Ads We Hate
Slate readers on the most stupid, annoying, and wrongheaded commercials on television.
I now instinctively shy away from "deluxe" menu options out of fear that I'll receive a 7,500-calorie heap of ground beef, mayonnaise, and bacon gristle. The Friendly's near me has begun offering a "Grilled Cheese BurgerMelt," which replaces the buns of an ordinary burger with two grilled-cheese sandwiches. I guess what I'm saying is: You're right, Dan, the problem with fast food meals labeled "deluxe" is rarely a lack of caloric abundance. Wendy's would have been wiser to emphasize low prices, as overflowing portions seem to be a given.
I'd like to nominate an ad for worst of the year. I just saw it, and all I could do was watch with disbelief, then horror, and then back to disbelief. It's for limited edition Huggies jeans diapers—they're supposed to look like denim, but the effect in the ad is that a toddler is walking around in Daisy Dukes. The announcer says, "I poo in blue," and the slogan is, "The coolest you'll look pooping your pants."—Elly T.
As best I can tell, this ad is real. It's unclear whether Huggies was inspired by the Saturday Night Live parody commercial for Huggies thongs. It's also unclear who thought it was a great idea to make an ad in which the theme is people ogling toddlers' buttocks and groins. But in a world that tolerates jorts, I guess jiapers were inevitable.
That Kay Jewelers ad with the couple in the log cabin, taking shelter from the storm, is more than a little creepy. "I'm right here. And I always will be." Are they targeting possessive male stalkers or pathologically submissive women?—Mac M.
It does seem as if someone on the set of this ad should have encouraged that fellow to ditch his hyper-intense monotone. It's chilling. The ad conjures a jailer-detainee mood, out in that isolated cabin. "Now you can surround her with the strength of your love," says the announcer, while computer graphics show the necklace transforming into giant, encircling metal restraints.
As for the subtext: Diamond sellers generally pitch noncorporeal permanence. Consider DeBeers' long-running slogan, "A Diamond Is Forever" and the ethereal shadow figures in its ads. When the man in this Kay ad promises he "always will be" here, the camera cuts away from his face to instead focus on the shiny bauble he holds in his hands. Our subconscious hope is that these precious gems will serve as eternal vessels for our emotions, retaining the love we express through them inside their impregnable shells long after our bodies have disintegrated. "Don't let go, ever," pleads the woman as she clasps her new necklace. If only her creepy man could keep that promise into the beyond.
And with that, I'm stepping away from Ad Report Card for a year to go enrich my mind. Slate's excellent John Swansburg will be taking the reins while I'm away. I hope you'll treat him as fabulously as you've always treated me, and will flood him with your thoughts, questions, and angry rants about advertising. Send your comments to email@example.com.
Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.