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Tim Gunn's Guide to Bad Advertising
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on October 22, 2007   |   Episode 40 (Show Archive)  

Join us on our continuing mission to seek out and expose the worst video game advertising of all time. Over the past twenty years we've witnessed a lot of terrible advertising, and it's our job to point it out and let you know what we really think! Nobody is safe when you tune into another episode of Commercial Break, your best resource for the worst video game advertising you ever will see!
SWIV 3D Quad Assault
The problem with old school video game advertising is that it often tries to shock you with disgusting images. In past episodes of Commercial Break we've criticized game advertising for showing people throwing up, trying to shock us with snot, people bleeding, and enough human excrement to kill a small panda. But in this 40th episode of Commercial Break we look at something that is gross without having anything to do with bodily fluids. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you one of the most disturbing video game advertisements of all time. I give you: SWIV 3D Quad Assault. I don't care how many more episodes of this show we do; I have a hunch we're never going to find a commercial as disturbing as what we're looking at today.

Let's start off this review with a warning: If you're reading this article while eating please do not click on the link to make the picture larger. It's bad enough when it's small, but the sight of larger image may be too much for some people to handle. I'm the kind of guy who doesn't mind watching disgusting horror movies and pictures from crime scenes, but every time I flipped past this commercial my stomach turned and I had to run for the bathroom. Not only is it a disgusting image to have to look at, but the thought of what it's showing me has haunted me for many sleepless nights.

What's sad about this commercial is that there is somebody out there that thought this would make for a good commercial. What's more, it's probably not just one guy who okayed the concept. For this leave the company and make its way to the magazines means that an entire group of people thought that this would be an effective advertisement. It's not. I can't imagine anybody looking at this commercial and saying to themselves, "Gee, I really need to buy this game because I really like the idea of my hand being sewn to the game control." Had this been a cute animated picture I'm sure we wouldn't be having this conversation, but this feels more like the kind of thing you would see in the next Saw movie. I never thought I'd say this, but after looking at this advertisement I'm ready for something as innocent as a silly commercial with some vomit.

Real 3D StarFighter and the Intel740 Chip
When you're going about and coming up with ideas for your next advertisement campaign it's important to know exactly what message that commercial is putting forth. This is especially true when you're trying to sell people on the idea of buying brand new hardware that could cost several hundred dollars. If it's your goal to get people in the mood to buy your overpriced hardware then there are a few things you will want to avoid. For example, you probably shouldn't talk about one of their parents dying or anything relating to a funeral home. Oh, and it's best not to use the word "herpes" as a joke, since you would be turning off all of your customers that actually have herpes. And while vomit and snot may work for software, it's probably best if you don't use it to sell a new console or video card (and don't even get me started about the idea of sewing your hand to something, we've already decided that that's a bad idea).

Perhaps the most inflammatory theme you could feature in your advertisement would be suicide bombers. After all, nobody wants to think about somebody getting blown up for no reason (especially when it has to do with religion or nationality). But I suppose nobody is going to be stupid enough to liken their product to a suicide bomber that would be the very definition of disastrous. Right?

You would think so, but apparently that's not the belief at Real 3D. Now granted, this commercial doesn't show a man with a bomb strapped to his chest walking into a busy market, but the implication is certainly the same. According to Real 3D their new card is going to blow you away. Figuratively that is as good thing, but not when there's dangerous glass flying right at your face. That's the problem with bombs, it's not the explosions that injure you ... it's all the debris. And then there's that poor cat who is clearly flying back so fast that when he hits the wall he's probably going to break his back. Is Real 3D trying to suggest that they are for cat death? Then again it's clear that the person we're dealing with isn't a rocket scientist (despite what his tattoo says), for reasons I will never understand he decides to hold on to the one thing in his computer room that is not bolted down. It's things like this that make me less sympathetic to his plight; perhaps it really comes down to the concept of survival of the fittest.

Anybody that has worked at an advertisement agency already knows that there's always that one guy who comes to the pitch meetings with the world's worst ideas. He's always the one that sits in the corner and says that he should have more totally bodacious slang terms to attract more kids. Unfortunately sometimes that mental midget wins out and the bosses (who has no right to be getting the salaries they are getting) go along with the idea of featuring teen speak that will no doubt be out of date by the time the commercial hits the magazines. In support of the morons out there who think this is a good way to sell your product (including the jerk that came up with this terrible ATI XPERT Play advertisement) I give you a full review full of slang you should never, ever use in future advertisements. I would start by saying that this commercial is xtreme to the maxx ... but it looks like ATI has already done that for me.

Look, you don't want to be a dweeb anymore than a piker, so clearly you like the idea of a video card company talking down to you. Why else would you be such a pushover and let ATI hoofer on your wallet like that? But it's about more than just the slang (thankfully), it's about showing a bitchin' motorcyclist jumping a guy in a canoe. Why? Because everybody already knows that there's nothing more bodacious than seeing a biker jump some dude in the water. I mean, that's totally the cat's pajamas. Duh!

Perhaps the best part of this advertisement has to do with the ludicrous demonstration on the lower left. It starts out by showing you that the ATI XPERT Play is three times better than Matrox Mystique (whatever that is), but then goes one step further and shows you the before and after picture. There's just one problem, it's almost impossible to notice any differences between the "with ATI" picture and the "without." Outside of the slightly darker sky, there's almost no difference between the "with" and "without." At $250 you would expect more, but I'm sure that most of that money is going to pay for this terrible "xtreme" marketing campaign. Sing it, daddy-o.

ASCII Grip - Imagine the Possibilities ...
A year and a half ago we made fun of a product called The Game Handler, a completely useless one-handed control made by IMS Controls and for use with your Nintendo Entertainment System. While the idea was intriguing (especially when it came to playing level grinding role-playing games), the advertisement was hampered by a horrible photographer. Due to lighting problems nobody actually knew what The Game Handler looked like, which may be one nobody actually went to buy the product. Now we're back with another one-handed control, the "revolutionary one-handed controller -- the ASCII Grip." Unfortunately it looks like ASCII decided to hire the same people responsible for The Game Handler, because here is another example of a one-handed controller that is almost impossible to make out in the advertisement.

Perhaps these companies just don't want people to see what their control looks like, because this is two one-handed controllers in a row that are obscured by something. In this case we see a man (at least, I think that's a man) who is holding the control (or something that kind of looks like a control) up to the camera. The problem is that it's too dark to really make out what it looks like, and the effect they use gives off the impression that he's shaking it. And here's an extra warning for you: if you look at the advertisement for too long you'll start to get a headache. Beware, this advertisement may be hazardous to your health.

I'm also a little troubled by the product's terrible slogan, "Imagine the Possibilities." Obviously they want you to think about all the things you can do by only using one hand to play your favorite games. But is that really a thought you want stuck in your mind? Think about this for a moment, what's the first thing you think about when you hear that your friend is typing one-handed? Chances are it's not that he's freeing up the other hand to do the dishes or work on his homework. What could your buddy possibly do with a one-handed control? Perhaps a better question is, are you really going to want to pick up that control after your buddy has been using it? It sounds like you need better friends.


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