Mark Duffy has written the Copyranter blog for 11 years and is a freelancing copywriter with 25-plus years of experience. His hockey wrist shot is better than yours.
Do you ever see ads outdoors or on TV or online that make you want to throw a forearm shiver right into their face? These ads are different from just plain bad ads. These ads are obnoxious ads, ads that talk to you like you’re a moron, ads that talk to you like they hate you. Punchable ads.
Last week, E*Trade launched a new loathsome campaign (agency: MullenLowe) that makes me want deliver a haymaker right on its stupid asterisk. The ads attempt to make us poors burn with hatred toward the beautiful rich, while also telling us, “Don’t get mad. … Get E*Trade,” while also telling us, not very indirectly, that our lower-class existence sucks.
“Plane Truth” is the worst of the lot:
Our “hero,” getting kicked in the back by a ginger terror, rises and heads to first class. … Why? To politely inquire if any of the more attractive, more moneyed flyers would like to do a complete stranger a solid and instantly pay for his upgrade? Seriously, why would you go stare into first class, like a traveling rube? No matter, the curtains are slammed in his sad-sack face by the model/flight attendant.
“First class is there to remind you that you’re not in first class.” Thanks for that important update, douchebags.
Then, there’s “Hard Work.”
“The harder you work, the nicer the vacation … your boss goes on.” What a pleasant reminder about the depressing state of wages in America. E*Trade’s solution? Gambling — with what little savings we have. Hey, E*Trade CEO Karl Roessner, are you on vacation right now? See all six insulting spots here. (Note: The above “boss” also shows up in the “dumbest guy in high school just bought a yacht” spot. Are they friends? Tsk, tsk, MullenLowe.)
Land Rover, ‘Glide’
Is there any reason I’m watching a rich prick in a Land Rover “race” another rich prick in a glider? Why was this commercial even made? To corner the glider pilot demo? What’s its GODDAMN POINT? I really, really want to know. Agency: in-house.
Barbarian, ‘The Antipinky Pint’
Update: Chilean men who drink beer are “macho.” But even the toughest of hombres can look embarrassingly wimpy? gay? by lifting his pinky finger when macho-ly slamming a brewski. Thankfully, Barbarian brand beer has invented the antipinky pint, “a glass with a ring cast in iron and testosterone … Of the 100 percent of machos who drank Barbarian, 100 percent remained macho.”
It’s open to interpretation if this stunt by DDB Peru is or isn’t homophobic (it is). What’s not open to interpretation is that this stunt is anti-non-idiot.
Road Safety Authority France, ‘The Virtual Crash Billboard’
If this isn’t a scam ad stunt, then it deserves to be not just be punched, but be beaten unconscious. From the agency (Serviceplan, Paris) press note:
“The idea … was to display a specially designed interactive digital billboard near a busy crossing. Equipped with a movement detector, speaker, and camera, the smart billboard made the sound of squealing tires whenever a pedestrian attempted to cross the road while the “red man” was displayed. The frightened faces of the disobedient pedestrians were projected directly onto the billboard … alongside the caption: ‘Don’t look death in the face. Check the lights and cross safely.'”
Yes, this heinous stunt made pedestrians think they were about to be killed! Did any of them have a heart attack? Probably not because this is a fake stunt, and the “pedestrians” are “actors.” Here, the ad, the client and the agency all deserve to be decked.
Online ads need “punch in the face” buttons. Just sayin’.