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Commercial Break
The Late Show with Bad Advertising
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on September 07, 2005   |   Episode 4 (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 ...
STD Arcade Joystick
Now this is a commercial that is just plain nasty. Not only does it not show the controller (one of the only things you're required to do in an advert for an accessory), but it manages to either make no sense or be a very, very perverted double entendre. Either way, this commercial is just terrible, one of the worst we've seen so far. I just can't imagine anybody being so impressed by this picture to run out to the store and buy it, even if they are fans of the games in question.

At first glance it looks like a piece of tissue draped over a very phallic-shaped device. With lightning striking in the background, the words read "Mortal Kombat II and Super Street Fighter II are Coming ..." If this is not a metaphor for masturbation I don't know what is! Otherwise what is that tissue for? And why the lightning? It says that this control is the only device that will "prepare you for the challenge that lies ahead." Is that a weird fetish thing I don't understand? And how good could the control really be if the advertisers want to cover it up with tissue paper? Is this what they were going for, or am I reading entirely too much into this commercial?

And then there's the whole matter of the company name, STD. Granted we plucked this advert from a magazine published 11 years ago, but certainly people knew what Sexually Transmitted Diseases were in 1994. When your advertisement seems so sexually charged to begin with, is it the best idea to have the name STD on the same page? And I can only imagine the kind of diseases the Mortal Kombat crew are packing, they don't make condoms strong enough to protect you from the STD's this gang has. Perhaps it's all in my mind, I'm just seeing more in this picture than is actually there. Or maybe I'm right ... you be the judge.

Tommy Tallarico Greatest Hits
If you've listened to Radio Free Gaming (Defunct Games' very own MP3 podcast) you will already know that we aren't afraid to make fun of G4's Tommy Tallarico. Between giving low scores to games he's barely played and attempting to single-handedly run the first video game channel into the ground, Tommy Tallarico is proud to talk about his many years of working in the video game industry. Well gang, next time he tries to impress you with his many years under his belt, just remember that this advertisement is part of what he's talking about.

Tommy Tallarico is not the most attractive man -- he's a little dopey looking and awfully short - but this picture is a laugh riot for way too many reasons. Maybe it's his sunglasses, that seem to be just a little too big for his tiny head? Or maybe it's that mullet he's sporting? Or perhaps it's that Letterman's jacket, which makes him look more like a member of the New Kids on the Block than the bad video game reviewer we know and love. Nah, it has the be those ripped up pants - something he seems to have on both the CD cover and this advertisement. Maybe it's a combination of all of these things, but whatever it is, there's something about Tommy in this picture that just screams ... virgin.

But the real reason we're including this advertisement on the page is because of that album cover. With the green planet in the background and the extreme lean-back, Tommy Tallarico's album could not be any funnier looking if it tried. What is that big speaker plugged in to? Why is he leaning back so far? Who in their right mind would buy this compact disc? I fear for a world that has too many volumes of Virgin Games Greatest Hits. They'll put just about anything on CD, won't they?

3DO Console
There are a lot of reasons why the 3DO never made a dent in the video game market - the price, lack of high quality games, a bad control, etc. - but for my money, this commercial may have just been the straw that broke the camel's back. Nobody likes being called names, yet the 3DO company didn't care about that. If this commercial was intended to make 3DO look like heartless jerks that don't care that other people have differing options, then they got the job done. But if this was intended to make you buy one of their game systems, then you probably took one look at the page and moved on to a preview of Aladdin.

This commercial is all about a test they "supposedly" performed that had 9 out of 10 people agreeing that the 3DO was a superior product to whatever else they let them play. According to the advert they asked these test subjects about the graphics, sound, and "bitchin-ness of play." That's right, "bitchin-ness." I can only imagine that the 3DO worker got a lot of blank stares when they asked about the 'bitchin-ness of play."

But, as the advertisement states, one out of ten did not agree. And since 3DO seems to believe that it's either their way or no way at all, that person needs to be ridiculed, made fun of, and generally made to feel bad about himself. He needs to be called a "blithering idiot" just because he preferred the Genesis or Super NES, or whatever it was they put up against the "best" of the 3DO line up. But since almost none of us bought a 3DO back when this advert came out, wouldn't that make us all "blithering idiots?" I can only imagine what kind of bad press Microsoft would get if their ad campaign was, "only losers are going to wait for the PlayStation 3." Unfortunately for 3DO, 9 out of 10 Defunct Games viewers agree that this advert sucks.

NAKI Recharger Kit
"Nuke your Game Boy or Game Gear" is what this Naki advertisement suggests. It's "Almost Nuclear," it's "all the power you need," it's one of the strangest use of hyperbole I have ever seen. But I can't make this stuff up, "now that's nuclear" proclaims this advertisement right above Naki's logo. This commercial is really all about nuclear symbolism, and for the life of me I have no idea why.

This commercial ran in 1994, not long after the fall of the U.S.S.R. and the Cold War had come to an end. People were far less worried about a nuclear strike in the mid-1990s, but that doesn't make this commercial any less unnecessary. The main problem with this advertisement is that it's not something people want. The last thing you want is something nuclear in your hands ... or especially your pants pocket. Yet this commercial is equating itself with something that puts off an unhealthy amount of radiation. You might as well compare the battery pack to smoking cigarettes or drinking and driving, this is just not the image you want for your product.

That picture also makes me worry a little about the safety of Naki's product. Anytime my battery pack glows like that know there's only one thing to do ... throw it as far away from you before it blows up. Nothing about this product sounds safe, which might be why we never see this analogy used in current game advertisements. Or maybe it's the fact that our President can't pronounce the word "nuclear." Either way, this advertisement is a little too hot to handle.
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