Quiznos: Singing Kittens
Quiznos made use of rathergood.com’s off-kilter animations for an ad in 2004 that was met with acclaim by Rather Good’s rather cultish following. But they’ve struck a bad note—several bad notes, actually—with their similar Singimals campaign. Even if you can look past the creepy cat-human hybrids, which is frankly a lot to look past, you’re still faced with an off-key, screechy mess of a song.
Geico: Squealing Pig
Speaking of things that will make your ears bleed, Geico’s squealing pig may be the most audibly atrocious ad of all time. Which is a shame because it’s actually a clever riff on the old This Little Piggy rhyme. But in its effort to illustrate how annoying a squealing anthropomorphic pig would be to a carpool mom, the company has created a commercial that’s annoying to anyone with working ears.
Boost Mobile: Pet Carrier
Creepy, when done right, can be good for a commercial. This Snickers Halloween spot is easily one of the year’s best, despite being totally heebie-jeebie inducing. But when creepy goes wrong—think Bing’s search overload pod people—it goes really wrong. And boy, is Boost Mobile’s UNwrong’D campaign the wrong kind of creepy, thanks largely to the dead-around-the-eyes look sported by the actors. Their inexplicably odd delivery somehow manages to trump the weirdness of a kid in a dog carrier.
Axe: Clean Your Balls
Axe drives a double entendre into the ground with this little doozy. It’s guaranteed to cause some squirming if, say, you’ve decided to take in a movie with your parents and find yourself sitting through this commercial not once, not twice, but three times before the previews start. Just saying.
McDonald’s: Don’t Talk to Me
This guy really doesn’t want to be spoken to before he’s had his coffee. How about we all agree to just not speak to him, like, ever?
Jimmy Johnson for ExtenZe
Thank you, ExtenZe, for making everyone take a moment out of their day to think about football coach Jimmy Johnson’s wang. You do, however, get points for finding a pitchman whose name perfectly matches your product.
Staples: Wow! That’s a Low Price!
If you’ve found yourself wondering what Joey Slotnick has been up to lately, well, wonder no more! He and Ben Livingston have apparently been losing their marbles over Staples’ low prices in a commercial that was voted the Worst Ad in America 2010 by Consumerist readers.
Julia Stiles for Stoli
Julia Stiles has always seemed like one of the more together young actresses, nimbly sidestepping the career pitfalls that have plagued her Hollywood peers. Probably because she doesn’t have a habit of going commando and downing 10 tequila shots a night. That’s why it’s such a surprise to see how grating her spot for Stoli is. “Would you have a drink with you?” the ad asks. If “you” is either faux Julia —the sanctimonious, “serious” actress or the materialistic, superficial starlet—the answer is no.
Old Navy: Supermodelquins
AXA Equitable: 800-Pound Gorilla
AXA’s gorilla campaign is the bane of nitpicky linguists everywhere. Somewhere in the ad company’s creative process, it conflated two quite different metaphors: 1) The elephant in the room, which is the obvious thing that is studiously ignored for fear of awkwardness, and 2) The 800-pound gorilla, which can do anything it wants because it’s a freaking 800-pound gorilla. Instead, AXA presents the 800-pound gorilla that is studiously ignored by people who don’t want to think about their retirement savings. Sloppy wordplay like this is how abominations like “refudiate” and “ misunderestimate” end up entering the lexicon permanently.
Ford Fiesta: Big Deal
Warning: Watch this commercial once and prepare to have the song stuck in your head for eternity. Beyond that, it’s really just the whimsy overload that lands it on the instant TiVo fast-forward list.
The Cosmopolitan: Just the Right Amount of Wrong
This spot for The Cosmopolitan Hotel of Las Vegas is slickly filmed and features catchy music and intriguing visuals. So the annoyance factor is really only present for people who spend way, way too much time overthinking things and looking for logical narrative in a freaking television commercial when really it’s just pure fun to see the adorable animals romping with the debauched hotel clientele. That being said, the commercial does raise at least one nagging question: What exactly could that poor rabbit have done to get exiled from the Fellini-esqe orgy?
Shannon Donnelly is a video editor at The Daily Beast. Previously, she interned at Gawker and Overlook Press, edited the 2007 edition of Inside New York, and graduated from Columbia University. You can read more of her writing here.