Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
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How I Met Your Bad Advertising
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on May 31, 2006   |   Episode 23 (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 ...
Renovation Products Genesis Catalog
It's fun to look back at the generations that came before us and see what predictions they made for the distant future. Looking back now we see that our fathers and grandfathers predicted that we would be colonizing the moon, television would be in 3D, and most importantly, we would have flying cars. Where are our flying cars? This advertisement for Renovation (the makers of Gaiares) makes some predictions, too ... and wouldn't you know it, their predictions came true!

In this advertisement we go 40 years into the future (well, 25 years for us, but this advert is from 1991) and spy on a middle aged man who is getting in some much needed me time. After 40 years Dan, the balding gamer in the picture, finally has a TV that will allow him to play all of his favorite games at once. But it didn't take Sony, Zenith, and all the other TV manufacturers 40 years to develop that TV ... it actually came out just a few years after this commercial was featured in GamePro.

These days widescreen TVs are quickly becoming the standard and just about every one of them features some sort of picture-in-picture option. Renovation predicted a technology that would actually become reality, long before they said it would. But there's still one problem, neither technology nor Renovation have come out with a way to play more than one game at the same time. Dan may have a giant TV (with a bunch of picture-in-picture boxes), but he's still sporting two hands. Figure that one out you scientists!

The Game Handler
Now here's a control that would be perfect for Dan in that Renovation advert; it's a one-handed game control that would allow him to play two games at once. It's the Game Handler, "the only hand-held controller you only need one hand to play." Ouch, talk about a terrible catchphrase. No wonder this NES accessory never caught on. With a catchphrase like that you almost expect to see a one-armed man or a senior citizen's guide to working the television. Unfortunately what we get is this crummy video game controller.

So let's see this amazing Game Handler. Oh, that's right; this advertisement doesn't actually show us the control. All we see is a very dark device that kind of looks like an electric shaver. You can see a hand holding it, but it's just too dark to see where the buttons are, where the D-pad is, and all the other important pieces of information you would want to know. Of all the bad advertisements I have seen, this is probably the worst lit. Is it too much to ask for a little lighting on the product so that we can see what it looks like? It's not a good sign when the company that makes the accessory doesn't want you to see it!

Another problem I have with this advertisement is that it tells you that "the game has changed." At one point it out and out asks if you can handle the "new universe at hand." But there isn't a new universe at hand, just the same old universe you've played with two hands. You may have switched your control but that doesn't mean you're going to play new games, this isn't a magic control ... just a one-handed pad. Damn you Game Handler, first you tease me with your shadows and now you out and out lie to me, why do I put up with you?

Official Nuby Products
It's funny how a word like "Nuby" can change over the years. Fifteen years ago it meant nothing; it was just the name of this video game accessory maker. But if you're called a "Nuby" today then chances are it's because you suck at the online game you're playing (or the other people are just being jerks, which seems like a possibility). After studying this advertisement for Official Nuby Products I am left with the feeling that even fifteen years ago if somebody called you a "Nuby" it probably wasn't a compliment.

We've seen this type of advert before, it's your basic before and after test that shows a loser and then a cool kid. In the before picture we see some kid with broken glasses, a pocket protector, and pants that are way too short (and slightly uneven). The after picture shows that with the Official Nuby Products your eyesight will improve, you will buy more comfortable shoes, and you will always have a place to put your pens. Oh, and you'll harness the powers of levitation so that you'll never have to bend over and pick up your stupid Game Boy add-ons!

But forget the accessories for a minute, what the hell are you wearing?? Where is your fashion integrity, kid? You're sporting a purple shirt with a blue horizontal stripe ... and it has a zipper! Come on now, you and I both know you can't look cool with a zipper on your shirt. And you have your collar up, like you're a badass. And then there's those pants, what are you trying to prove with crime against nature? Those aren't even jeans; they are sweatpants with a silly design on them. And what's worse, they don't even fit you. I'm starting to think that this kid looked better in the before picture. Enough, I can't take it anymore!

Kick Off (Mega Drive)
For our final advert we didn't just go back in time, we had to go across the pond to jolly ol' England to bring you this crummy advertisement for Super Kick Off. Now here's a confusing product, it's a soccer game released by U.S. Gold. What does the U.S. know about soccer? You might as well have the Japanese develop arena football games for us. And why is Super Kick Off for the Mega Drive (Genesis)? Shouldn't it be on the Super NES, the name certainly implied that?

But my problems with Super Kick Off are more than just the name and who makes it, it's the whole idea of the United States with zero and England at 57. I don't have a problem that England is beating us; my problem is that playing against the American soccer team isn't much to brag about ... we suck. When you're going up against the worst soccer players in the world you're bound to score a lot of goals!

And you know what? We don't care! That's right, we Americans don't care if you beat us 57 to 0 ... because we hate soccer. Oh, I'm sure there are a few Americans out there that enjoy a good old fashioned zero - zero tie, but most Yankees would rather watch football, baseball, and NASCAR. Heck, chances are they would rather watch people poker than sit through an entire 90 minute soccer match. This advertisement would work better if it pitted England against another team (country) that took this sport as seriously as they do. We Americans put soccer just below underwater fire starting when asked what our favorite pastimes are.


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