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Test Pattern: Local commercials we hate

Car dealers: Quit dressing up your kids! Restaurants: Don't rewrite rock!

Local commercials we hate

My request for nominations for your most-hated local and regional ads was met with a flood of suggestions. Some trends immediately emerged. Car dealers? Yeah, quit with the dressing up of your small children and with the yelling. Local restaurants? Sell us on your food, not the clownishness of your employees. And note to all businesses: it's rare that a classic rock song sounds good with its lyrics rewritten to hawk anything. ("Break on through, to the salad bar!")

On Monday, I'm going to put off Multi-link Monday for a couple days to give commercials one last push. On Tuesday, the winner and loser will be, uh, "honored." Our multi-link day of fun random linkage will be moved to Wednesday for a week, and then I'm going to take a couple days off, go to a state fair, and try not to think about until next summer.

You can still vote for your favorite and least favorite ads here, and you can also add to the discussion on our bulletin board.

For now, let's examine those local commercials. Yeesh.

“I’m so sick of Sonic commercials i don’t know what to do with myself. Not only because the two idiots in the drive through are anything except funny, but because I don’t even think there’s a Sonic IN Oregon!”    --Jasmine

“Worst local commercial. NYC’s anti-smoking where the guy has a voice box, and now he can’t go swimming. I smoke, but don’t club me over the head. I know it’s bad. I know it’s wrong. But I don’t need this to make me stop—it actually makes me light up in protest.”    --Eileen

“There is one here in Austin for Kaufman Motors — with a yodeling camel of all things - okay, cute - the FIRST time — not every commercial break! The only thing worse is when the guy’s nieces and daughters get on — dressed in 50’s style cowgirl outfits and yodel! Where’s the mute button?”    --Viv

“One of the worst commercials we saw was on vacation this year in Orlando. It was an appliance commercial where they guy would list off the features of the appliance like questions then say “YES!” and give a big thumbs up. Ice Machine? YES! Movable Shelves? YES! Keeps food cold? YES! They would have been funny if there hadn’t been so many of them. They must really want to drum up business cause they played them non stop during every break. Refrigerators, Washing Machines, Dryers, and every other appliance you can think of.”    --tiffany

“We have this truly awful local commercial, for Leonardo’s Pizza. In it, a chubby, balding but ponytailed middle aged man struts around singing “Oh, no, it’s not just sauce and dough, it’s Leonardo’s!” to the tune of the Rolling Stones “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll”. Painful.”    --Angie

“A local commercial for the Crye-Leike real estate company is as obnoxious as they come. A loud-mouthed, yodelling, dancing fool turns up the volume on his stereo loud enough to make a baby cry, a lady to smear her lipstick, a woman to close her windows and a man to throw his newspaper over his ears. It ends with the kid sitting on the sidewalk saying ‘HUH’. And so say all of us. Real estate. Real annoying.”    --Barry

“Worst regional ad? Here in North Florida, it has to be any of the Keith Pierson Toyota ads. The guy uses his pre-pubescent twin daughters to sell cars. Besides the utter creepiness of little girls dressed alike and speaking in synch, and ignoring the inanity of the script, you’d think the girls could pronounce the name of Dad’s dealership. But no, every time I have to hear about “Keith Pierson Tai-ota”. Any guess where I WON’T be buying a car from?”    --Aimee

“For at least FOURTEEN years, Arrow Upholstery has had the same little old lady pulling down her glasses as she says, “I’ve gone back three times, haven’t I?” Apparently the dingbats take pride in saving money on their commercials.”    --Shirley

“David’s comment about local car dealer ads in VA immediately took me back to the early ‘70’s. I was newly married and transplanted from NJ to Chesapeake where they only had 3 (count em) TV channels. The stupidest commercial I ever saw was for a car dealership. They had a person dressed in a bear suit beating up a man dressed in a kings outfit and the punchline was “You can’t ‘beat’ the King for great deals” — yes, it was also very loud. I can’t believe all these years later they still haven’t gotten any better.”    --Patricia

“There’s a local PSA here in Indiana run this summer, about pool safety. It’s a valid message, but the commercial is done like a home video of a little girl’s birthday party. The parents come outside with the cake, and their daughter has drowned in the pool. They don’t let it stop there...they play the audio of the parents dragging her out of the water, trying to get her to breathe, screaming and crying. It’s absolutely gut-wrenching. I watched it once, and now I change the channel every time I see it start.”    --Josh

“Anyone in the Washington DC area knows about Easterns Motors and their ads are usually the typical cheesy used car commercial fare. However, they have one “musical” ad that I can’t stop watching. I’m not saying it’s’s so awful that it’s GREAT. It has all kinds of professional athletes from the DC area singing the hip hop style lyrics of this commercial and the sight of Lavar Errington’s giant head sticking out the window of a car, badly lipsynching the line “cars, trucks and miniva-ans” cracks me up every time. The commercial looks like it cost about $25 to make. I’ll stop my Tivo for this one.”    --Christine

More ads we hate

Oh, it's so much fun to dish on the bad ads, isn't it? I dug up some of your emails mentioning horrible commercials we haven't yet debated to death, and in the process, hit on a new topic: Local and regional ads.

They're often made on a shoestring and may feature nonprofessional actors, which can make them charming or incredibly irritating. Send in your favorite and least favorite local commercials, but be sure to sketch out a short description of them, since we haven't all seen them.

You can still vote for your favorite and least favorite ads here, and you can also add to the discussion on our bulletin board.

ADS WE HATE“Most hated commercial: I can’t believe that no one has mentioned the horrible, horrible Dr. Scholls gel insoles commercials. If I hear one more insipid, valium-laden person say they are “gellin’”, I’m going to throw something heavy at my television.”    --Christina

“I can’t believe no one has mentioned the Fruit of the Loom ads. I don’t think I’ve ever seen (or heard) anything so awful. The commercial featuring the Fruit Men in the music video “You can’t Over-Love Your Underwear” is just horrendous. The lyrics, the imagery - and the Fruit men arguing about who has more face time in the video is just NOT funny. Please place this on your worst list!”    --Lisa[Editor's Note: I admit, I like this ad quite a bit. Different strokes...]

“I can’t believe no one has commented on the meteor-proof truck. What terrific fx! It brings our house to a halt in front or the TV every time.”    --Denise

“I can’t believe no one posted the enzyte commercial with Bob as the absolute worst ever. When they play that thing back to back over and over and you have to hear your kids asking “what does wood have to do with this?.’ I’ve blocked every channel this commercial was playing on just to not have to hear about Bob's personal issues anymore. I ended up blocking all but 2 or 3 channels... finally I just called the cable company and had them disconnect it. I don’t even watch TV anymore because of that damn commercial but you know what? I don’t have to explain what Bob’s issues are anymore to my 4 year old.”    --Rob[Editor's Note: Ugh, I hate these too. I think we didn't discuss them this year because we went over them so savagely last summer. Believe me, you're not alone.]

“Commercials I hate. The Liquid Plumr commercial where the glop of drain stuff lands on the dinner plate in France. That one makes me gag. I can’t believe that this commercial has not been mentioned. For me, it is truly gag inducing.”    --Julie

“The horrible, snotty, Jaguar car commercial? It just keeps talking about the word gorgeous. and if you aren’t, you’re nothing. Very elitist, condescending. Can’t believe it hasn’t been mentioned yet. I know they stopped it quick, it was so offensive.”    --Rip

“I’m surprised no one has mentioned the nauseating anti-smoking PSA’s where the animated big-eyed people watch a cat throw up a hairball and then one of them kneels down and puts it in their mouth. Okay - so smokers should quit the filthy habit, but must the rest of us be subjected to stomach turning images to get the point across?”    --Rita

LOCAL ADS WE HATE“I don’t know if this is just a local thing (VA), but I HATE the early morning TV commercials from local car dealers. They are ten times as loud as the local news/weather/sports and are totally obnoxious! When my family needs a new vehicle, I’ll do my comparitive shopping and know where to go, and which make/model will best suit our needs. So, HEY car manufators, “Chill-out, AND STOP MAKING ME SPILL MY COFFEE ALL OVER MYSELF!””    --David

“The worst commercial EVER is, fortunately for the rest of the world, a local ad for MOR Furniture here in the Bakersfield (California) area. The hysterical announcer is positively beside himself as he informs us that this is a once-in-a-lifetime sale — “for the first time ever” — and that we only have “today, tonight, and tomorrow” to take advantage of the “incredible savings.” Of course, the very next week he enthusiastically informs us of yet another once-in-a-lifetime sale.--Mardi

“Absolutely the worst commercial I’ve seen recently (after the Head-On one) is a regional ad for a law firm with a screaming, flashing (in red) “Suicide” at the top of the screen. It’s referring to side effects of psychotrophic drugs. Hideous on all counts.”    --Anonymous

“I don’t know if this commercial is regional or not — others apparently are because I have never seen many that are mentioned on this site. But one commercial series I hate is for Safe Auto. In each commercial, police stop cars and ask for the driver’s license and proof of insurance. The driver seems upset that they asked for this: “Uhh, insurance?” The cops ask “You DO have car insurance, don’t you?” Then the driver whips out his ace: “Of course! I drive with Safe Auto.” And you wonder why they were upset when asked to get the proof of insurance."    --Sarah

“Any of the Sonic commercials really gets me and my girlfriend everytime we see them. The punchline comment with the “sock in the jaw” sound reminds of every sarcastic comment you would expect to hear or make. This may be regional because I don’t think Sonic is everywhere in the US.”    --Martin

Debating good ads

Yesterday we debated the in our poll, today, I'll share some of your comments on the TV commercials that are leading the best-ad poll. As before, I'll share some of your dissenting opinions where I can.

I was surprised by one theme. While the PC vs. Mac ads are doing well in the best-ad survey, the comments that flew in after they appeared in that poll were almost uniformly negative. Maybe the fans of the commercial series had already sent in their raves, or maybe only PC users were reading the column this week, but for whatever reason, I easily had 10 comments from readers who find the Mac ads smug and condescending for every comment from someone who found them funny. Of course, many of those folks admitted to being PC users who found the jabs at their chosen computer insulting, so be that as it may.

I'm a PC user these days myself, but I think the ads are pretty funny. Even funnier though are the zillions of parody ads that have cropped up, many including a sniveling, socially inept guy representing Linux. (I'm not going to link to the parodies, there are plenty, and some are pretty profane, but with that warning, you can certainly Google for them easily enough.)

“My absolute favorites are the California Cheese commercials with the cows--Doris leaving Wisconsin for California, etc. These are on the Food Network, and I come running to see them over and over.”    --Cheryll

OPPOSING VIEW: “Wow, pass the Kool Aid. The Happy Cow ads are some of the most nefarious I've seen, as they clearly have convinced a lot of Americans that the California cheese they buy comes from cows that have ever seen the light of day. Get educated, people: factory farmed cows are brutally treated and kept in deplorable conditions. They're not playing ball or grazing in the grass.”    --Mary

FED EX CAVEMAN“I absolutely love the FedEx commercial where the prehistoric guy gets fired because FedEx isn't around yet, and then he stomps out and gets crushed by a big dinosaur foot. I never stop laughing at that part!”    --Darla

OPPOSING VIEW: “I HATE the caveman Fedex commercial. It's so stupid. And the guy going from not being able to mail his package to being killed is so just so very "hilarious". I don't get how the guy being killed is supposed to make us laugh.”    --Julie

“My friend and I loved [the ad] so much, that we were Geico cavemen craving “roasted duck with the mango salsa” for Halloween last year!”    --Alexandra

OPPOSING VIEW: “The cavemen (with and without mango salsa) come-off as a couple of snobs. Who are they shilling for anyway? The Food Channel? “    --Jim

THEFT-DETERRENT PHONE“I LOVE the Sprint theft deterrent commercial! Whenever it comes on I wait in anticipation for the guy to chuck his phone at his friend's head and I break out in convulsive laughter every single time.”    --Holly

OPPOSING VIEW: “I ABSOLUTELY hate, hate, hate the phone theft deterent lockerroom ad from the first time I saw it... viscerally. It is stupid violence in place of cleverness. This is what the world is coming to? Wit is too great an effort? I didn't like non-stop violence as humor in the Home Alone series and I still hate it here. This commercial is for witless meatheads.”    --Jeff

PETSMART DACHSHUND“The Petsmart commercial with the dachshund and his stuffed toy always puts a smile on my face. When I'm fast forwarding my TiVo, I'll stop & play that commercial if I see it. It's too cute.”    --Megan

MAC VS. PC“Love the Mac vs. PC ads! Very clever concept, very funny. I've seen only a few on TV, but when I found out you can see them all on Apple's website, I went to watch them all - and commercials NEVER interest me like that. This ad campaign is definitely a keeper.”--Karen

OPPOSING VIEW: “I can't believe the Mac vs. PC commercial is in the running for the favorite! It's supposed to be selling Macs, but although the Mac guy is cute, he's so smug and supercilious that I can't stand him. The PC guy is the one I'd rather hang out with. At least he's not going to bore you to death by continually telling you how great he is. Doesn't hurt that the Mac guy is very representative of the Mac users I know!”    --Julie

Debating bad ads

You can check out the poll results so far for yourself. In the HeadON is applying itself directly to readers’ last nerves. In the best-commercial survey, it’s closer, but those are mooing away.

I should note that I’ve also started a , so feel free to post your comments there as well as send them in using the email link below. As with any good online discussion, people are already getting steamed about something, this time, about the fact that some viewers have commented on the Chrysler Dr. Z ads, saying that Dr. Z’s accent is fake when, he is in fact, really German.

Here are some of your comments on the commercials currently in the lead for the worst ad honor. (Tomorrow I’ll publish some of your comments on the best ad nominees.)

And some of you disagreed about these ads, so where I could, I included a dissenting opinion. Hmm, so far no one has written in to defend HeadOn.

‘I have to agree that the worst commercial is for Head-on. It gets stuck in my head--"Head-on apply directly to the forehead" By the time the commercial is over, I need some Headon!”    --Ellen

TAYLOR HICKS FOR FORD“The Taylor Hicks ad for Ford drives me nuts. Can he not stand still? And the way he "sings" the word 'possibility' sounds like 'possibilideeee'. Okay so he can't spell correctly, but surely someone at Ford should know how to spell/pronounce 'possibility'. Sheesh!”    --Sharon

OPPOSING VIEW: “I love Taylor Hicks - it's the most I'll hear of him until his CD comes out. I enjoy him.”    --Mishelle

GEICO CELEBS“I have to agree with Katie on the Geico celebrities ad! I can (almost) tolerate Little Richard and Charo, but the Bacharach ad just turns my stomach! I don't know which is sadder, the jingle he "creates" or the fact that he appears to be a ‘dead man singing’.”  --Betsy

OPPOSING VIEW: “I love the new Geico commercials with Charo, Little Richard, and George Hamilton. They crack me up every time they come on - especially Little Richard singing about Thanksgiving dinner. Like we need more melodrama when we need to use our car insurance!”    --Gretchen

BIG BUCKIN'/HUCKIN' CHICKEN“For the multi-millions of dollars that are attached to an ad campaign, how do the execs at Burger King say "Yeah, we really love this 'Big Bucking Chicken' campaign? Hey, while we're at it, can you include another commercial of talking chickens that repeat themselves incessantly about Chicken Fries?"”    --JMD

OPPOSING VIEW: “Have you seen the new Burger King commercials with the giant chickens? I love them! The first one was a rodeo and this guy saddled a giant chicken while someone sang, "Big...buckin'...chicken. You are are chicken..." that is absolutely the funniest thing I have ever seen because it coincided with the buzz over Brokeback Mountain. Then they had one of a giant chicken riding a dirt bike, "Big Huckin (Spicy) Chicken". Everytime I see those commercials I ALWAYS crack up.”    --Elisha

HUMMER“More than the "Girl Power" Hummer ad I hate the one with the guy at the check-out stand buying a bunch of healthy food and looking over at the guy behind him, who's buying all this "manly man" meat-and-potatoes type food. Feeling less masculine, he goes out and buys a Hummer which proves my theory that any guy who needs a Hummer for reasons other than leading a search and rescue expedition into the wilderness or going into a war zone is insecure about his masculinity.”    --Rachel

Vote for best, worst ads

Two weeks to go in our commercial contest, and some of the same ads keep coming up over and over again in your e-mails. A few trends have emerged, too.

For best ads, you like animals. You especially like cows -- from California's talking cows to Carl's Jr's milkshake-shaking cows. You also like dogs, especially cute puppies buying Petsmart toys or killing fleas wth K9 Advantix. You also like cavemen, for whatever reason, from FedEx's hapless caveguy who gets stomped by a big ol' dinosaur to Geico's modern-day cavemen who order roast duck with mango salsa.

In the bad ad department, we discover that you don't like ALL animals. Specifically, you don't like animals with accents -- like the Nasonex bee, or the Geico gecko. You're not especially fond of people with accents shilling for cars, either -- from Germany's Dr Z for Chrysler to Alabama's Taylor Hicks for Ford. You don't like ads that repeat the same thing over and over and over and over and over again, such as ads for HeadOn or Fanta. Fast-food ads offer some frustration, from Wendy's Sensational Salads to Burger King's Big Buckin'/Big Huckin' Chicken. (He's "Buckin'" in some ads, "Huckin'" in others, which led to plenty of people who'd only seen one version writing in to correct readers who were commenting on the other version.)

I've created two polls, asking you to choose your most- and least-favorite ad out of a dozen options. Yes, there are plenty more ads on each side that have been suggested, but we've got to narrow it down somehow. (If I've missed a major contender on either side, go ahead, send it in, there's still time.)

Subway Dinner Theater ads with Jon Lovitz have you so divided that they are the only ad campaign to make it onto both polls. Geico also shows up on both sides, but with different ads (two on the "worst ad" poll, one on the "best ad" poll).

So vote away, and keep the e-mails coming. Our commercial contest isn't over yet!

Multi-link Monday

Monday comes around again, and with it another gift package of five random links. And for those of you following the summer commercial contest, we've finally got an end date. We'll name the best and worst ads on Tuesday, Aug. 22. So get those nominations in now.

Once more, unto the links.

• Already excited about which opens Aug. 18? in which Samuel L. Jackson addresses them by name (well, if they have a common name), lists off some of their personal traits, and urges them to go see "Snakes." Hilariously addictive. (Thanks to Amy for the link!)

• Spotted this weekend on a church sign near me: "CH__CH. WHAT'S MISSING? U R!" Ha ha ha. Ha? My favorite is actually from years ago, when I spotted one that said "God loves kneel mail." I thought about that one for a while and came to the conclusion that they quite possibly meant "knee mail," to rhyme with "e-mail," but "kneel mail" is kind of funnier. Anyway, you can try and do them one better by using the . You can also peruse their .

• Those of us who work on computers but need a little brush-up can consult . I especially love of the "small digital computer designed for the businessman." Uh, "small" in the sense that I honestly would not have enough room for that giant setup in my cubicle today.

• I tried to link to this last week, but was having trouble accessing the site. It's back up now, it seems: . I know a lot of people hated the movie, but the last seconds of "The Blair Witch Project" freaked me out. I also would have put über-creepy "Se7en" on the list somewhere.

• I know some readers especially love the online tests and quizzes. Reader Alan sends in , which poses a series of true/false trivia questions and invites you to challenge yourself. True or false? "The official name of the Pillsbury Doughboy advertising icon is 'Yeasty'." (Answer: Oh come on, .)