Picking the five worst ads of 2013 shouldn't be so much fun.
But it is.
Each of these ads rightfully earned this moment of infamy. It's not just that these ads are bad. Each, in its own special way, is a stinker. Some are stupid. Some are gross. Some poke fun at folks whom they shouldn't. Some use unacceptable stereotypes. And virtually all of them insult the intelligence of viewers — even mine.
These picks are the polar opposite of another list I compiled that ranks the Top Five Ads of 2013. That one wasn't nearly so simple to write. Picking the best ads of 2013 required lots of thought. Lots of introspection. And a process of elimination. But picking the five worst ads of 2013 required none of that.
The bottom of the barrel easily rose to the top. I've listed them in descending order, from least worst to most worst.
We excluded political ads because, for the most part, they're all bad. See if one of your least-favorite ads isn't among these bottom five:
5. Kmart: "Ship My Pants" (Draftfcb Chicago) 30 seconds. Never mind that this very same ad is all but destined to appear on the lists that some critics compile for 2013's best ads. After all, it got Kmart back in the news. It propelled the brand's TV and social media exposure. And it woke up a very sleepy brand. Ah, but for all the wrong reasons.
What brand, after all, wants its name to be so indelibly linked with a four-letter word that rhymes with sit? The ad features various Kmart customers crowing over the fact that they can now ship — for free — their pants, drawers, nighties and even beds, if it's not in the store when they shop.
But the many characters in the commercial all speak so fast, it takes keen ears to hear if they're saying "ship" or that other nasty word that rhymes with "sit." And that's the whole joke. Over. And over. And over. Think I'll ship, err, sit, this one out.
4. Hyundai: "Pipejob" (Innocean Europe) 60 seconds. There's absolutely nothing funny about suicide. But in this British ad, which Hyundai and its European agency eventually pulled and both apologized for, suicide is the big punch line. A guy tries to commit suicide by locking himself in his garage with his Hyundai ix35 and breathing in the fumes. What's so funny? Well, it seems the ix35 is a fuel cell car that basically emits water vapor, not carbon monoxide. So the guy doesn't die. He turns off the car and opens his garage door, defeated. That's the big joke. He lived. Worse than bad, this ad is cruel.
3. Poo-Pourri: "Girls Don't Poop" (The Harmon Bros.) 2:15. This ad is literally a stinker. It's for an honest-to-goodness product that folks are advised to spray in the toilet, before they poop, so they don't stink-up the joint. As wacky as the product itself sounds, well, the ad for it is even worse. It features a sprite, well-dressed young woman with a bit of a British accent, sitting (legs spread) on the toilet, bragging about the unique ability of Poo-Pourri to mask the stink that she's just made. Ick.
The ad begins with the sound of the toilet flushing as she brags, "You would not believe the mother lode I just dropped." How quaint. Makes you really want to listen further, no? A handy-dandy, animated visual in the ad even shows the image of a stool plopping into a bowl that's pre-sprayed with the stuff. Oh, did we forget to mention the "stink free" money-back guarantee that the ad promises? In a nation of wacky products, maybe there's room for Poo-Pourri somewhere in the marketplace. But nowhere, in a civilized society, is there room for this ad.
Best and Worst commercials of the year - Girls Don't Poop - PooPourri.com
2. Mountain Dew "Line Up" (Tyler, The Creator) 60 seconds. Every bad ad needs a goat. No, not just the naughty goat that actually appears in this ad, but a scapegoat. Mountain Dew ultimately had no one else to blame, so it finally blamed itself when it pulled this offensive ad with a tweet that said, in part, "Made a big mistake." That's an understatement. The ad features three, sinister-looking African-American guys — and a tough-talking goat — in a police lineup. With that imagery, some talking heads on cable TV speculated if it was the most racist ad, ever. Ouch.
Not exactly the perfect image that the coolest-of-cool soft drinks wants to feed to its Millennial target. Just as bad, a woman whom the goat has apparently beaten up — and whose job is to identify the suspect in the line-up — is swayed by the goat's threats of even more violence. "Snitches get stitches," the goat goads her. This ad is offensive on so many levels that it's hard to count them all. It's racist. It's sexist. And it's dumb. If ever there were an ad that should never have been made, this is probably it. In act of saving grace, the goat should have mercifully eaten this ad before it aired.
1. GoDaddy "Perfect Match" (Deutsch, New York) 30 seconds. The best television commercials — particularly the best Super Bowl advertisements — should be loads of fun to watch. So much fun, in fact, that after you've seen them once, you want to see them again and again. This one, however, is incredibly hard to watch — the first time. It features a supermodel (Bar Refaeli), who represents the "sexy" side of GoDaddy, and a geeky guy (referred to in the ad as Walter), who represents the techy side. She looks gorgeous in her low-cut, pink dress and matching shoes. He looks totally nerdy in his white shirt, crooked tie and glasses. And then, they kiss. The mismatched couple spend about 13 seconds of the spot embraced in a ultra-close-up kiss. But you don't just see the kiss. You hear it, too. In fact, that's all you hear for way, way too many uncomfortable seconds.
The issue isn't that Walter looks goofy or that Bar looks beautiful. The issue is the utterly forced nature of this marathon kiss. It looks and sounds yucky. When the commercial mercifully ends, Bar looks beat and Walter looks weary. So how's the poor Super Bowl viewer watching the ad supposed to feel? The ad ranked dead last in 2013's USA TODAY Super Bowl Ad Meter rankings, far below the rest of the pack. But why limit this to being the worst Super Bowl spot of 2013? It sealed its fate with that kiss: Worst Ad of 2013. Let's shake on it.