Things that should be banned from ads: the definitive list

Sourced from my brain and twitter. Join in with #shouldbebannedfromads

  • People doing accents that aren’t their own
  • Opera singers
  • Dumping out the contents of a bag into the bin to represent having a big poo 
  • “XYZ just got better” and ALL VARIANTS THEREOF
  • Blue liquid to represent blood or wee
  • Men being endearingly hopeless at household tasks or caring for children
  • Pretend testimonials from actors (take note, toothpaste ads)
  • Children whispering
  • Bullshit stats like “72% of 8 women who tested this product agreed”
  • Mascara ads filmed with fake eyelashes
  • “Up to X% more effective.” “Up to” includes 0% dammit!
  • Brand ambassadors
  • Meerkats
  • Made up words. L’oreal’s “MILLIONIZER” and Three’s “INTERNETTING” are particularly irksome
  • Choirs and, in fact, all types of singing
  • Slow-mo sneezing (“that’s just nasty”)
  • Pseudoscientific names (one example was “hydrofidrpolylypicides”, haha)
  • “Designed for humans” – well, OBVIOUSLY
  • Horror movie trailers when you’re home alone and scared
  • Filming starving African children with a £5000 camera, then trying to make us feel bad for them
  • Impressive but obvious word-weaselry: “here at Shell, we design fuel that works on a molecular level” …Duh
  • “Like us on Facebook” as a call to action
  • Bowels, the word “poo”, talk of bloody poo or bloody stools
  • People staring in wonderment at absurdly ugly cars
  • Orgasm-faces while eating
  • Classic songs rewritten about the brand
  • Any and all songs we actually like (Blur’s “The Universal” will never be the same again)
  • Jean Claude van Damme’s mullet
  • Fake job titles – as in “Hi, I’m Rick, a gum maintenance specialist”
  • Children as adults
  • Airbrushing
  • Terrible erection metaphors – like deflating balloons to represent being terminally bonerless
  • Cats being smarter than dogs, in turn being smarter than men
  • Ads written to win awards, not sell products
  • Hashtags. I don’t entirely agree with this one, but I will say misused hashtags
  • Adverts for adverts! What is this?! I’ve seen an ad for a Paranormal Activity ad three times this week!
  • Talking animals
  • The idea that you ‘deserve’ or ‘are worth’ a product
  • Sean Bean’s voice
  • Matt Berry’s voice (who is Matt Berry, you ask? Just imagine a BIG, EPIC BRITISH VOICE, VERY MANLY, PROBABLY TALKING ABOUT MOUSTACHES. There you go.)
  • Carol Vorderman
  • QR codes
  • Unrealistically attractive call centre fem-bots
  • Plinky-plonky music (sorry @paulruk, but I don’t agree that it’s OK for Google and Apple!)
  • Gross ads at teatime
  • The word “bloating”
  • The word “lovely”
  • Irritating sound effects on radio ads. Especially bloody alarm clocks and bike bells

Three from @tomcopy that particularly made me laugh:

  • Supernaturally good-looking guy strokes clinically clean-shaven chin, smiles at self in mirror, woman comes up behind
  • Humorously age-inappropriate behaviours (babies rollerskating, grannies rapping etc)
  • ‘At [brand], we believe [improbable principle]. That’s why we [tenuous link to product/service]’

And the most rage-inducing:

  • MIS-SOLD PPI. HAVE YOU BEEN MIS-SOLD PPI? PPI? PPI?! PPI! AAAARGH
  • The Go Compare man (big surprise)
  • POEMS, argh. And I’d like to add: song lyrics read as poems
  • Awful dubbing – the new Captain Morgan ad was mentioned several times
  • Stephen Fry EVERYWHERE
  • Brad Pitt for Chanel – new but fantastically unpopular

So there we have it, adland. All the stuff we’re not allowed to do for a while if we want our friends and countrymen to stay sane and not hate us. Well, more than they do already.

If I’ve missed anything that should definitely be banned from ads, add it in the comments.

[Massive thanks to all these lovely twitter people: @djtommytrouble, @HWmadeeasy, @holly_smithxxxx, @alexandervelky, @pwcfreelance, @chalkey79, @jacksleight, @stuandrob, @jonofthesouth, @annatullx, @suchak_, @the_chadd, @nnnomi, @stevie_kemm, @itsconor_ithink, @smh627, @joe_n1nety, @sam_20man, @mattdenton96, @30sumat, @ohforfucksam, @joannaax, @melissa_garratt, @mrharrymay, @downatheel, @akramsohaib, @lozgriffin, @stevenashworth, @waqas_1990, @conorjriverol, @laylanewman, @cherylyy, @carlajackson__, @emmawalpole22, @brianmathabela, @caitlinblount, @alconcalcia, @ericledford, @emilyd628, @dazgale, @iamatapdog, @eloise1104, @rhiannoncoats, @im_danclarke, @uchihadams, @oorightt, @brokensmiles_, @pawwow, @andyrae92, @keithgrimes, @blueb3rry_, @jordanxbuchanan, @tippett1996, @jemgillam, @saritaamy, @tomcopy, @digital_pariah, @baldtel, @andywilletts, @danmallerman, @larnerc, @jonnohopkins, @betarish, @james_l_thomas, @alextheboy, @hairingtons, @paulruk, @thedukeofbork, @nealedenaro, @dedhedzed, @rowan_kby].

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11 thoughts on “Things that should be banned from ads: the definitive list

  1. hjonesy says:

    Can we please also add women who envy the lifestyle of their friends because they eat a certain brand of yoghurt.
    In fact, just add women being vacuous dicks who are perceived to care about nothing more than the texture of their hair, the cleanliness of their kitchen tops, their houses not smelling of damp dog/poo/smelly feet, and that their lady-garden is trimmed immaculately.

  2. Emily says:

    I read this whole list thinking to myself ‘oh, that one is the worst – no wait, that one’s definitely the worst – oh my god, now that one has to be the worst’. Conclusion: these things are all the worst.

    Mascara adverts with fake eyelashes or when it says ‘edited in post production’ – now they can fuck off. Why should I buy your mascara when I could instead buy false lashes and/or Photoshop?

  3. Kimmo Linkama says:

    Two additions (Steve, hope I’m not aggravating your agony…)

    1) Washing powder commercials with tests where terribly soiled T-shirts become shining white by just soaking them in Acme Stain Remover.

    2) Car commercials with the fake licence plates. Yeah, it’s cute that the image can be mirrored for markets where they drive on the other side of the road, but because such plates don’t exist anywhere, why bother with them in the first place?

  4. @danMclark says:

    Those really bad tv show sponsors that have no story to them, and are aired for a grand total of 5 seconds before the regular ads come on.

    • copybot says:

      Ah yes. Those are called “idents” or “break bumpers” and are almost universally terrible. It’s hard to make a good ad in five seconds, especially when people who like that show will see it hundreds of times, but that doesn’t excuse some of the worst ones.

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