Since the dawn of advertising, there have always been some head-scratchers, though some of the strangest commercials turned out to be the most popular.
Thanks to a habit of getting sucked into rerun marathons on certain cable channels, I’ve noticed some current campaigns that make me feel like the marketing departments of their respective companies owe me a personal apology. Instead of enticing me to support their product, I want nothing more than to walk into their corporate headquarters and demand, ‘WTF, guys?’
1. The Dominos Rebrand
Whoever is managing the Dominos campaign is the worst offender. I want to know who had the bright idea to relaunch a massive franchise by reminding everyone just how terrible their food was. This was the extent of their commercials: ‘Hey, remember how much we used to suck? Well, we changed everything about ourselves (even though we didn’t really want to) because you said so, and now we’re really, really good.’ And as if that wasn’t bad enough, they then decided to go into the food dictatorship business with their ‘artisan pizzas.’
The ads bash you over the head with the fact that there are NO SUBSTITUTIONS. NONE. NEVER. DOMINOS CHEFS ARE ARTISTES. Except that no one wants to be bossed around by ‘Our 30 Minutes or Less Offer Caused Traffic Accidents.’ They aren’t a five-star restaurant owned by a celebrity chef. If I were to order from Dominos because somehow they did manage to convince me that their horribleness was all in the past, I would still want to get whatever it was I wanted on my pizza. When did pizza become The Man?
2. Dr. Pepper 10 – ‘Not for Women’
In another set of achingly stupid commercials, Dr. Pepper 10 would like to make it known that their diet soda is way too macho and manly for a weak little woman to drink. Explosions! ATVs in the mud! Guns! Man stuff! Women drink this and die!
I understand trying to hit your target market with a particular slant, but throwing something that utterly moronic and sexist onto the airwaves in 2012 makes me think that they hired the characters from Mad Men to draft it. Because it’s not like the commercial just said, ‘This is a man’s soda,’ or ‘Not your old lady’s soft drink,’ they actually went out of their way to shout NOT FOR WOMEN. I guess I know what’s on tap at the He-Man Woman-Haters Club.
3. Tampax? Kotex? Midol? Pamprin? – ‘You Don’t Have to Stand for This’
Honestly, I can’t even remember what this commercial was selling. It just stuck with me because it starts with some jerk yelling at a waitress, and some women tell her, ‘You don’t have to stand for this.’ Only instead of a PSA about sexual harassment in the workplace, the sharply dressed guardian angels just want to help the poor waitress with her ‘lady problems.’ It’s an ad for pads, or Midol, or feminine itch, or something stupid with the best message: don’t worry about misogynist supervisors, ladies, if you’re wearing your comfy tampons you can handle anything.
4. Cialis – ‘Be Ready Any Time’
Erectile dysfunction commercials are notoriously awful, so the only reason I’m including this one on the list is that after however many years, Cialis still has not gotten the memo that those stupid his and hers claw-footed bathtubs on the cliff raise too many questions. If using the product will result in sex, why are there separate tubs? Who dragged those monstrosities to the bluffs or the beach? Who bathes outside in this day and age? Obviously I’m not the target audience, but I find those commercials really frustrating, mostly because I just imagine the pitch meeting went something like this: “So we want to create a relaxed atmosphere, put everyone at ease – bathtubs! Outdoors! I’m a genius!”
5. Summer’s Eve – ‘Hail to the V’
Worship your lady parts, everyone. Summer’s Eve wants to sell you something without having to come right out and tell you what it is, because that would be indelicate. And women, despite being the possessors of “the most powerful thing on earth” are fragile flowers. This ‘cleansing wash’ commercial should just say, “Vagina, vagina, vagina.” Though maybe that would summon one in your home. And I think I just figured out why people were banned from saying the word on the Michigan House floor.
An honorable mention should go to Quilted Northern’s ‘It’s time to get real about what happens in the bathroom’ marketing strategy. It doesn’t get much more real than the bathroom, people. Leave it alone.