Terrible Commercials Running Now

In a recent post, I wrote about my favorite TV commercial campaigns running now. This post is the exact opposite of that. Let’s get to it.

Most Commercials from State Farm

Commercials can be bad for a number of reasons, two of which State Farm is guilty:

  1. They try to be funny but aren’t.
  2. They try to promote products and features in situations that aren’t realistic.

It’s great that State Farm’s customer service representatives are available 24/7, but who ever calls them in the middle of the night, in the dark, from their living room?


It’s awesome that your customers can diagram accidents with a mobile app and file a claim on the spot, but who does that so calmly? Where’s the other car in the accident? And who really thinks that everything on the Internet is true? Come on.


Would you stop on the side of a random road in the boonies, where buffalo roam wildly, to eat lunch? Where is this place and who are these guys?


Not all of their commercials are bad, as I do enjoy the Chris Paul / Cliff Paul ads, like this one. But the bad ads outnumber the good ads by a huge margin, and the badness is compounded by the fact that they’re played over and over and over again.

GEICO’s “Happier Than” Campaign

For the most part, I really like GEICO’s advertising. They have a clean, crisp tagline – “Fifteen minutes can save you 15% on car insurance”. They’ve created iconic characters like the gecko, the caveman, and Maxwell the pig. And overall, their ads are funny and on point.

But I’m just not a fan of their “Happier Than” campaign. I get the message behind the ads – comparing their customers’ happiness to those in more comical situations – but spots like “Witch in a Broom Factory” (below) and “Hump Day” just aren’t funny to me. And I wouldn’t have any idea that the commercial was for insurance if it didn’t say GEICO at the end. I’m looking forward to their next campaign just to be done with this one.


Burger King

Burger King has had a tough stretch in advertising for a while now, and it’s shown in the company’s performance over the last few years.

Before 2011, when Crispin Porter & Bogusky was their agency of record, BK had really cutting-edge, provocative commercials but the strategy of targeting “bros” was a massive mistake for the quick service restaurant (QSR). As a result, their sales and market share dropped over that time period while McDonald’s and Wendy’s grew, and BK dropped from the #2 burger chain, with Wendy’s claiming that spot.

Now their ads are much more tame but almost equally ineffective. The strategy of focusing more on the food caters to a much broader audience, which is what a huge QSR should do, and the tone of their ads are more muted. But spots like Word Association and Soft Serve (see below), while highlighting the food more, don’t connect with anyone in particular and just aren’t memorable, which is a death knell for many commercial campaigns.



So there you have it – the commercials that I like the least right now. What are some that you don’t like? Let me know in the comments.

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2 thoughts on “Terrible Commercials Running Now

  1. I can’t stand those State Farms commercials. So irrelevant, ridiculous and you’re right…unrealistic! Some of the Geico ones are pretty funny. I think the Hump Day is hilarious and there’s one with Dikembe Mutombo that I crack up on. I don’t like the gecko ones as much but the pig one is pretty funny! I really dislike Microsoft ads. I believe it’s for their laptops? It’s so obvious the market they are going for and they are overshooting it with crappy music and dancing that it’s just plain tacky.

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