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Test Pattern: Five ads you hate

HeadOn gives viewers a headache, no ‘Idol’ worship here

Five ads you hate

It was kind of tough yesterday to find five ads that repeatedly came up on the good side of the equation. Today’s task, however, was much easier. Ads that we hate are much more noticeable, and more fun to write about.

You should know that many of our old “favorites” keep coming up in the discussion, too. People still hate Johnson crunching his way through being fired for Raisin Bran Crunch, still can’t stand the Pepto-Bismol diarrhea danceline, and, of course, still are completely disgusted by . But I wanted to freshen the discussion by pulling up some mostly new bad ads. It was easy to do. Dozens of you nominated the Head-On ad alone.

Here are five ads that send you lunging for the remote when they come on.

Headache-inducing commercial“The product is "Head-ON", a headache medication that you apply directly to your forehead. The commercial is a photograph of a woman with the tube of Head-ON on her forehead. Then there is an extremely loud and annoying female voice repeating the words "Head-ON! Apply directly to your forehead. Head'ON! Apply directly to your forehead." She does this about four times before the commercial ends. And probably the worst part of the commercial is that it is so short that the TV stations consistently play this commercial back to back so you get twice the enjoyment from one horrible commercial.”    --Kat

Hummer-sized egos“The ad that I currently hate is the one for the Hummer where a little boy is waiting to go on the slide and another kid steps in front of him and the first boy's mother says hey little so and so is next and the other mother says well now my little brat is next. Then the first mother sees an ad on a bus for the new Hummer. Suddenly she has on her "girl power" by going out and buying this stupid car. Makes me want to hunt her down and run her over in my Pontiac Sunbird. Stupid woman can't stand up for herself or child unless she has a Hummer...oh please!”    --Sharon

The doctor is out“The "Dr. Z" commercials for Chrysler Benz have GOT TO GO. Not only is that fake German accent really annoying, but the commercial doesn't make sense!! The interviewer guy asks if the "Dr." is really a doctor--then they crash into the wall-- and then the "Dr." asks "Any more questions?" Huh?”    --Stephanie

Random celebrities for Geico“The new series of Geico commercials are getting increasingly annoying -- and when Little Richard is the least irritating of the bunch, you know you've got a problem. He appears to be having some kind of seizure over the cranberry sauce. This is, however, better than the one that features Burt Bacharach looking very just-post-stroke. The song Burt sings reminds me of a Family Guy episode where Randy Newman performs an equally irritating series of musical interludes. And, of course, we can't forget Charo, who's just completely incomprehensible. As always. Geico needs some new blood in its advertising department, stat!”    --Katie

No ‘Idol’ worship
“The one commercial that to me is like running your fingernails down a blackboard is the Ford commercial with Taylor Hicks. Please Ford, end it all, run him over with an F-150, then I might continue to buy Ford trucks. Best ad for Chevy trucks ever made. I am wearing out my remote changing channels the second this guy starts to sing that jingle and sprained my ankle kicking my Ford truck.”    --Bill

Five ads you love

Let’s start getting down to business. Today I’ll list five commercials that are definitely in the running for the year’s best commercial; tomorrow I’ll offer up five that are competing for the worst title. That doesn’t mean others aren’t in the running, or that you can’t still send in different nominations. These five, however, are coming up so often in your emails that they deserve special consideration.

First, the ads you like:

M&Ms ROCK THE BOAT“Funniest Commercial? Hands down the M&M’s Commercial. The M’s are in the galley helping to propel the boat. They break out in a chorus of “Row, Row, Row your boat!” and then “Rock the Boat, don’t rock the boat Baby!” I roar everytime I see this one.”    --Dave

PC vs MAC“I absolutely LOVE the PC vs Mac commercials. Here’s a .The premise is simple...a white background and two guys..one is a PC and one is a Mac. Their witty and (to me) hilarious conversations illustrate the problems of a PC and the ease of a Mac. My only complaint is that I don’t see the commercials a whole lot!”    --JoAnne

THEFT DETERRENT PHONE“Another ad I love came on during the Super Bowl - the one for Sprint where the guys are in the locker room bragging about their phone features. One of them says his phone has a “theft deterrent” and encourages the other guy to try to steal it. When he reaches for it, the guy turns around and throws the phone full speed at his head. Just the look on the guy’s face is priceless...gets me laughing every time.”    --Jen

GOOD DEEDS“Liberty Mutual has, not only an effective commercial, but also an inspiring one. The message is about social responsibility and features Hem’s song ‘Half Acre.’ In it, a person witnesses an act of kindness or good deed and goes on later to do something nice for a total stranger, who in turn, does something nice for someone else, and so on. It gets across the company’s theme of “Responsibility. What’s your policy?””    --Thann

USA CHARACTERS“I’m not sure if these count, but the USA promos for Psych, The Dead Zone, and Monk featuring the main characters interacting in character are HILARIOUS! I particularly love the one where Anthony Michael Hall (as psychic John Smith) informs Tony Shaloub (as OCD dective Monk) just where the punch bowl has been...followed by Monk cordoning it off with crime scene tape. It’s a really funny way to introduce people who are unfamiliar with the shows to their odd-ball characters.”    --Cari

Multi-link Monday

After two weeks at the LA TV Critics summer press tour, I'm back at last, and so Test Pattern should return to a normal posting schedule, at least for a while. Here's another Multi-link Monday of randomness. And a note: If you've submitted a link recently, there's a chance it got buried in all the TV commercial nominations, so feel free to resend.

• I've long been a fan of , which features some of the goofiest comic books ever released. Now I've discovered , a whole new resource for comic craziness. Favorites include a , (sadly, not in a fight to the death), and one in which . (Found via .)

• I've linked to a version of this before, but for those who haven't seen it: If you were born after 1952, you can that was #1 on the day you were born. The idea is that you then take that as a sort of theme for your life. Or not, depending on how good it is. Mine was The Monkees' "Daydream Believer." (Sent in by a reader who didn't leave his or her name.)

• On "The Apprentice," the teams always start out by coming up with (usually stupid) names for their "corporations." Next season, maybe they should just use instead. I tried it, and it named my corporation Profito. Now there's a name only a Trump could love...

• The Onion lists . That Paper Lace tune, with its "East Side of Chicago" reference, has always made me laugh. Another good one that's not mentioned is Kim Wilde's "Kids in America," which references the new wave coming from "New York to East California." East California? Yeah, there's a lot happening in Death Valley.

• Only people who love magazines as much as I do will find this next link fascinating. Wikipedia offers a . Spy, Wigwag, George -- so many have come and gone. Of course my favorite mourned mag is Sassy, which doesn't appear to make the list, but has .

Commercial contenders

We’ve discussed plenty of commercials already, but I’ve tried to select for today’s column only ads that we haven’t already talked to death, whether good ones or bad.

ADS WE HATE
My worst ad? Oh Gosh... the stupid "Don'tcha want-a, Fanta Fanta...!" I can't STAND that ad! Not that I was a fan of Fanta before, but now you couldn't PAY me to drink that stuff... The song skips in your head like a broken record! Help!  —Jenny

“Worst commerical ever: That stupid bee from that nasal spray commercial. Dear God. What, did they make it in 1996 on a 486 computer with 3D Studio Max 1? The horror! And the accent! What's with the accent?”    —Anonymous

“I hate the ‘Honey, if you’re not too busy, could you book our tickets?’ commercial. My reply, If I were the poor guy who is trying to do his job at work would be. ‘Honey, since you’re not busy and are bugging the life out of me, go out and get a damn JOB!”    —Bud

The worst series of ads on the market right now for fast food have to be those, I can't mute them fast enough, Dunkin Donuts debacles, all of them. From the horrible music in "sticking to the pleather" and "it's a billion degrees" to that idiotic family in the minivan screaming "Karate!". I want them all to stop. And, until they do I'll just keep going to Tim Horton’s.”  —Kurtis

“I think the new Ad for the IHOP carnival pancakes is so very sublymonal. You see a young couple on a ferris wheel and then it just stops at the very top, you see all the clowns and circus crew leaving to get the new carnival pancakes at IHOP... The girl laughs as they are stuck at the top and says "we are so high", the guy in the cart behind him laughs...to me it seems like someone had the "munchies.”   —Ana

ADS WE LOVE
“I'm surprised no one has mentioned Travelocity's "Roaming Gnome" commercials as a favorite. I absolutely love them. The voice of the gnome is funny yet not annoying (unlike Geico's gecko). Also, they don't seem to have the staleness that other ads often take on.”   —Missy

“Just when I thought I was having a really bad day, LITTLE RICHARD pops up on a Geico commercial! Whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” —Susan

“Do PBS commercials count? I know the animal debate was a while back, but I love the commercial with the goldfish watching the salmon jumping the falls. It's great to see his little gold self jumping with the salmon in the end.”   —Krystal

“I just saw the greatest commercial for Orbits chewing gum. It features Snoop Dogg being sent to hell (a room filled with old ladies with horns) for eternity because of his dirty mouth. Then, conveniently, the Orbits gum lady shows up saying "Dirty mouth?" It then shows Snoop Dogg in heaven dressed all in white, smiling. I just thought this was soooo funny and I laugh every single time I see it! Classic!”   —Nikki

“My fave right now is the denim ad where the guy sees a "breaking news story" about a fugitive being chased thru a neighborhood filmed from a helicopter. The guy looks closely and realizes his jeans are being stolen by the fugitive looking for a change of clothing. He runs out of the apt. in time to tackle the guy before the cops are able to catch up (all the while his perplexed girlfriend watches it on TV from upstairs).”  —Jenny

“The Carl's Jr milkshake ad is the best. The one where the guy is shaking a cow. I laugh just thinking about that one.”  —Melissa

“Jack in the Box There ad for salads that opens with the question " What do women really want" is brilliant. It is a sophisticated piece of mini-theater that plays on the difference in commumications between men and women. I generally don't frequent fast food establishments, but fully intend to go to Jack in the Box just to support the ad.”  —Anonymous

Subway: Lovitz or hate it

Sorry for all the breaks in our commercial contest. I’m finishing up the TV Critics’ conference this week (that blog is ), and should be able to get back to commercials next week.

We’ve been talking about fast-food ads, and one series in particular came in for more than its share of comment: Jon Lovitz’s “Subway Dinner Theater” ads. Here are some of your thoughts:

LOVIN’ LOVITZ
“I like the Jon Lovitz commercials for Subway. Each one has a little "play" followed by dialog from Lovitz. The best "play" is "On my Own", with the guy's look of horror when he sees the sign that says "Tofu". The best commentary from Lovitz is "The un-fed". The first time I saw it, I rewound it 5 times because it funny how he's struggling to not break into laughter as he gives his monologue... I wonder if they had several takes and that's the best one.”    --Dave

“A nominee for the BEST commercial should be the Subway commercial deemed 'Subway Dinner Theater'. The subs actually look declicious enough to inhale. Just thinking about that commercial makes me hungry. Not to mention Jon Lovitz adds a nice touch, I trust him when it comes to food.”    --Danielle

“Oh, get off your high horses. Jon Lovitz does no wrong and is terrific, his work in the Sub ads are just fine. Lighten up people!”      --Dan

“Man, I LOVE Jon Lovitz and I think the Subway ads are great! The Burger King ads - someone's on crack on that ad team. They're turning into Mexican restaurants everywhere where I live - I think there's a BK about 20 miles from me - and that's just fine!”  --Kay

“I absolutely love the Subway commercials w/Jon Lovitz. He's sooooo over the top with it. I think the mini-shorts are hilarious...they're so stupid and pointless.”    --Anonymous

NOT TAKING THIS SUBWAY
“I absolutely will not eat at Subway until they get a new spokesman. John Lovitz has got to be right up there with Gilbert Gottfried and the Oxyclean guy in the annoying category. I literally want to throw something at my TV when this commercial comes on!”   --Miriah

“Love Subway and other fast food restaurants but the ads would not make me eat at them. Dump Jon Lovitz and bring back Jared.”    –Bill

“I HATE the commercial for Subway - Jon Lovitz's voice is like fingernails on a chalkboard. Same with Ben Stein.”    –Diane

Multi-link Monday

Again, apologies for the infrequent postings this week and last. I’m still filing to my temporary from the TV Critics’ conference, so time is short, but I haven’t forgotten about our commercial contest. I will get back to it on a more regular basis soon. For now, let’s unroll another multi-link Monday, this time with three reader-submitted links. See, you, too, can make it in the column. Just send something fun that hasn’t already been linked to everywhere around the Web … at least recently.

• I linked to lots of (hmm, for all his brilliance, that is one sentence the Bard could never have anticipated). Reader JC got into the game via e-mail, saying “Shakespeare was the master of insults and randomly picks out clever little insults from his plays.” Wow, I hope no one calls me “thou warped earth-vexing hedge-pig!”

• Reader Darrell also had a link related to a former link. I’ve actually linked to the site he suggests before, but it’s worth another look. “The is OK, but I don't have time to read those lengthy critiques, so here is another reader-submitted link: . This wise old site provides much shorter and often hilarious reviews of many books.” Here’s that site’s summary of “Huckleberry Finn,” just as an example: “(Goes rafting. Goes home.)”

• If you travel around your town and read a few signs, you’ll begin to wonder if anyone remembers their basic grammar rules once they graduate high school. When referring to more than one taco, it’s tacos, not “taco’s.” Ditto for cats, telephones, muffins or anything else that can be pluralized. An apostrophe should stay outta the way unless it’s called upon to make something possessive. I know more than one teacher (and a few concerned citizens) who would like to make copies of and slap it on incorrect signs and menus everywhere.

• Online movie-ordering sites are pretty interesting to me. You can browse through tons of movies for rental, look at lists of what your friends are renting, even get recommendations. I’ve just discovered that Netflix.com also has a section for , which means members can log in and see what’s popular in their city. You can also change the city and see what other towns are renting. Popular in Seattle: the “7 Up” documentary series, “Red Dwarf,” and — duh — “Sleepless in Seattle.” Popular in my former hometown of Minneapolis: A sampling of late Minnesota comic Mitch Hedberg’s performances. The number-one Netflix rental in Dallas, when I checked? A documentary called “Gay Sex in the ‘70s.” Not what I was expecting.

• Before cupcakes became cool, muffins were the popular pastry, as when Elaine on “Seinfeld” tried to start a business selling just the muffin tops.. Says reader Karolyn: “I'm not sure if someone has already sent this Web site but is a hilarious collection of short [mostly] animated films starring muffins!” My recommendation: Check out at least #1 and #12 for a good laugh.

Fast food, bad ads

Posting here may be a little sporadic over the next two weeks. I'm actually composing this from my hotel room in Pasadena, where I'm attending the jam-packed TV Critics' Association annual summer press tour. (Hey, was that Ted Danson I just bumped into in the hall? Why, yes it was!) I'm blogging the , but I'll update original recipe Test Pattern whenever I can find a break. And don't worry, the commercial contest will keep going, and we'll crown a winner (and loser) in August.

Let's talk about fast food. Most of us eat it, at least sometimes, although we know it's no good for us. Some of us like it, some of us are appalled by it, and some of us try and pick and choose the healthier among the offerings. We're of mixed opinions about it, basically.

It's the same with fast-food ads. Some strike certain folks as funny, yet horrify others. Some think they're smart, others are smacking their heads in despair. Here are some of your very mixed opinions on fast-food ads.

Wendy’s
HATE THE ADS
“I HATE with a passion the Wendy's commercial for the "Sensational Salads". Wendy's couldn't have provided me with a better option to NOT go there. That woman is beyond annoying. Her voice made my skin crawl. I would turn the channel or mute it every time it came on.”    --Katy

“I personally find those new Wendy's commercials to be extremely annoying. I don't know what they're advertising to, but they seem to be running a kids' commercial during Top Model. The worst part, in my opinion, is that damn whistle.(which they insist on using SEVERAL times during the course of the ad) This is the thing that will drive me insane. Please, Wendy's, come up with a new marketing campaign before July.”    --Stephen

“Worst ad of the year? The Wendy's 'Sensational Salads' ones - you know, the ones with that awful blonde actress mugging her way through a phoney cooking show in order to sell some salads? Everytime I saw her cheezy blonde head and heard her nasal "sensational" it was a rush to change the channel.”  --Jessica[Editor’s Note: I reprinted this comment because of the followup below]

LOVE THE ADS
“Regarding Jessica's comment on Wendy's Sensational Salads commercial -- I have to disagree. It makes me smile every time. It's supposed to look bad and campy. If she sounds annoying, then that should tell something about her acting ability.”    --Anonymous

“I am so surprised no one mentioned the Wendy's commercial with the raccoons. I swear I almost peed my pants the first time I saw this commercial. This is the one where the raccoons are bored with the food from the garbage can and they steal an SUV, backing up through a garage door. The best part was the raccoon in the passenger seat screaming as the SUV makes a sharp turn through an intersection. The whole commercial runs pretty quick and I couldn't stop laughing. If you haven't seen this one, turn off the TiVo and look for it!”    --Jeff

“The best commercial is the Wendy's commercial with the racoons with the Windex coming in a close second! I laugh each time these ads come on.”  --Sue

McDonald’s
HATE THE ADS
“Here's a nomination for a bad commercial. How about the one for McDonald's Premium Chicken Sandwich where the guy slowly turns into a chicken. I mean are they kidding us with this? The commercial, complete with the foreboding music, was so offputting and creepy that who in their right mind would actually go out and buy one of these sandwiches? In fact I stopped eating chicken for a month.”    --Ryan

“OK...BAD commercial. That creepy McDonald's commercial where the guy gets Chicken Feet because he has eaten too many sandwiches. What part of that commercial makes me WANT to buy one of their sandwiches?”    --Melissa

LOVE THE ADS“My favorite commercial...the one that when it comes on, I will call my family in from the other room to watch.....is the new McDonald's commercial with the guy who is always eating the chicken sandwiches and his friend says, "if you keep eating those, you're going to turn into a chicken"......then they play the spooky music as he finds feathers in his bed and in the end as the music climaxes, he gets out of bed and they only show his feet which are now chicken feet! Love it! Love it!”    --Barbara

Burger King
HATE THE ADS
“Worst commercials ever? The Burger King campaign is just awful. The "king" head? the "big clucking chicken?" I mean, c'mon...who came up with this junk? I turn the channel whenever I see it come on and find myself avoiding the fast food franchise whenever possible now. I think I hate these commercials more than the Baby Bob fiasco of last year.”    --Susan

“What is with the animated Burger King? If I ever opened my window in the morning and saw that freakish thing standing there with a huge breakfast sandwich I'd die of shock!”    --Kristen

LOVE THE ADS“I really love the Big Buckin' Chicken ads from Burger King. Its a guy in a chicken suit riding a dirt bike, doing jumps and stuff, with people watching on cheering & clapping. The song in the background is hilarious 'big....buckin chicken, you are big, and you are spicyyy!' etc. Also funny, along the bottom, there is a warning that says, 'stunt chicken, do not try this at home’.”    --Keri

“I'd say it's a toss up between the Burger King commercial where the guy is at a construction site on a high rise and the burger King gives him a coffee - the smile on the king is hilarious.”    --Becky

“The Burger King commercial with the "Whopper Family" (people dressed up like hamburgers) and the boy says to his dad - "If you would get your head out of your bun..." Made me laugh the first time I saw it.”    --D

OTHER CHAINS
“The worst ad ever is the Hardee's ad for the Philly steak burger where two guys are talking with there mouths full, the food is practically falling out and you can hardly understand them-it is just gross!”    --Mitzi

“The ad for Dairy Queen's FireBurger is hilarious. A guy in an office who has obviously just eaten a FireBurger inadvertently breaths on the paperwork on his desk and it catches fire. He tries to blow it out and more stuff catches on fire. Eventually, the office sprinkler system comes on and there's chaos everywhere. If everyone hasn't seen it, they should!”   --Karen

“Another nominee for worst commercial should also be the Subway commercials with Jon Lovitz. Where it is "Subway Dinner Theater" with little shorts about people who are hungry. I just don't really like how Lovitz plays it off, or the mini-shorts are weird too, like the one where a guy is sitting on chair with a fake steering wheel in front of him and he pretends to turn around to a Subway. Just odd.”    --Ryan

“Another nominee for worst commercial should also be the Subway commercials with Jon Lovitz. Where it is "Subway Dinner Theater" with little shorts about people who are hungry. I just don't really like how Lovitz plays it off, or the mini-shorts are weird too, like the one where a guy is sitting on chair with a fake steering wheel in front of him and he pretends to turn around to a Subway. Just odd.”    --Dawn

Multi-link Monday

Let's take another breather from the commercial craziness and offer up the five random links that have come to be known as Multi-link Monday. Revel in the randomness. And keep sending in those suggested links!

• In a Multi-link Monday , I offered up this reader-submitted . Similar to , which became the bane of offices everywhere, the quiz offers up a picture in which numerous movie titles are hidden. I don't have a definitive list of the answers, but Katy, a Test Pattern reader, shared the link with USA Today's wonderful Pop Candy, and readers over there have been busily compiling a .

• Have you seen the ? Want a pirate nickname? This Web site offers up nicknames for both and pirates. I'm Blackspot Lizzie. Yo ho ho! (Thanks to co-worker Paige for the link!)

, the totally entertaining and wacky toy store just five minutes from my house, has added to its line of crazy action figures. Check out the scary sticker sheet that lets you change out the mystery meat of the day. And I can't link to that without linking to the Adam Sandler . It gets all poignant and sweet somewhere around the "hoagies and grinders" chorus.

• Who saieth Shakespeare can't be fun? Random House offers up , including a quote duel, trivia and more. Forsooth, it is indeed entertaining.

• I've been planning a lot of trips this summer, so is an interesting site to me. Plug in where you're leaving from and where you're flying to, and it forecasts if airfares between those destinations are expected to go up or down. I have yet to find a destination pair where the fares are predicted to go down, but some definitely are expected to take bigger hikes than others. I was trying to plan a trip to Boston and found that on most airlines, it would take me longer to get from Seattle to Boston than it took me to get from Seattle to Tokyo, fer cryin' out loud. (Thanks to Lisa for the link!)