Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Dumbest Ad Campaign of 2005

It took incredibly sophisticated "two-stroke" technology
to win 2005's hotly contested advertising competition.

ADAM.32.1-12. For most of the year, we thought the prestigious InstaPunk Award for Dumbest Ad Campaign was going to be a tortoise race among three exceptionally tedious competitors. Capital One's annoying series of David Spade ads featuring Three Stooges style physical comedy was an obvious contender. So was that endlessly replayed single ad for Paradise Lines about commoners who couldn't seem to recover from the glamor of the sardine-like accommodations on a 5,000-passenger cruise ship. (We wanted to kill all those people. Seriously.) And then there was the financial services company campaign in which investment advisers grafted themselves so closely to families that they delivered more tearful toasts than the father of the bride and louder cheers on the sidelines than the biological soccer mom. (We cringed every time and still haven't the slightest recollection of whose ad it is.)

Month after month, these three outstripped everyone else in their capacity to inspire headshaking disbelief. Suddenly, though, at the eleventh hour of 2005, several other challengers have exploded on the scene -- hares running a brilliant sprint to overtake the leaden Big Three.

Anyone who buys light bulbs can't help but be impressed by the shocking nerve of Sylvania's new capaign about the long-term reliability of its automotive headlights. It's not bad enough that Sylvania (and let's not forget GE) makes millions and millions of dollars selling us light bulbs that burn out in two or three weeks of ordinary use. Now they want to let us know, in no uncertain terms, that they really do know how to make long-lasting light products. When they want to. If they feel like it. Dumb.

But what's faster than a car daring to trust Sylvania quality control in the dead of night? Why, a speeding train, of course. The  Molsen-Coors Company is now advertising its Coors Light product with a silver bullet train making tracks through the entire history of the Super Bowl, as if images of the Lombardi Packers, the Steel Curtain, the perfect 17-0 Dolphin team, and Ditka's Monsters of the Midway could somehow endow the world's worst, weakest, pissiest beer with balls. Really dumb.

The race ain't over yet, though. How do you blow the doors off a bullet train? One word: Jets!

Born from Jets!

Oh those Europeans. There we were, thinking this was going to be an All-American competition to reassert our birthright as the dumbest of the dumb, when suddenly the horizon is filled with the shrieking silver shapes of fighter jets (stall speed 200 mph?) struggling to keep up with the newest four-wheeled birkenstock (top speed 110 mph?) Saab calls an automobile. The laws of physics be damned; this is the finals of the dumb advertising sweepstakes, and the Swedes are planning to steal the honors with the most outrageous nonsense seen in many a year. Well, they've succeeded. No other company on earth could be so thoroughly lame-brained as to fabricate a daredevil performance image for a sex-free milquetoaster fifty years after its introduction. It's awe-inspiring. Just to put it in perspective for you, we'll do the unthinkable and remind you of the illustrious past being referenced here:

An early Saab fan-cooled, two-stroke jet. Very hot.

A Saab 92 high-performance motorcar, bristling with aircraft technology.

In all the excitement, we forgot what the prize is. But we'll think it over and get back to you.

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