Tuesday, January 10, 2006

On making the world that much Crappier

Okay, so now that we're solidly into 2006 without any real chance of slipping back into ought-five, we can safely look back at the good and the bad of the last year. There has been a lot of both, specifically the bad, specifically on TV, specifically between the actual shows. Grab your tux, strap yourself into that evening gown, 'cause it's time to honor the most obnoxious ads of 2005. That's right, ladies and gentlemen - it's the 2005 Crappys.

Now, I have to start with a singular honor. This year's Lifetime Achievement Award goes to local advertising as a whole. No other subset of the advertising industry has shown such consistent lousiness over a period of several decades. Between poor production quality, poor writing, absolutely lousy acting, and an insistence on using jingles (we'll discuss this later), local advertising always comes out at the absolute bottom of the crap heap. I'd love to hand out some advice at this point (for instance, that no one thinks your grandchildren/pets are as cute as you do; that people are not more likely to buy cars if you shout at them; that adding that "personal touch" by appearing in your own ads really only ads a dose of "lousy acting"), but something tells me that you wouldn't take it anyway.

On to the awards.

This year's Crappy for Worst Directing in a Regional or National Commercial goes to TD Waterhouse. Sam Waterston is looking at the camera. Now he isn't. Now he's looking at something over there. Now he's looking into Camera 1, and now he's still looking into Camera 1 but Camera 2 is filming. Why TD Waterhouse feels the need to sell their investments with MTV-music-video-ADHD editing, I don't know, but it's enough to earn them a Crappy.

The Crappy for Worst Music goes to Applebee's. Applebee's has a long history of coopting popular music for their own nefarious purposes. Their most recent has been their "Bad Case of Loving Two" for some kind of sampler platter (I wasn't paying attention; there's your effective advertising, Applebee's), but I think that the most egregious was the ripping off of Robert Palmer for their "Simply Irresistabowl." Both obnoxious and reaching.

The Crappy for Worst Writing is a tough one to give out, because it goes against a longstanding tradition in the advertising world: the jingle. I hate to say it, folks, but the jingle is dead. Maybe once upon a time, it was necesssary for housewives to wander the supermarket looking for Libby's, Libby's, Libby's on the label, label, label, but these days, anything your feel like singing you could just as easily say. Let me say it again: anything you feel like singing you could just say.

One of the worst violators, and most deserving of a Crappy, is Charmin Ultra Freshmates, which you might remember as "flushable freshness you can get behind." In case anyone hasn't figured it out yet, this refers to ass filth. Their new wet product is sold as a prime remover of the residue that remains after defecation, and they're going to sing about it, the kind of song that burrows into your ear and leaves you humming about a "cleaner clean" when you're trying to do an expense report. This is, of course, their goal, but there is not enough lipstick in the world to pretty up that pig: you're humming about ass filth. And despite their insistent jingling, I still don't use Charmin, because Cottonelle doesn't sing to me about ass filth. Or dancing cartoon bears.

The Crappy for Worst Actor goes to an ad you either love or you hate: it's that damn stupid Nasonex bee. Why, Antonio Banderas, why? I understand that Mel's collagen injections must require a lot of maintenance, but if she needs the money, let her do the lousy voiceovers. You were smokin' hot in both Zorro movies, you even made Puss in Boots ever so slightly sexy, and now? "Won't anythink help trett my seassonal nassal allergy seemptoms?" You were hot, Antonio, you were hot.

Sigh. Let's keep moving. The Crappy for Worst Actress is a first this year, going to a regional ad rather than a national. It takes a lot for a regional to make it into the Crappys, because they have so much competition at their own level and because they rarely meet the CPM (crappiness per thousand impressions) standards of the more widely viewed ads. The crappiness of this ad, though, can be seen from space; it's for TitleMax. I don't know what bothers me the most about this girl: the white eyeshadow, the brown lipliner, the little dance with the head-flip at the end, the giggle. Probably the giggle. "TitleMax got your muuuhney, your muuuuhney, your real muuuhney. Hee hee!" As opposed, we're meant to assume, to the Monopoly Money handed out by other title lenders.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for: the Worst Ad of 2005. The lovely Tom Brady is bringing me the envelope (thanks, Tom; I'll see you after the show) - this is so exciting - drumroll, please...

Dr. Scholl's Gel Insoles!

The truth is, there wasn't much competition for that one. There is not currently, and to my knowledge there has never been, a campaign as completely, totally, teeth-grindingly, hair-pullingly, heavy-drinkingly, put-your-foot-through-the-television-and-then-set-it-on-fire obnoxious as the "gellin'" ad campaign. This pathetic attempt to make a foot product into something trendy and hip is a blatant insult to the entire viewing community and should be punished with lengthy imprisonment. If this ad were shown to detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Donald Rumsfeld himself would protest the abject cruelty. Each ad is a 30-second What Not to Do for ad students. Those ads are so awful, they make me sad.

Dr. Scholl's Gel Insoles would like to thank their mama and Elvis.

That's it, folks. Thanks so much for coming. If I've missed any really crappy ads this year, feel free to point them out in the comments so that they can get their proper recognition. And keep your eyes peeled for truly lousy ads in the coming months; we're rarely lacking for nominees, but few ads are really crappy enough to be worthy of a Crappy. Good night, and God bless.

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