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New Adventures of Bad Advertising
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on January 11, 2006   |   Episode 13 (Show Archive)  

   
While digging through all of my old magazines for inspiration and reference I discovered that there are a lot of awesomely great advertisements that have been completely forgotten. Instead of keeping this gold mine to myself I decided to talk about four of these old advertisements each and every week. And so was born the Commercial Break, a place where I can really let them know what I think of their adverts! Looks like we have four of them right here ...
Perfect Dark Zero (Xbox 360)
In this episode of the Commercial Break we are focusing our attention on new advertising. We're shying away from the old sauce for a little while to prove that video game companies still don't know how to advertise their products. We're starting this episode with one of the newest games on the market, Perfect Dark Zero. This Xbox 360 game has only been out for a couple of months but as far as we're concerned that's long enough for us to rip them to shreds. No matter where you come down on Rare's long awaited sequel, pretty much everybody agrees that Perfect Dark Zero is no Halo-killer. Unfortunately the same can be said about this lousy ad campaign.

The tagline says it all, "2020. Corporations Control Everything." As opposed to now, 2006, where corporations have no say?? We're living in an age where the corporations control everything, starting with the media and going all the way up to the government. Lobbyists on K Street are ready to hook corporate donors up with members of the government; they even have an influence when it comes to changing laws. While I can certainly imagine how this could all get worse (or maybe just more transparent), I don't see why it would be any more of a threat in 2020 than it is in 2006. "Corporations Control Everything," well, just remember who you're making this game for ... a company with some political clout and a media outlet.

While I'm complaining about nuance, perhaps it's time for me to vent about this new look for Joanna Dark. I don't like it. Not at all. Years ago when they introduced her she had more of an anime feel, that was fine. This new Joanna Dark just isn't doing anything for me. The picture of her in this commercial is a prime example; I know she's supposed to look sexy here, but I just feel she looks more like Hedwig and the Angry Inch! And for the record, she doesn't wear gloves in the game ... but maybe we shouldn't expect the art department to notice the finer details.

Tony Hawk's American Wasteland
Hey Tony Hawk, why are you so angry? You've had eight different games named after you, you've turned skateboarding into a career, and you're liked by just about everybody regardless of their ages. Why are you so angry, and what did that ground do to you to? Don't throw your skateboard, that's not going to help anything. It's not like he just crashed, he's wearing new pants and a fresh promotional tee-shirt. And the shoes, they don't look scuffed at all. I think Tony Hawk is just mad, mad that he has to get paid millions of dollars to promote a game that I had to review twice! Oh wait, why would he be mad about that?

I really don't like this commercial, and not just because it features the nicest guy in extreme sports pretending to be pissed at something. This advert really has very little to say, it doesn't talk about the changes to the game, it just has a mostly white background and a faux-angry Tony Hawk. Oh, and there's that quote from Yahoo! Games saying that it's the "biggest leap forward yet". Obviously they weren't talking about Tony Hawk's American Wasteland.

But back to my original question, why is this Tony Hawk so angry? If anything Tony Hawk's American Wasteland is a cheerier adventure, especially when compared to the recent Underground series. And I know it's not politically correct or anything, but isn't Tony Hawk getting kind of old for this type of thing? And the Hawkman is barely in American Wasteland ... oh wait, maybe that's what he's so pissed about. Don't be, it wasn't very good anyway.

SBK: Snowboard Kids (Nintendo DS)
I'm not sure if you remember the Snowboarding Kids and their Nintendo 64 racing game. It was a mediocre game that felt like a slight variation on the Super Mario Kart theme, a game that most people have since forgotten about. Apparently Atlus remembered this ancient title decided to resurrect it for the Nintendo DS. The "Kids" in the original game were actually kids, but these "kids" are slightly more developed, and certainly not as innocent as they once were. I mean, they're on a ski vacation away from the adults ... this can only lead to one thing. Unfortunately I have a feeling it's going to lead to a lot of snowboarding and nothing torrid. Atlus, you're such a tease.

But this commercial isn't about sexual deviance; it has a whole different liquid on its mind ... urine! That's right; SBK's tag line references you peeing your pants because the game is so damn intense. "Snowboarding action so intense, you'll make yellow snow." If it's really that intense how do they have time to, well, whip it out and make the yellow snow?? And what about the women, will they be making the yellow snow too? And how intense can this be? It's called Snowboarding Kids; if it was really THAT intense it would have the word "Extreme" in it somewhere.

Now I'm not here to question what the youth of today is supposed to wear, but since when did it become hip to wear a bandage on your cheek? I know the New York punks would have a clothespin in their cheek, but that's a whole different story (and better suited for that Tony Hawk's American Wasteland commercial). Although the bandage is interesting, I can't stop looking at the Jamaican kid. How can this not be an offensive stereotype? I look at him and get the feeling that they had to edit out the marijuana cigarette he's smoking just to get the commercial in GamePro. Fight the Power!

Wal*Mart: GameCube Promotion
This is not the type of commercial we usually see in the Commercial Break, it's an advert that is really two commercials in one. On one hand this is a commercial for Nintendo's GameCube and the game Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, but you can't forget that this is also an advert for Wal*Mart, a company that really knows very little about video games. Wal*Mart is far from my favorite retailer, but I assure you that my hatred of them has nothing to do with me selection this commercial. This is a horrible commercial, and I would say that regardless of whom it was advertising.

It would be one thing if this advert was just stupid, but this is one commercial that is fairly confusing. There are a lot of ways you could go when it comes to advertising the GameCube and Metroid, but I bet nobody else considered comparing the GameCube to a sugar cube. Or, if they had, they quickly sobered up and realized it was an awful idea that doesn't help anybody involved. So let me get this straight, they've shrunk your "average teenager" down to make him perform the tedious task of putting GameCubes in a bowl with a HUGE spoon. Who thought this would be an effective commercial? Is their target audience people who suffer from OCD and can't stand sugar cubes lying on the table.

Maybe I've just been looking at this commercial for too long, but why does that teenager need a giant spoon? Wouldn't it just be easier for him to go up and grab the GameCube and throw it on top of the pile?? It's the GameCube; for crying out loud it has a handle build right in! This is really an indictment on the intelligence of our youth, how stupid does this guy have to be to not just grab it by the handle? Or maybe it's not the youth, it's those Wal*Mart shoppers they are talking about. Either way, playtime is over for this kid it's time for him to get back to studying!
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