The Worst Commercials on American TV Right Now

United States Entertainment
by Jason Policastro Aug 6, 2009
You love to hate them. Horrible commercials are all over the tube, inciting anger and making us wonder how someone, somewhere has money in the bank from creating something so awful. Jason Policastro takes a look at some of the current offenders.
Ride Warrior

ROLLER COASTERS ARE TOTALLY EXTREME. If they were trying to capture what it’s like at your standard American amusement park then they should have posted footage of 5000 morbidly obese children standing in line, clutching stuffed Tasmanian Devils and shoving blimp-sized cotton candy clouds down their throats which would later be vomited into their bumper cars.

Instead they went with the “Ride Warrriors”, a focus group-approved collection of racially diverse twenty-something actors who have likely never entered an amusement park in their lives. These buffoons strike tough poses and claim idiotic titles like “The Diva of Drop”.

If any of these actors ever hit it big later in life and look back on this ad, it will be the equivalent of looking at your significant other’s high school yearbook and discovering they were captain of the chess team.

Palm Pre

This is possibly the most maligned ad campaign in recent memory. This series of surreal commercials feature a pale skinned waif who speaks and acts as though she’s been anesthetized.

She rambles inanely about experiences she’s had that compare to the Palm Pre, but her creepy behavior distracts so powerfully from the product that the viewer is left wondering what the hell he just saw.

At times, it feels as though someone is conducting a psychological evaluation of an emotionally disturbed individual, as the sickly looking figure talks to herself and stares into thin air. Naturally, Modernista! (exclamation point!), the ad firm responsible for this garbage, is taking the stance that any buzz is good buzz because you remember the ad. I call this the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder approach to advertising.

Olive Garden

If there was a lifetime achievement award for perennially terrible commercials, I’d be handing it to The Olive Garden. Theirs feature an impossibly jovial bunch of yuppies guffawing over heaps of salad and pasta, supposedly having the time of their lives while delivering one-liners that elicit maniacal laughter from the rest of the table and stone faced silence from the average TV viewer.

The latest masterpiece features a mother and her teenage son “bonding”. In reality, this commercial would feature awkward silence, no eye contact, and a look of resigned disappointment on Mom’s face – but that doesn’t move breadsticks, people!

GM Reinvention

For me, this is easily the most dishonest and offensive of the lot. By filling this piece of drek with inspiring images like sunrises, sports scenes, and waving American flags, GM is assuming that the average viewer has the intellectual maturity of a kindergartener.

It’s as if they think that their years of blocking the electric car, refusal to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles, and otherwise total failure as a company will be forgotten if they show us a football touchdown with a GM logo on it.

The sad part is, the average mouth-breathing TV viewer probably will. The only bright spot here is the corresponding spoof ad that captures my feelings on this trash perfectly.

Progressive Insurance

You know Flo as the gratingly bubbly character on the Progressive Insurance commercials where shoppers browse for insurance in boxes on shelves in an expanse of white space. The wild-eyed Flo sports an unfortunate amount of lipstick and acts as if she’s just drank a case of Red Bull.

I just have to ask: What is the appeal? There are five million different versions of Flo helping out some clueless sod who seems to have never heard of the concept of insurance, lurking about the store as if it were a minefield.

Oh I see – Flo is our obnoxious ambassador in the big scary world of um, purchasing insurance?

McDonald’s McNuggets

Oh, where to begin. McDonald’s continues its proud tradition of racially offensive commercials by creating a love triangle, complete with McNuggets and an R&B song.

Here we have a hungry Romeo pleading to his ladyfriend to share her secret. He asks her if she’s been “dippin” on him. It’s like he’s jealous of her McNuggets tryst one minute, and then wants to join in at the end. One begins to wonder if our protagonist would rather be in bed with the woman or her nuggets. Or both.

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