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Bad Advertising: the Next Generation
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on October 26, 2005   |   Episode 8 (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 ...
The Space Adventure (Sega CD)
Wonder why you've never heard of the Space Adventure? Could it be because it has one of the most generic names of all time, a title that seems to be named after its genre? Perhaps it's the fact that it was on the Sega CD. Or maybe, just maybe, this commercial turned so many people off that they decided to boycott the Space Adventure and just about every other space adventure after it. Think I'm wrong? How well did the most recent Metroid Prime sequel sell?

The Space Adventure (more specifically, this Space Adventure) suffers from more than just an instantly forgettable name. It stresses beautiful women, brave space pirates, and outrageous adventure. I'd say the only thing outrageous about this game is that they expect the "beautiful women" to fight in their bikini. These are women up against space pirates, shouldn't this woman be wearing more than this to a battle? This is a commercial that stresses how beautiful these women are, but really, how beautiful do you think they will be after a fight? Perhaps the beach volleyball outfit wasn't the best idea after all.

But what confuses me more than anything are the weapon choices. The skinny blonde wisely chooses the big gun, it looks like that could take down a space pirate or two ... but what about those times when you're out of ammo, or you need some close range action? Well, it looks like she's brought her fancy glowing Pocket Rocket, which seems a little out of place. But then, when you're wearing practically nothing, perhaps holding a small phallic-shaped device makes sense in a strange, 40-year-old virgin kind of way.

Contra: Legacy of War
There was a time when Contra was the high water mark for 2D shooters; it combined our love for killing aliens with an unforgiving difficulty level that made us come back for more. But all good things must come to an end, and things just weren't the same for Contra after people stopped playing with the Super NES. This is an advertisement for Contra: Legacy of War, a commercial that has essentially given up. Perhaps it's just taking cues from the less than stellar game, but this advertisement just could not be more boring ... it's as if they weren't even trying.

When you describe the commercial it doesn't sound so lame: its three dull pictures over a blurry, uninteresting explosion ... huh, actually that does sound pretty lame when you describe it. Tack on one of the worst catch phrases ("Prepare for the most explosive Contra Ever") and you have a Contra commercial as forgettable as the game its promoting.

The ultimate cry for help comes tucked away at the very bottom of the advertisement. It promotes the idea that if you buy the PlayStation version you would get a pair of special 3D glasses. Now this is a fantastic idea, because we all know that 3D glasses are all the rage these days. The kids just love the 3D glasses; they toss them on while boppin' to Chuck Berry at the Soda Shop and trying to coat everything in chrome. This commercial does not improve when you look at it with 3D glasses on; instead it just makes everything even uglier. Perhaps 3D glasses are the best metaphor we have for the Contra series.

Sega Channel
24 Hours is all you can do?? Well Sega, while I would like to believe you I have a few different opinions about how much you can do, and I assure you, you can do better than 24 hours! This is one of those mid-1990s commercials that didn't need to show any fancy graphics, it just needed to have an arrogant quote to sell it to the brain dead masses. Sega claims here that 24 hours is the best that they can do ... and perhaps that's true, because it was all downhill from here.

How else could Sega do? Perhaps spend less time in the 16-bit era working on add-on devices for the Genesis. Oh, and the Nomad ... probably not the best use of your money. Having a "surprise" launch for the Saturn six months early (and only at four national game sellers) was also a pretty terrible idea, as was pricing that thing at $400 when everybody knew the price would go down in only a matter of weeks. What else can you do? How about not dropping out of the console race before most of the other consoles even arrived ... how about that Sega?

And it's not like they're any better today than they were then, these days most of their games have a strange "half-finished" feel to them, and they can't even release a good collection of their classic games. This is a company I want to love, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Sega and their games ... but dammit, it's time you took your advice, stop just watching TV and get back to programming those games you want us to buy. Quit half-assing it, you're not going to win any support that way. And the next time you ask a question, you better be prepared for somebody to answer it ten years later!

Video Jukebox VJ
I'm sure more than a few people have considering the idea of owning a game system that could switch between games without you getting up and manually loading them. Well ASG had that very idea in the early 1990s; they created a unique device that would, in theory, allow you to switch from game to game by just pushing a button. It was a good idea, one that you can see being useful to certain types of people. There was only one problem ... they decided to promote it with what can only be described as one of the most disturbing adverts I have ever seen. It's just horrendous, repulsive.

It would be disturbing enough if it had just featured Mr. Bean, but they gave him a devilish grin and glowing red eyes that make it perfectly clear why that Bean movie did so poorly. But it's not just the creepy sexual harassment face he's sending your way, it's also the fact that he has six Genesis cartridges stuck in his head. And considering that those Genesis cartridges were not very large, then this guy's head must be awfully small! And what's with that forehead? Are you a descendant of Kelsey Grammar?

Even more disturbing is what is being said. The official name of this product is the Video Jukebox VJ ... yet the VJ stands for Video Jukebox, so wouldn't the full name be Video Jukebox Video Jukebox? That seems a bit redundant. And it says it's "on-line all the time," a phrase that means something entirely different these days. Of course, the Video Jukebox never does explain why somebody would want to have the games shoved into their head, since everybody knows that it was a game console that played the games ... not your mind. Oh Video Jukebox VJ, all these years later you still remain puzzling.


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