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Commercial Break
Bad Advertising on the Sunset Strip
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on July 17, 2006   |   Episode 26 (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 ...
Microplay Video Games
Okay, I've said this before and I'm probably going to have to say it until I can no longer talk, but to everybody who ever wants to design a video game advertisement there's just one thing you have to remember -- DON'T FEATURE BODILY FLUIDS! No pee, no poop, no snot and absolutely, under no circumstance, no vomit. I'm serious people, there's just no need for vomit in video game adverts; nobody wants to see it and it's not going to help you sell your product. And really, it's just plain gross!

And just in case you didn't notice that you were looking at vomit, Microplay decided to be subtle and toss in the phrase, "I'm so excited I think I'm going to ... " So, what is Microplay anyway?? From this advertisement you might think they make games for bulimics. Or maybe they make fishing games that make you sea sick? Nope ... actually Microplay Video Games is a store that buys, rents, trades, and repairs video games and systems.

To make all of these even stranger; Microplay's slogan is the confusing, "We Interrupt Your Regular Programming." You do? For what, us to vomit out soup?? The more you look at this advertisement the less you actually want to visit the store it's promoting. It's the little things around the advert that make it disgusting, that and the fact that there was somebody out there who thought this was a really good way to get the word out about Microplay. Speaking of which, has anybody heard from Microplay recently?? I didn't think so.

Mohawk & Headphones (SNES)
Back in the mid 1990s it was easy to get a side scrolling mascot game made. But after Mario, Sonic, Bubsy, Aero, Sparkster, and the two or three thousand other mascot characters, there just weren't a lot of cute little animals worth making a game about. But that didn't stop the makers of Mohawk & Headphones, they decided to ignore the animal family all together and focus on ... two nude men??

There's not a lot of information to glean from this advertisement, but I can tell you right now that the heroes of this adventure aren't doing much for me. We have two nude dudes with Mohawks running around with headphones on. Headphones?? Are you kidding me, was every other idea in the world already taken? Usually when you read the name of a platformer it tells you what you're going to be doing, but what does Mohawk & Headphone Jack tell me? Are our heroes going to go around giving out extremely outdated haircuts to their enemies? And what is music going to do? Oh wait, the name is just Headphone Jack, so that doesn't even mean he's listening to music. I can't even imagine what these people were thinking when they created such stupid characters.

And that's not the worst part, nowhere on this advertisement does it say what system the game is on. All it says is that it's "Revolutionary," which is why there's a mech with a smiley face, a flying head, and ... hey, is that Mother Brain from Metroid?? Oh c'mon Solid Software, this game isn't "Revolutionary," it's just lame. We may have finally hit the bottom of the barrel for mascot games. You can bash on Bubsy and Aero the Acrobat all day, but at least they had more than one game (and you knew what system their games were for). But seriously, why would you make a mascot out of two nude men??

STD - Attitude
By now you almost expect us to have an advert for STD in each episode. We've already covered this company (and it's terrible accessories) numerous times in the pages of Commercial Break, but that doesn't mean we're done talking about them. There is one thing I will promise you, I'll do my best not to make fun of the name "STD." Hey, that's more than you would normally get from me.

So this is their "Attitude" advertisement, a commercial that is supposed to show STD as being hip and totally with it. So what did they do to appeal to the kids?? They gave us this picture of three teenagers fooling around at a construction site. Despite the signs that tell you to "Keep Out" and beware of "Danger," these kids are here to show you that they have attitude. But how is putting your life in danger attitude? Attitude is the way you come off to others, it's the bravado that you have. Hanging out where you're not supposed to doesn't mean you have attitude ... it just means that you don't care much for your safety.

The slogan states that you should, "Push It To The Edge - Have More Fun." But this advert makes it look like that fun they are talking about is about to be replaced with severe pain and a trip to the hospital. For one thing the kid in the wheelbarrow is about to be dumped over (and he doesn't look happy about it), and that other kid (the one who appears to be dazed and confused) probably needs his stomach pumped. All this leads to the most important question of them all: what the hell does this have to do with stupid looking Game Gear and Game Boy accessories??

Iron Helix (Sega CD)
This Iron Helix advertisement is the type of commercial I usually lead with ... but I just couldn't let the start of our show have all of the fun, it's best to end this Commercial Break on a high note. This is one of those commercials that you look at and laugh and then just flip to the next page. But the more you look at it the more things you see wrong with its logic. And that is why this is a perfect game to end on.

So let's start with the painfully obvious - the dude shouldn't be scared about a giant spaceship shooting at him. Why? Because he's in space in a tee-shirt and jeans ... no space suit and mask with oxygen going to it. In this situation he should be a little more worried about running out of air and floating in space than getting shot to death. You might want to worry about that terrible fashion sense, too ... oh, what am I saying, before you had a chance to think about how stupid it was to go out into space with a tee-shirt and acid washed jeans you would already be dead.

And that's not all ... this commercial clearly shows you (as illustrated by one of the stupidest people to ever go into space) screaming. What good is screaming going to do, moron? Didn't you watch Alien (or at least look at the movie poster)? "In Space No One Can Hear You Scream." Not even if you're wearing jeans and a short sleeve shirt. You know what, just let the space ship kill you, it would be better for humanity if everybody this stupid was gunned down by a spaceship. I can only imagine how much better our society would be. Let the killing begin!!


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