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Commercial Break
Rockstar: Bad Advertising
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on August 09, 2006   |   Episode 27 (Show Archive)  

While digging through all of my old magazines for inspiration and reference I discovered that there are a lot of awesomely bad 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 these companies know what I think of their adverts! Looks like we have four of them right here ...
Wolfenstein 3D (S-NES)
Come on people, how hard can it be to make a good Wolfenstein 3D advertisement? Last November we cringed at the blatant racism found in a Wolfenstein 3D advertisement, and now I'm stuck with another commercial that offends my sense of taste. Thankfully this advertisement isn't nearly as bad as what we're used to, but it still brings up a lot of interesting questions. For example, I would like to know what happened to this guy's eyes. Either that is too much make-up or is he missing an eye? In fact, for a guy in the middle of a war zone he has a nice and clean look to him. It looks to me like his hair has been washed with both shampoo and conditioner, and those clothes look pretty fresh if you ask me. What is this guy's secret?

But forget all of that for a minute, perhaps the strangest thing about this advertisement are the two different quotes. One of them states, "Fun Factor -5.0". Negative 5.0?? That's terrible! I didn't even think they could give games negatives; it almost makes you want to play the game to find out what makes the fun factor so damn bad. The other quote goes as far as to give it a -10, which is really mean. Even if the game is terrible it still doesn't deserve the harsh criticism, and why anybody would put these terrible scores in an advertisement is beyond me.

And what's going on with those guns? This is World War II; you're doing your best to kill a certain madman named Hitler. So why does he have contemporary weapons? I've played enough World War II first-person shooters to know what guns they did and did not have, and I'm pretty sure this guy is packing some futuristic heat. What are these advertisements trying to hide? It seems like the Wolfenstein 3D ad campaign is going out of its way to distance itself from World War II. At least this version of the commercial isn't racist.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (PS1)
Sometimes I really hate my job. I hate being forced to play games and then write about them all day. I hate being forced to find new examples of bad advertising to satisfy the masses. I hate being sent video games and expected to play them. That's right, I hate my job. Oh wait ... no I don't. I actually like all that stuff. But there is one thing that I do hate; I hate it when major retailers lie about a game just to get you to buy it. Yeah, that's what I hate.

This is exactly what Target did when they ran this advertisement for The Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. They took an already good game and tried to make it something it's not. This entire advertisement is about playing games with friends, partaking in a little of the old multiplayer. They show you statistics when fighting against various animals, they give you hints about playing against other people and they suggest you get in some father/son time. The only problem is that The Legacy o f Kain: Soul Reaver is not a two-player game.

The real problem I have with this advertisement is that this could have been a perfectly good commercial. Had this advert promoted GoldenEye 007 or some Street Fighter II collection then it would have made sense, but all we're left with is another example of the left hand not talking to the right. A cynic might use this to illustrate the point that large retailers like Target know very little about our industry. That person would be right.

Parker Bros. 1-900 Number
Ah, the bathroom stall. Nothing sells your product better than an advertisement that reminds you of what it looks like when you're doing your business at a bar. The graffiti and inappropriate jokes, the phone numbers and that bad smell in the air; it's just one fond memory after another. Apparently that's exactly what Parker Brothers was going for with this advertisement for their phone service. This 1-900 number will cost you fifty cents per call, but knowing that somebody thought it was a good idea to parody a sleazy bathroom stall is priceless.

The inherent problem with this advertisement is that people rarely get their information from the graffiti on the wall. I don't care how much time they put into writing that crude and racist joke, chances are you aren't going to repeat it or even think of it again. And when was the last time you actually called a phone number because it promised a "good time"?? Face it, the information you get in a bathroom stall is unreliable. You aren't going to take their dating advice, so why would you call this number?

Another big problem is that the graffiti in question is so stupid that you hope that whoever wrote it was fired within minutes of finishing. "For a vid time"?? And what about, "Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Q-BERT'S A HOPPER and this place is too!" The roughest exchange comes when somebody says that "Jeff is a Wimp" and Jeff responds, "I am not wimpy! I play PopEye!" I'm sorry, but this may just be a new low for bad concepts, this advertisement is ridiculous, I would hope that nobody would follow this design. All this does is remind me how much I hate going to the bathroom in bars. Oh, and I also hate 1-900 numbers, but that's a story for another time.

Street Fighter: The Movie Collector Cards
Do you remember how exciting the Street Fighter movie was? How sad you were when Jean-Claude Van Damme was snubbed for an Oscar? How you always had to explain to your friends how cool the movie was without any visual aides? Well those days are over ... because now you can collect all of the Street Fighter: The Movie trading cards! Oh wait, what's that? You don't remember enjoying the movie and hated Jean-Claude's acting? Well tough, because we have some trading cards to talk about!

Don't get confused, these Street Fighter cards are not part of a larger game that you can play with your friends. This is not Pokemon or Magic: The Gathering. These are trading cards; they just have pictures and information about the movie. They are a complete waste of money ... and they are kind of boring, too. This type of thing might be fun if the cards had any chance of going up in value, but again, we're talking about little cardboard advertisements for Street Fighter: The Movie.

Obviously this isn't the first movie to get its own set of trading cards. If you look hard enough you can find cards for everything from Free Willy to Xena. Not that you would want to look, if this is the type of thing that appeals to you then you might want to have that looked at. All these Street Fighter: The Movie cards do is help illustrate the divide between the terrible movie and the outstanding video game series. They show our World Warriors with guns and in stupid poses. If this advertisement appeals to you then you will buy just about anything.


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