Pop Culture

Test Pattern: Five-link Friday

• July 30, 2004 | 8:30 a.m. PT

Five-link Friday

Keep the commercial votes coming in, but I'm going to take a one-day break and offer up another five-link Friday.

• Computer geeks, are you sick of getting up and walking to the fridge when you're hungry, disrupting a good round of the latest first-person shooter? How about ? (Um, be sure to click on 'Add to Cart' for the punchline.)

• An oldie but a goodie: McSweeney's list of . My favorites include "How Are We Going to Get These Dogs Back In?", "867-5309 Extension 2," and "Seriously, Eileen, Come On."

• I'm always entertained by misheard lyrics, which are oftentimes better than the regular lyrics. This  includes one of the best..."The Wreck of the Ella Fitzgerald." Yes the legend lives on, from the Chippewa on down.

• Back to commercials for a brief moment: So have you seen the St. Joseph's Aspirin commercial with Anson "Potsie" Williams singing the oh-so-catchy "Pump Your Blood" song? That's really from a "Happy Days" episode (in my opinion, St. Joseph's was brilliant to use it in their ad), and you can if you scroll down on this page of "Happy Days" songs.

• Reader-contributed link (feel free to send in your favorites): Jim from Sacramento says "documents and archives bad voice-acting in video games. REALLY BAD acting in video games." You said it. An especially hilarious one is from where the site notes "This is the clip that plays when you die and get the continue screen. It’s supposed to be your character gasping his last breath as he dies. And yes, this is read like everything else in this game — as flat as possible." Thanks, Jim!

• July 29, 2004 | 9:45 a.m. PT

Keep the votes coming in, and remember, no matter how many commercials you mention, note which two get your vote for absolute best and absolute worst.

Here's a sampling of what's been coming in.

Ads that are showing up the most on both best and worst lists:

1)      Quizno’s rodents

2)      Geico gecko

3)      Six Flags old man

4)      Dairy Queen Moo-Latte

BAD ADS: Top vote-getters so far

Lamisil“Thank you for mentioning the toenail fungus...I think the thing that puts it over the edge for me is the creaky door sound effect as the "fungus monster" lifts up the toenail.”    --Staci

Quizno’s“Quizno's. What does a demented rodent have to do with subs & sandwiches? After seeing and hearing those obnoxious commercials, I could be starving.. and as I pass by a Quiznos…I keep driving. I refuse to eat there, I don't care if their food was sent by heaven. I can not get that sound and image out of my head.”  --Tina

Pepto Bismol“#1 worst ad: Pepto Bismol conga line of ailments. I was jaw-droppingly shocked when the last woman grabbed her rear end to simulate diarrhea.”  --Amanda

Snapple“The horrific Snapple ads.  The bottles of juice made to look like real people in wigs, dresses, hero costumes and the like!  Give me a break!  I have to leave the room to escape those.  I’ll take the duck, gecko and 'can you hear me now?' 24/7 if they just stop the Snapple lameness.”     –-Bridget

Geico“I cannot imagine just how the Geico employees feel when they see the commerical where the gecko comes wheeling into the parking lot in his tiny sports car and zips into the Employee of the Month parking space right by the door.  I am not sure how I would feel if I worked hard at my job day after day, everyone watching TV saw that a gecko was the Employee of the Month. It might make me less eager to give it my all day after day. 

Enough of those ‘I've got good news’ lines also. The worst ones are the one where the inmate meets with his lawyer who announces that he has good news because he just saved a bunch on his auto insurance, the one where the judge in the courtroom announces to the assembled jurors, audience,lawyers, and defendant the he also has saved a bunch on his auto insurance… Come on, we are not stupid morons.”  --Kelly

McDonald’s“McDonald's has sunk to a low with the annoying ‘I'm lovin it’ series.  I used to think that stupid, annoying restaurant commercials were reserved for Taco Bell,  but,  I guess the powers that be at McDonalds have adopted the philosophy of let's annoy and dump our loyal customer base and pick up a new crowd.”    --Mark

GOOD ADS: Top vote-getters so far

Citibank“Favorite Commercials - the series of commercials for, I believe it is, Citibank, where individuals whose identities were stolen are shown speaking with the voices of the thieves, about stuff they bought with stolen credit.  The appeal, I think, is that the visual and audio images actually work/stimulate my brain.  In particular, the Asian woman with the voice of the lounge lizard Larry.  The way the woman looks when the voice laughs at the end of the commercial is too weird.” --Cris

Starbucks“The Starbucks commercial featuring aging rock band Survivor following a normal guy around while singing a personalized edition of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ is a pure stroke of comedic genius.  I nearly fall off the couch laughing every time I see it.”  --Shady

Staples“I really like the one where the kids are walking down the aisle of a Staples store behind their father looking all sad, while the father is collecting school supplies,  dancing  and  kicking up his heels in happiness.”   --Gladys

Six Flags“I almost fell out of my chair when I saw the ‘old guy’ dancing to the Venga Boy’s “We like to Party”. I love that song!! (I own the CD. My boyfriend also commented on the fact that he (old dude) and I dance very similar, at least to that song anyway). I had my cheerleaders dance to that song about 5 years ago. I never get tired of that song, or any other mind numbing, over played song. As long as it has a decent beat and rhythm I’m cool with it. Keep up the great Six Flags Commercials, and I’ll keep laughing.”  --Bridget

Geico“I like the Geico commercials (only the ones featuring the gecko).  I really laugh when the Gecko starts singing 'Kung Fu Fighting' and everyone in the car just stares at him and then sings along.  I hate 'I've good great news' Geico commercials.  Stick to the gecko.”    --Lisa

Other bad ads mentioned by at least one person“The ones about Bob, who has new ‘sex appeal’.  I believe I have actually blocked the product name from my mind in a last ditch effort to save my sanity.  The look on the guy’s face is exceptionally creepy!  There’s one where they refers to Bob having a ‘..happy Mrs. Bob at home...’ The look on the wife’s face is so ‘pasted’ - as in fake.  She looks like she’s smiling just to keep from killing her newly sex-crazed husband!”  --Cris

“My number one most hated commercials are the annoying Arby’s talking oven mitt spots. Not only is that thing creepy looking, but you know it’s bad when the voice is Tom Arnold. In the spot pushing their new Low Carby’s, the mitt says he can’t wait to wear his new bathing suit, and pulls out a thong. Thanks for the mental picture of Tom Arnold in a tight swimsuit, Arby’s.”  --Megan

“As soon as I hear ‘Dr. Greg Cynaumon’ on the Cortislim commercials, I change the channel.  Can you say "quack?"  Who the heck is he, anyway?  These commercials prey on folks trying to lose weight and come across as condescending (use Cortislim only if you have a lot of weight to lose).  Not only that, they are way tooooooooo loooooooonnnnngggggg.  Give me a break!”    --Mary

“Worst commercial . . . too many to name . . . but that stupid one with the three women in the theatre all bloated from over-eating and gas (and the so obvious inflatable apparatus under their shirts). The one in the middle deflates by taking Tums or Pepsid or whatever the product is (memorable huh) and then has to use her arm to cover the deflated thing under her shirt that didn't quite deflate all the way.”    --Dyan

“Hate hate hate the stupid PetMeds commercial where they show the poor woman who has to push her dog into her car (like that's hard to do) and sit in traffic to the vet's office and get her pet's medicine, instead of using PetMeds online.”  --Katie

“The one where the wife calls her husband, who works at a deli, and asks him to bring home some deli meat.  Being the lazy, lying dirtbag he is, he goes to the supermarket and buys deli meat instead of cutting it himself.  His amazed wife comments "How do you do it?"  Through carefully planned nightly deceptions, honey.  Through carefully planned deception.”    --Melvin

Other good ads mentioned by at least one person“My favorite commercial is one I haven’t seen mentioned yet - those M&M commercials where there is this sea of floating M&M’s that change colors while this “Color My World” song plays.  If ever a commercial worked, it’s this one - it makes me want M&M’s so badly!”  --Erin

“My favorite camera is a camera commercial where the friends are in a restaurant and they see Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.  They practically fall all over the table trying to get to their cameras for a picture of him.  After the picture is taken, Tyler cooly looks back at the group over the rim of his sunglasses as he walks out the door.  Steven's pretty cool for a senior guy.”  --msres

“I'd have to say my favorite commercial right now is the Sprint PCS commercial with the kids coloring in class and the new kid gets the deluxe coloring kit and the other kids are flabbergasted. This commercial is so good because that perfectly describes what wireless companies do -- reward new customers as we current customers look on in awe and confusion. The kid actors do a great job.”  --Jennifer

“Love the cell phone commercial where the little boy goes over his ‘Macaroni Minutes.’  It is so dead on, as my cell-phone company made me feel the same way, completely dumbfounded when I got the bill.  This is the reason I no longer have a cell phone.”  --Tracey

“There is a kitty-litter commercial where the cats of the house are throwing a party for all their kitty friends.  There are cats all over the place and the owners come home early.  All the cats run away, the family's cats are in their basket purring away when the owners walk in.  But there is one leftover partygoer with a lamp shade on his little kitty head saying, ‘where'd everybody go?’  I love this commercial!”    --Karen

“I love the St. Joseph’s Aspirin commercial with the song about the route blood takes through the body. I would have loved knowing this song back in high school biology, or even when I was a young nursing student. Maybe you have to be in health care to like it.”[Editor’s Note: No, that ad cracks me up and I’m not in healthcare. It’s Anson “Potsie” Williams singing it, and it’s from when he sang it on a “Happy Days” episode…anyone remember that?]

“I love the Quizno’s rodent!  I find myself singing the Quiznos song all the time.  It probably helps that I sound just like the critters when I sing, even if I'm trying not to. I would buy a stuffed rodent if Quiznos ever sells them!” --Teri

• July 27, 2004 | 9:00 a.m. PT

More commercial carping

I thought we might be done with the commercial carping, but apparently it's a fertile topic. Here's another rundown of the good, the bad, and the ugly in TV advertising.

And I've got a request: Keep sending in your comments, but if you can, also . I know, it's tough to pick just one, but give it a shot.

I'll tally the votes in each category and give a rundown in a week or so, and maybe we can crown the best and worst ads.

Stick to commercials that are currently on the air, please, and try to stick to national ones so we can all share the misery.

A quick summary of this week's mail:

1) The Quizno's mutant rodent things have only a few defenders.

2) The GEICO ads are controversial, but some folks really like the gecko.

3) The AFLAC duck is liked by some, hated by others

4) Many cringe at ads for personal products (herpes drugs, tampons, Viagra) but a vocal few think the cringers need to face up to the fact that these things exist.

5) No one, but no one, can bring themselves to defend the super-creepy animated toenail fungus.

Now on to your comments:

BAD ADS: They’re bad, so bad, they’re really, really bad”Okay, quick rundown on the worst commercials on TV right now (who's in charge of leaving these on for what seems like years??):1.  Freakishly disturbing pseudo-old man dancing in a most irritating fashion around Six Flags to nerve-grinding wanna-be techno.  I don't even want to go to Magic Mountain anymore.  2.  The Diarrhea Cha-Cha-Cha by Pepto.  So sick.3.  Bear Diarrhea Cha-Cha-Cha by Charmin.  Cha-cha-cha.  Now, we have the "Less Is More" cha-cha, and all I have to say is that if your child thinks he/she needs a large wad of toilet paper, YOU DON'T ARGUE.4.  Capri Sun commercial with the creaky-hip lady taking an hour to walk to the car.  Ugh.5.  All Taco Bell commercials, past, present, and future.6.  I have to agree with Deanna about the tampon plugging up the boat commercial.  So crude, tasteless and disgusting and NO ONE WANTS TO KNOW HOW THEY WORK, for God's sake!  Stop airing feminine product commercials, PLEASE!7.  Geico Gecko is okay, but the others have got to stop.  8.  Dr. Pepper, starring the two Muppet-voiced country stars Leann Rimes and Reba MacEntire.  Eeeww.9.  Miller Beer — what is going on?  This fake political ad where he's debating with a horse or donkey or whatever it is makes no sense. 10.  And last, every commercial with Jessica Simpson makes me want to throw myself off a cliff.”    —Amber

“Hands down, the commercials that I think are the dumbest are the Febreeze commercials. Especially the first one, with the large balding man who was opening his door, smelling his house, then closing the door. Cycle repeats. I honestly wonder how he can show his face outside his house since that commercial aired.”  —Matt

“Foot Locker did a commercial last summer featuring Lebron James and a host of celebrities playing basketball in church.  Good grief!  Sure I made the connection -- that basketball is like a religion  -- but if I ever ran down the church aisle and tried to slam-dunk anything in church, my mother would have slam-dunked me!  Maybe FootLocker should stick to the playing fields and leave religion out of it.”    —Chri

“I can't stand the new Wendy's ads.  Dave Thomas has to be turning over in his grave.  That unofficial spokesman guy shouldn't be a hero to people on those ads, he should be committed.”      —Rian

“One ad of interest to me is the erectile dysfunction ad with ‘We Are The Champions’ background music. The juxtaposition of Freddy Mercury, a gay man who was tragically taken by AIDS, the obviously heterosexual theme is a little weird to me.”    —Lee

“Basically in agreement with the rest of America's love/hate choices. However, NO ONE has mentioned what I feel are totally unbelievable commercials. Take any beautiful, young (maybe all of 20) woman proclaiming the benefits of anti-aging creams, lotions and wrinkle removers! Pleassseeeeee. Try those creams on a 50-something woman, do the close ups and let’s see how well the product works! As if the 20-year-old even knows what a wrinkle is.”    —Linda

“Oh man, have you seen that Quizno's commercial with the singing mutant hamsters?  Good god, that's just the creepiest thing ever! These two hamster-like creatures with sort of human eyes and mouths singing high-pitched and out of tune.  I can't even understand what they're saying, but all I keep thinking is that if that's what's wandering around Quizno's stores, I'm not eating THEIR food!”     —Debbie

“I hate the Ball Park Frank commercials with that husky guy. In one commercial, he leers weirdly and purrs the word ‘giiiiiiiiirthy’ at us as he shoves a hot dog into his face. In another, he gripes about people with piercings. Is either one of these ads supposed to make me want to buy hot dogs? The ‘girthy’ ad itself is enough to make me lose my appetite”   —Scott

“The Coke ad where the basketball player uses his friend's can to cool down his sweaty underarm. Yes, Coke really does taste like armpit sweat!”      —Ysabelle

“Oh mannnn, the one with that poor goldfish that is gulping for air.  It's a commercial for an asthma inhaler medication I think...but I turn it off every time it comes on cause watching that poor fish in that bowl as the water is removed... it's just too sick.”      —Pamela

“There is a toilet-paper commercial for a wet wipe, featuring twin girls each wiping down one side of a dog with regular toilet paper, then one girl uses the wet wipe, which still picks up dirt.  Both girls go ‘yuck.’  My husband looked at me after the commercial and said ‘I don't get it.’  I told him, ‘the dog represents your butt, and it evidently doesn't get clean without a wet wipe.’  After digesting this information for a couple of seconds, my husband grins and says ‘How many guys do you think are going to wash their dogs with the wipes?’”    —Kelly

“We are boycotting Clorox for their sexist 'Momma's got the magic of Clorox' commercial line. In general when is corporate America going to wise up to the fact that 'keeping house' is not just a woman's responsibility?”     —David

“The Geico gecko is so annoying that I'm actually starting to like the AFLAC duck!! I found it quite disturbing to see the gecko holding hands and, apparently, dating a young female HUMAN BEING!! It's enough to make me want to do the ‘Diarrhea Dance.’ “      —Barbara

“Has anyone seen the commercials for the Olympics where it's, like, 30 clips of people doing Olympicky-type things in Greece?  And did anybody catch that at least 12 of those images that flash by you are just quick shots of various bikini-clad women either just standing there or emerging like sirens from water? (Seriously, watch closely next time) Huh?  This is the Olympics, people!  Does this network think that we have all become so sex-crazed that they'll never get us to watch the Olympics without teasing us into it with totally gratuitous boobie shots?”    —Carrie [Editor’s Note: Heh. This reminds me of Homer Simpson making his wife change the channel by saying “Aw, Marge, you can watch the Olympics any time.”]

“I think we can all agree on one thing:  That AFLAC duck has got to go.”  —Matthew
[Editor’s Note: Matthew, meet Katie, below]

Ads we like
“I absolutely love the AFLAC commercials with the duck, my favorite being the synchronized swimming one.  They were annoying at the beginning, but I find them getting funnier every time and the fact that just saying ‘AFLAC’ actually sounds like a duck, well, that just enhances the laughter.”      —Katie

“The best ad was the one for a beer, I think, where you think it's snowing then the camera looks towards the sky and it's really some Enron-type guys shredding documents and throwing them out of the window.”     —Andrea

“When I was in Virginia I heard an ad on the radio for Coke.  The basic premise is that a couple goes to the movies, he buys an extra large tub of popcorn, and buys her a Coke, and she doesn't share the Coke.  When she wants to make out, he can't do it, because she didn't share.  Don't date girls that don't share Coke is the last phrase, I believe.  It's absolutely hysterical, and every time we heard it, we always turned it up.  I'm hoping it makes its way to Ohio soon.”    —Beth

“The movie preview for Edy's Grand Light ice cream is hilarious. The premise for a nice, gentle guy getting caught up in the controversy over the fat content of the tasty treat invokes so much compassion for him. It's so funny when his co-worker melodically threatens after hours at work, ‘I know what you're up to.’ Plus, that churning ice cream looks really yummy.”      —Emily

“OK I love the Geico comericials. Maybe it’s because I love that little gecko — but they make me smile every time I see them.  Specially that once where he's in the back seat of the family car with his little seat belt on.  Call me sick — but I think he's the bomb!!”    —Shelby

“I think one of the most clever commercials I've ever seen is the one for Geico where the squirrels high-five each other in congratulations for making a motorist swerve to avoid them.  The rest of the Geico commercials are terrible though.”    —Linda

“I love the gecko! He doesn't have herpes, diarrhea or gas. He doesn't promise anyone great sex or unending love for buying his product. He isn't insulting anyone — including us. He just makes fun of himself, and us — gently. He's cute and soft-sell. What’s wrong with you?”  —Chana

“One set of commercials that I do like are those from Priceline.com featuring William Shatner & Leonard Nimoy, a.k.a. Capt. Kirk & Spock.  Shatner really plays up the fact that his best friend (in our minds) and #2 competitor is replacing him as the Voice of Priceline.  He slowly realizes that all of the perks he was once receiving are now all going to Mr. Spock. right down to his hotel room be given to Leonard.  I know he's an actor and its cheap laughs at his expense, it just works for me.”      —Chri

“The best commercial I've seen lately would have to be the Gatorade commercial combining clips of different sports on different levels in different parts of the world. The last line in the commercial is ‘no matter where you play the game, it's always 90 ft. from home.’ I like that cozy United Colors-of-Benetton feeling it gives me, even though I’m a bit over the whole sweating colored Gatorade thing.”      —Chri

Dairy Queen's Moo-latte blind taste-test spot is currently my favorite.  The test subject is so overcome by the taste of this wonderful coffee concoction that she blindly, desperately runs away, slurping down her drink, only to slam full speed into a window.  It makes me stop what I'm doing every time, and every time it still makes me giggle.”     —Melanie
[Editor’s Note: I have yet to see this, but three people wrote in raving about it, so right on, DQ.”]

“My personal favorite was the one played during the playoffs to the Super Bowl. Suddenly you were watching a soccer match from England and a streaker running about the field. You watched perplexed until you discovered it was the Nike shoes that kept him one step ahead of the law.”      —Bill

“I like all the milk ads.  My favorite is the one where the kids telling their mom that they don't need to drink milk, as they watched the old guy next door, who doesn't drink milk, can still push the heavy loads. Yet, they freaked out and gulped their glasses of milk when the man lost his arms because of his brittle bones.”      —Alexa

“My favorite commercial is an older one that they show every Christmas for the Toys for Tots program.  It involves a little boy who goes up to a Marine in uniform and asks him if he's Santa.  The Marine never acknowledges the boys except to open his hand to take the little boy's wish list.  The boy that exclaims 'You are Santa.'  I cry every time I see that commercial.”      —Anonymous

“I love the commercial (I think it's for Staples) where there's a young girl obviously being dragged along to shop for school supplies.  She's pouting and finally looks up and says "I thought you said school's out forever."  The person shopping with her turns out to be Alice Cooper in full make-up.  He replies "No, no. The song says 'school's out for summer'."      —Shawn
[Editor's Note: Heh. Nice one, Alice.]

“My favorite commercial is the Nike commercial showing Lance Armstrong out riding his bike in different settings, riding along an ocean side road, pacing a freight train, leading a flock of geese, riding up a road in a forest, in the streets of San Francisco, and in the final shot, a young boy rides his heart out to stay on Lance's rear wheel. I saw this commercial and told my wife, ‘This is why I ride...’ ”     —Steve

Agreeing to disagree: Not everyone has the same opinion

Actually that Uncle Ben's Rice commercial with the chef who comes home and cooks dinner for his wife really bothers me. If I had a husband who cooked for people all day long, the last thing I would want him to do when he comes home to relax after a long day (and being a chef equals long days) is cook me dinner. That woman should have dinner ready for him when he comes home; after all they show how easy it is to do! I like the simplicity of the ad and that they don't shout stuff at you the whole time, but the idea of who cooks dinner bothered me the first time I saw it!”      —Kelly

“I could read a lot of pathophobia (fear of disease) in relation to [a reader’s negative reaction to] herpes ads; but worse than that, ignorance on the subject! Where were you that day on STD classes? Fact: 50 million Americans have herpes!”     —Anonymous

“Of course, that Pledge ad doesn't feature 'Respect' at all. It's Fontella Bass's 'Rescue Me,' the best song Aretha never did. Poor Fontella, she had a monster hit that everybody thinks another person did.”      —Hank

“I cannot believe the Six Flags commercial!  I find the old dancing guy so absolutely repugnant and repulsive that I have to turn the channel as soon as I see the commercial starting. The music makes me want to heave when I hear it!  Yuck.”      —Robbi

“I completely disagree about the with the old man dancing around. The ‘old guy’ is obviously a much younger guy in gross, scary, ‘old man’ makeup, and he reminds me of Uncle Junior from the Sopranos, which is just all-around disconcerting. I lunge for the remote every time I see that commercial come on!”    —Katherine

“All those auto parts flying through the air! I can't watch it long enough to find out what they're advertising. Brought up in the Depression; we had a Model T that cost $5. Wouldn't have dreamed of busting it up. Hate waste! Hate busting things.”   —Pat

“I'd like to disagree on the topic of the Geico ads. I, for one, happen to think that they're hilarious! Every time I hear one, I laugh out loud. Each time I hear, ‘I just saved a bundle on my car insurance,’ I'm caught by surprise, and I laugh. And, the nerd that I am, I've adapted the situation to real life situations. Some friends and I are waiting for someone, I go outside to check for the person, come back in and say, ‘I've got good news...’ "     —Bernie

“I loathe the new Citibank 'Thank You' campaign.  Anyone with half of a brain cell can formulate a counteranalysis to ‘the world would be a better place if more people said 'thank you' philosophy.’  First, the 'thank you' givers are in trouble (one man having strung a woman along for some time with no marriage proposal and another woman mistaking a full-figured woman for being pregnant).  In a last ditch effort to diffuse the situation, the best they can come up with is a meaningless 'thank you'?  Second, the 'thank you' recipients, though irate at the beginning of our 30 seconds, quickly accept the hollow diversion.  Now, place Citibank in the role of the 'thank you' giver and their customers in the role of the recipient.  Are we to believe that Citibank is finally admitting that they've strung along their customer base with bait-and-switch offers, never bothering to learn their true needs and now think they'll redeem themselves with a throwaway 'thank you'?  Sorry Citi, you're not getting off that easy with me!”    —Beth

“Regarding the Pepto-Bismol dancing ads: I'd rather see that (I think it's rather cute) than a person walking down the street or trying to get on a bus toting a toilet. Ick.”    —Mitzi