

2. Swift Boat Vets for Truth

Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, Alexandria, Va.

The classic smear, GOP partisans spinning revisionist history and accusing decorated veteran John Kerry of treason for the crime of wartime dissent. Their rationale: Kerry's testimony about war crimes gave aid and comfort to the enemy. A compelling point, the solution for which would be not to commit war crimes.

3. Coloradans for Plain Talk

Northwoods Advertising, Minneapolis

Witness the state of political advertising in America. Image: a body resting in a coffin. Approaching: a look-alike of Republican Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave. Voice-over: When she was a state legislator, Musgrave voted for a bill that would have permitted nursing homes to bill for patient costs after death. Whereupon the look-alike removes the dead man's jewelry.

4. Quizno's

Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.

"Stop-action animated dead vermin. To sell sandwiches," we wrote. "And they're going to work. Will [the campaign] implant disturbing associations about, say, mouse droppings in a food establishment? Maybe. ... But we don't believe many will take this exercise in absurdity so literally." The target teens indeed grooved. Everyone else gagged.

5. Bob Dylan

Victoria's Secret, in-house

One of the most repulsive matches of celebrity and product in advertising history, Dylan sauntered into a Venice ballroom making goo-goo eyes at a winged lingerie model. "I'm sick of love," he sang. "I wish I'd never met you." And we're like, "us, too."

6. Columbia Pictures

`Spider-Man' promo, McCann Erickson

The major leagues as bagmen for Hollywood. Repulsive. Movie ads on the bases not only threatened the last surviving link to baseball's pastoral roots, but flaunted the very commercial aspect of the game fans most resent. Some places are too sacred to be sullied. The altar is one. The coffin is another. And so is the diamond.

7. Gillette

BBDO, New York

The Super Bowl ad for the latest razor, Mach 8, or whatever. If you shave with it, see, you develop savoir-faire. According to the disembodied voice, a Gillette razor is "like having an angel by your side," which is a peculiar claim, because if anyone did have such heavenly assistance, one would be an idiot to waste it on depilation.

8. Hangin' with Ronald

Leo Burnett, Chicago

Ronald McDonald as a rocker. He bangs on rhythm guitar, frolics, makes fans swoon. He even inexplicably dunks basketballs with Yao Ming. Either this was a pitiful attempt to court tweens, or someone hasn't noticed Ronald is a clown. A CLOWN. WITH GIANT RED SHOES. He therefore cannot simultaneously be cool, much less a hottie. There are no clown hotties.

9. Wendy's

McCann Erickson, New York

"Mr. Wendy" was an "unofficial spokesperson," an enthusiastic John the Baptist of saturated fat. Not a bad idea, but so amateurishly executed as to suffocate the joke-and the audience-with bad acting and writing. Now Wendy's is reduced to resurrecting the late Dave Thomas's smiling still image. Can it be long before the Ghost of Burgers Past returns, walking and talking, to restore Wendy's soul?

10. SubservientChicken.com

Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami

Here's the kind of guy we are. We're the kind of guy who, when we see an ad promoting a chicken sandwich, we'd like to know it's an ad promoting a chicken sandwich. Or at least we'd like to know who the advertiser is. This Web site is so busy being hilarious and cool, it neglects to actually advertise.

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