Ads we hate.

Ads we hate.

Ads we hate.

Advertising deconstructed.
Dec. 28 2009 9:55 AM

Ads We Hate

Slate readers sound off on the year's worst commercials.

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I find the use of the song "If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out" in ads for a smartphone(the T-Mobile My Touch 3G) to be utterly bizarre, since they include the line "If you want to be me, be me." Really? They're saying identity theft is OK with them?—Kevin S.

To me, the amazing thing about this campaign is that it features an endless parade of celebrities—and yet the cumulative star wattage is dimmer than the screen of my smartphone after I've dropped it in a slush puddle. Phil Jackson? Molly Shannon? Dana Carvey? Avril Lavigne? Is there some sort of discount shopper's club where you can hire these folks in bulk, stacked on pallets?


There's an Audi adin which a bunch of kids are coming out of school and looking for their parents to pick them up. The problem is, all the cars lining up for them look exactly alike—beige, SUV-ish, boring. Then the black Audi drives up and the associated kid runs straight to it. I think what the commercial is supposed to be saying is that you should stand out from the crowd by driving this different car. The problem is that to me, the Audi looks exactly like the other cars. Except black. Am I missing something?—Rachel K.

No, Rachel, you're not missing a thing. The ad's tag line refers to the "unmistakable" Audi Q5. But having watched the ad several times, I think I can say with confidence: The Audi that's shown is a monocoque crossover vehicle, and as such is quite easily mistaken for a BMW X5, Acura RDX, Lexus RX, or any of the other many monocoque crossover vehicles lined up in front of that school. (If they're so different, why do they all have 10-point Scrabble letters in their names?) In fact, the spot almost seems like a sly fable—mocking the meaningless consumption-pattern nuances we humans carve out to preserve our illusions of free will. Which is a strange way to sell a compact SUV.

The Gap holiday ad this year—the one in which good-looking people dance around in overpriced skinny jeans and strange-looking hats and sing, "Go Christmas! Go Hanukkah! Go Kwanzaa! Go Solstice!"—is annoying and somewhat offensive. "Happy Dowhateveryouwannukkah"? What does that even mean? The holidays are a time to behave however you wish as long as you wear Gap clothes?—Amanda L.

I'm OK with the spirit of this ad's nondenominational tidings. But I keep imagining the premise of this ad transposed to real life. The notion that a group of adults would dress up in coordinated outfits and perform—with beaming, fresh-scrubbed smiles—a choreographed cheerleading routine to express their extreme fondness for Gap plaid shirts? When they're done rhythmically chanting about retail goods, do these people climb into a fleet of matching Audi Q5's? This sort of thing makes me want to spike my holiday eggnog with a jigger of rum, two jiggers of Abilify, and three jiggers of bleach.

Slate V: Celebrity voiceover quiz! How many can you identify?

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