5 Worst Ads of 2008 (so far, give or take)
Ian Lurie Jun 30 2008
Many bloggers try to take the high road, avoiding mocking the work of others. I have no such reservations.
My creative lead pointed out that 2008 has, so far, been a truly great year for godawful advertising. So I’m stepping away from internet marketing for a moment to bring you the worst 5 ads of the year (and maybe of late 2007):
Number 5: WAMU Wahoo!
Anyone remember this one? Probably not, since it was immediately buried in a wave of layoffs and horrific financials. But it’s painful nonetheless.
I hope WAMU’s CMO, if they have one, is either hiding her head in shame or looking for a new job after this beaut.
The motto manages to be uninformative yet easy to mock while insulting the intended audience (generation Y) at the same time. Good job guys!
Number 4: McDonalds Iced Espresso: Cold, not Snobby
Oooooh, I get it. You’re telling me that going into a filthy fast food restaurant to get my coffee means I’m not a snob. Got it! Hahahahahahah! You guys made a funny!
McDonalds invested who-knows-how-much to get this great motto: “Cold, not snobby”. Then they built a nice, slow-loading Flash site to remind you what going to McDonalds is really like.
I thought their early coffee ads were pretty clever. But “cold, not snobby” allows so many interpretations you have to wonder if their marketing team dropped acid before their brainstorming session.
Number 3: Enfatico’s Self-Promotional Ad
Enfatico, the ad agency created by WPP to serve Dell and only Dell, launched an ad promoting themselves before their first Dell pieces went public.
If you’re only working for Dell, why do you need to advertise?
And won’t your client be a teensy bit mad when they realize that, instead of working on their stuff, you were creating your own?
This one didn’t make my list for being lousy. It made my list for displaying bad judgment matched only by Donald Rummsfeld saying “stuff happens”.
Number 2: Tukwila Life!
If you don’t live in Seattle, you don’t get the joke, but trust me, it’s funny.
My company is actually located in Tukwila, and it’s not a bad place.
But in trying to promote its centennial, the city hired some unknown ad expert to come up with the brilliant motto “Tukwila Life!”
Tukwila is 90% shopping mall, 10% river and greenspace. It’s a great place to have an office.
But yelling “Tukwila Life” is like me yelling “Six pack abs!”. It’s so far from the truth that I’m just embarrassing myself.
Better luck next time, guys.
Number 1: Say WA
This is from last year, I’ll admit, but it will probably win for the next decade.
The state of Washington paid Foote Cone & Belding some ungodly amount of money to develop a new motto and campaign for the state.
The result? Say WA
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? DID YOU GUYS LOSE YOUR FREAKING MINDS? SAY WA?
Even worse, the state then used the tag line, realizing how utterly moronic it sounded only after the tourism board said “Hey, the emperor’s buck naked!”.
Now we have ‘Metronatural’, which while more obscure is still embarrassing. So this campaign is crap squared, and therefore wins.
Got any other horrible ad campaigns to add to the list?
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More