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Abby's Ultimate Bad Advertising
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on October 17, 2012   |   Episode 55 (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!
Nintendo Game Boy (1992)
Found in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, this is how Nintendo marketed their first portable system to a largely non-gaming audience. "A pie in the face of flight delays, long commutes and endless campaign speeches." Why stop there? If they are just going to name inane crap that adults have to go through, then don't stop there. Might I suggest this even catchier ad: "A pie in the face of constant rejection from the opposite sex, the wrist-cutting sound of your boss's voice, the overwhelming fear of testicular cancer and parents that think you died in a car accident!"

If this commercial is to be believed, the target audience for a Game Boy is a guy who gets up really early, works in an office and loves playing terrible sports games. Of the five games mentioned, Tetris is the only game that doesn't involve balls and knee pads. But don't worry, they butched Tetris up. Now it's the "jigsaw puzzle that fights back." I can sympathize. I'm fighting back my desire to stab everybody involved with this terrible commercial.

It's worse than pandering copy and pie jokes, this commercial is the first step in the downfall of our entire civilization. It all starts with Nintendo suggesting that it's okay to play Game Boy at work. You know that 10 o'clock meeting you were supposed to attend? Screw it, because you're on the way to a new Tetris high score. From there employees start bringing in their pagers to work, playing on the internet, buying cell phones, signing up for MySpace, emailing porn sites, setting up Facebook, tweeting, canceling MySpace and tweeting about canceling MySpace. Productivity goes down, the Russians invade and suddenly that Tetris song is the new national anthem. And it's all because you brought a Game Boy to work.

AT&T: You Will
The future is going to be awesome. When I close my eyes, I can see men and women of all races and religions coming together to end hunger ... in a stupid cell phone game about feeding starving pigs. Cameras will take video of us 24 hours a day, even when we're not starring in our own reality TV show. I'll go on long walks with my sweetie on beautiful mountain paths made entirely out of recycled recycling cans. The future will be so exciting that you'll yearn for the simplicity of four dollar gasoline and non-flying cars that don't randomly explode in a horrifying fireball of doom.

Think those predictions are farfetched? That's nothing compared to the nightmare world on display in this AT&T commercial. "Have you ever renewed your driver's license at a cash machine?" HELL NO I HAVEN'T!! Do you think the jerk behind me on the cell phone is going to be okay with me punching in a code, answering a series of questions, lying about my weight, feeling guilty about not being an organ donor, getting a terrible picture taken and then waiting for it to spit out a new license? This is a guy who gets impatient when all I'm doing is pulling out money to pay off my middle aged drug dealer.

I'm not a big fan of being told that I will comply. Oh sure, it starts with Theo Huxtable being able to renew his driver's license while simultaneously balancing his checkbook. But where does it end? Pretty soon AT&T will force everybody to wear a yellow sweater over a yellow tee-shirt. And that's not all, before long every room will be painted purple and Prince will be the official music of the Kingdom of AT&T. While some dream about a future with world peace and flying cars, AT&T wants to put DMV employees out of a job. How American.

U-Force: Don't Touch
Before there was the Kinect, Move, Wii, Activator or even the Power Glove, there was U-Force by Broderbund. That's right, Broderbund. The makers of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and Lode Runner briefly dabbled in the video game peripheral market. It didn't go well. Enter the U-Force, a controller that allows you to manipulate the action on screen by simply waving your hands. There was just one minor problem: It didn't work. The device was flush with technical problems, including sensors that didn't pick up movement. The only time the U-Force worked as advertised is when the game was turned off.

The critics hated it. So did consumers and retailers. They weren't alone, because this 1989 advertisement suggests that even the marketing team knew they had a stinker on their hands. Why else would you put out a commercial telling people to stay away? "DON'T TOUCH," says the U-Force ad in letters as large as the product shot. That's good advice. I would have also excepted: "U-Force: Save Your Money For Super Mario Bros. 3" or "U-Force: Don't Touch ... and That Goes Double For the Power Glove!"

As terrible as this one-sheet is, I can't help but love the truthful approach. It makes me wonder what it would be like if other companies took a page out of Broderbund's playbook. "Atari Jaguar: Yeah, We Didn't Do The Math Either!" "Sega: Welcome to the Next Level and Other Nonsensical Bullshit!" "EA: If We Made It, It's Probably Not In the Game!" "Nintendo: Now You're Playing With Potentially Litigious Power!" I can see this trend really taking off.

Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun
I know a few people who wanted to conquer the world. I'm talking about real go-getters; the kind that wake up before noon and actually do stuff. They drink their coffees, snap on their ties and prepare for a harsh world that they want to dominate. They'll talk about gathering up all of the guns and overthrowing the government. They also forcibly moved everybody they know into a small cabin out in the middle of Oregon. Actually, now that I think about it, I might be part of a militia.

Either way, this Command & Conquer commercial doesn't make world domination look very fun. Oh sure, it's easier than I think, but it also appears to be uncomfortable. Here's a guy who is so large that he's literally standing on all of Canada. He's so tall that even if the guy could get used to all the ocean water, he still wouldn't be able to find a comfortable sleeping position. And think of all of those innocent people he's crushing. I mean, sure, it's only Canada. But he could do a lot of real damage if he's not careful.

The real worry is that his enormous weight could send the entire Earth out of orbit. Suddenly the planet has more to worry about than some asshole gamer stepping on Canada. Half the world becomes an uninhabitable ice tray as we slowly float away from the sun. The other side of the planet sends actors into space to destroy asteroids, because that's the only plan Hollywood ever came up with. We're all doomed. The good news is that we have Chad to blame for this whole mess ... though I hear he likes to go by Xander these days.


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