The Worst TV Adverts Ever

AdTurds was three recently, so I thought I’d better mark the occasion. I thought about mocking up an award of an actual turd – yer genuine Dirty Fido – and sticking it on a plinth, then going to the headquarters of not just the creative agencies, but the companies in question and presenting them there with a gong for making the worst TV adverts ever.

Then I realised I didn’t have the time, money, inclination or Channel 4 camera crew – to follow me around filming me failing to gain access to even the lift of those outfits before being ejected by security – to make such an endeavour worthwhile.

worst tv adverts ever

So I created an overview of the worst tv adverts that have been on the television since AdTurds hit the web. The ones that infuriate me; the ones I think are kinda despicable; the ones I simply think are total shit.

These are they. Feel free to add any you think I’ve missed. But they must be the absolute nadir. The ones that have you reaching for the remote, for ear plugs, for that loaded Smith and Wesson you just know is in your desk upstairs, next to the half-empty bottle of scotch…

The worst tv adverts ever

Confused.com

The motherload. A series of adverts pulling every trick out of the bag – including what appears to be sexual molestation in its most recent ad – to make you sad, angry or possibly even dead.

The CIA used to blast horrible noises – rabbits being tortured and the like – at South American socialists; understanding that hideous, repetitive noises can be useful in driving people legitimately out of their minds.

It revived that trick when torturing Guantanamo detainees, using a mindless nursery rhyme to send prisoners round the bend until they started babbling a load of made-up nonsense just to make it stop.

That’s what Confused.com does with its adverts. Only there is no end to it. If you use their service the adverts do not stop. Imagine being tortured. Imagine that, in an effort to make the torture stop you complied with the wishes of those inflicting pain on you. And then imagine that they keep torturing you anyway.

That’s what Confused.com does with its adverts. They may be non-lethal weapons. But have you ever taken a Taser hit? They’re non-lethal too.

Read the collected Confused.com AdTurds

Worst TV adverts ever

Cillit Bang

The original in the mind-drilling adverts that have exploded over the last ten years. Barry Scott. What a cunt.

Read the original Cillit Bang AdTurds


We Buy Any Car

Needless to say, this is an advert on a parallel with a binbag full of festering food remains and cat litter tray content bursting all over your freshly hoovered and washed kitchen floor. Then you fall over in the shit, get some in your eyes and mouth; stand up; slip on it again; bash your head on the corner of a work surface and die.

It’s all of that. But I think it’s how awful WeBuyAnyCar is in other respects that elevates it so:

Knowledge is power.

Read the original WeBuyAnyCar AdTurd


Duffy Coke ad

An advert so ill-conceived, so smug, so meaningless and so utterly dire that it killed Duffy’s career stone dead.

In fact it was so bad that the fallout also killed Keith Duffy’s career stone dead – and he had nothing to do with it.

Read the original Duffy Coke AdTurd


Haribo

Try-hard stupidity tooth-rot misadventure.

Read the original Haribo AdTurd and the post on Haribo winning the public vote to be crowned worst advert of 2011.


BMW

BMW has a little bit of a brand problem – the public think they’re cars bought by dicks. And while that may not be true it’s not something you want to court. Why, then, show off two people who seem photo-fit descriptions of the word ‘dick’, smugging on about their brilliant lives?

A quite astonishing brand misfire.

Read the original BMW Lunds AdTurd


Iceland

Bad for a long, long time now – but who was your least favourite front person? Katona? Biggins? Donovan? Or Stacey Solomabs (as she’s know by several AdTurds readers)?

For me Donovan was the front-man for the most offensive of the lot – an insane trip-fuelled odyssey through a nightmarish Lynchian world that provided an insight into what it might be like to experience a particularly vicious acid-induced mania. Genuinely hellish.

Read the original Iceland / Donovan AdTurd


BT

Kris Marshall never seemed a particularly charming feller to me – before the BT adverts he was chiefly known as a man who played an absolute bell-end in vile sitcom My Family. So, what better person to front your new, decades-long TV ad campaign?

Not only is the unlovely Marshall fronting these ads – he’s pitched into a baffling, awkward step-family situation that someone at an ad agency obviously thought would be a neat reaction to the decline of the nuclear family. The end result is an advert that even nuns despise.

Read the original BT AdTurd


Wonga.com

This is another company that I have a beef with, for what it does as well as how awful its adverts are. Hyper superannuated LOL! puppets playing techno and saying stupid things go some way to highlighting Wonga’s target demographic.

Depressing all round.

Read the original Wonga.com AdTurd


British Airways

Fuck off you knob-ends.

Read the original British Airways AdTurds


Gillette

Has anyone, anywhere ever welcomed someone noisily and aggressively interrupting a quiet moment that requires some level of concentration? The shock itself of a sudden loud noise, coupled with a group of people rushing towards you is enough to drive one to unthinking violence. But then it gets far worse – a little turd starts patronising you about your grooming rituals.

I’d like to see other private moments interrupted in this way in adverts. Perhaps someone on the bog, cracking one out in a shower – or balls deep in the missus perhaps?

“Woo! Hello buddy – how’s your sex? Have you heard of Yorkshire Tea?”

Read the original Gillette Proglide AdTurd


Barclays

It might be because Barclays spends so much time on making its rich clients even richer by locating arcane and unlikely tax loopholes that mean these people – people who have so much cash they literally shit it – can avoid paying taxes. Taxes spent on things like, oh, the NHS, schools and Portcullis House fig trees.

But it could also be these adverts, voiced by Stephen Merchant, that have been making people groan with the sort of nausea one associates with a migraine. The unwelcome, undeserved smugness of someone who doesn’t know everyone hates them – precisely for being smug.

Read the original Barclays / Merchant AdTurd


Safestyle

The mullet, the shouting, the grin. Someone is going to Hell for this – with any luck the bloke in the adverts. Truly one of the worst tv adverts ever.

Read the original Safestyle AdTurd


VanCompare

Cut almost from the same cloth is VanCompare’s pitiful effort from a couple of years ago – the original write-up of which resulted in a torrent of hilarious abuse from idiot Sweet fans.

I made it up with VanCompare’s CEO in the end – but this effort featuring The Sweet’s Andy Scott remains possibly the most inept advert to grace TV screens for some decades.

Read the original VanCompare AdTurd


Halifax

Halifax has been annoying you for at least ten years now, first with its idiotic staff karaoke, then with its quite hideous radio station series.

Halifax has dialled it back to a mere ten from that high point, but its choir adverts remain a thorn in the side of any sane TV viewers.

NB. This advert – of all the adverts on this site – is the one most frequently associated with the word ‘kill’ in comments and search queries.

Read the original Halifax Isa Isa Baby AdTurd


Boots

In the same way that air-raid sirens once signalled imminent disaster, the rat-a-tat-tat beat of Here Come The Girls now heralds one of the most debilitating series of adverts to ever grace television. Stick on a tin hat, head down to the Anderson shelter and await faceless death from above.

Watch the original Boots AdTurd


Littlewoods

Killing Santa and replacing him with a credit card. Genuinely nasty.

Now give me your worst tv adverts ever

Vote below for your worst tv adverts ever below.

The worst advert of 2011: Results

Haribo then. It had to be really, even with the incredibly strong late challenge put up by Littlewoods (undoubtedly the worst Christmas ad of the year), who couldn’t really have done any more to win the title of Worst Advert of 2011 if it had executed an old man in a Santa outfit live on air.

Haribo. It sounds like it stands for something. Ha-ve R-ubberI-sed Bo-ogers? Thinking on, that seems unlikely but it may as well as far as I’m concerned, it may as well. I hate Haribo, I think the sweets are horrible. But I hate their 2011 Supermix advert more for all the same reasons. Gooey, overly sweet, artificial and indigestible.

The Drum asked Haribo exactly what they were playing at with the Supermix advert, to which they replied with the following:

“The new advert is certainly attracting a great deal of attention. We intended that it would be a fun, memorable and catchy karaoke style sing-along, which is exactly what it is.

Let’s examine this statement. The advert, Haribo concedes, is attracting “a great deal of attention”.

That’s a fairly coy statement in relation to the torrent of hate the ad generated, including a staggering 1,849 dislikes on Youtube, dwarfing ‘likes’ by around six-to-one. The average ratio of likes to dislikes is around 20-to-one on video channels.

There’s at least three Facebook groups set up to disparage the advert. A forum called Britain’s Biggest Cunts has a section on the ad called Haribo Chewing Cunts. It certainly seems reasonable to suggest that the advert is attracting a great deal of attention.

What next? Well, agency TBC Inc says it’s a “fun, memorable and catchy karaoke style sing-along”. Memorable and catchy? Yup – in the same way that a particularly unpleasant dose of dysentery is memorable and easy to catch.

Karaoke-style singalong? Well, if it was a particularly hellish karaoke in a David Lynch nightmare, perhaps.

“Haribo is a family brand and we have a mass market audience and appeal, at the heart of everything we do is fun, whether that’s tongue in cheek or playful.”

At this point I could mention the allegations, levelled at Haribo, of using forced Jewish slave labour during the Second World War but that would be a bit crass.

Does this have mass-market appeal? It’s certainly on the radar of a lot of people, but whether putting out an advert that’s universally despised is good marketing is a moot point (and one I’ve mused on before here).

What’s more interesting is whether this is supposed to be “playful or tongue-in-cheek”. Which is it? The former, an earnest attempt to make something ‘playful’? Or the latter, a deliberate attempt to make something awful? I’m plumping for the latter as I don’t believe even the most simple-minded savant could feasibly come up with something as artless as this.

What is more interesting than the ad itself is what happened to it. All of a sudden it was missing from the schedules and the previous ad – Interrogation – was back on the telly.

Did Haribo decide, all of a sudden, that their karaoke-style singalong was not just annoying the very tits off people, those tits were orbiting the Earth at a very high level of the atmosphere, as far distant from their owners as Haribo sweets are from being delicious sugary treats? Surely not something so fun and playful? Who’s to say.

Suffice to say I thought it hideous – adverts that set out to put me in a bad mood frequently make me feel that way. It’s nauseating, bizarre, shrill and – worst of all -affected.

Yes, I think it’s the fact that this is all so arch and post-modern and deliberately inane that makes it so terrible. I thought some of this year’s worst ads were more egregious on an aesthetic level – and others more misguided – but certainly this is the most purely annoying.

Don’t take my word for it though – Haribo was streets ahead of its nearest competitor, in numerical terms, by the end of the vote despite duking it out with Littlewoods for a while.

AdTurds readers have spoken – and they have spoken of their displeasure at “Oh so smooth, love them soft” (an I didn’t even get around to those vile pornographic subtexts).

Internet justice – the most useless, fulminating, empty, unreasoning and fleetingly-satisfying justice of all – has been delivered. Fuck you, Haribo. Fuck you all the way to Hades.

Now let us never speak of it again.

Read the original Haribo AdTurd

The rest of 2011

Littlewoods gave Haribo a great run for its money, as did Gillette, which kept falling away then regaining lost ground. I suspect that little man’s voice from the latter, reverberating around living rooms, became something of a Pavlovian stimulus to many over the year.

Further down were Wonga.com – a particular dislike of mine – perennial overachievers Halifax and Marks and Spencer for its X-Factor ad. I didn’t dislike the latter that much, but I thought it a terrible idea. I’m still surprised that it registered so highly though.

Confused.com’s horrible adverts were next up – and then the BMW Lund one, which were probably the genuine worst adverts of the year for money, in terms of what I reckon they did for the brand.

All the others got a good few votes each, apart from Eurostar with a single vote.

‘Others’ – for there was the opportunity to vote for one’s own bete noir – did pretty well too, with quite a few suggestions. Go Compare fared well here, as did a late run for the Argos alien sperms – along with a couple of others such as Pepsi Max that has somehow escaped me over the year.

Still, a new year and all that. I can barely wait to be irritated by an all-new crop in 2012. Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Other choices

Go Compare
Compare the Market
Head and Shoulders / Jenson Button
Cadbury Dairy Milk – The Final Countdown
Pepsi Max Office Men
Mazuma Mobile advert from March/April
Game – Babies
j20 glitter berry camp lock-in
argos
Lynx
Boots “Here Comes The Girls”
Heineken “Bassanova” Utter turd
That PlusNet fat bastard