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Commercial Break
Bad Advertising, She Wrote
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 07, 2005   |   Episode 9 (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 ...
Psychopad K.O.
Forget for a moment that this is a commercial has a large, stupid looking wrestler promoting controls for the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and Super NES. Forget that they've decided not to show you this "Hyper Programmable 10 in 1 Game Pad." Forget for a moment that it's not smart to hold up metal objects in a lightning storm. Because while those things are stupid, it pales in comparison to the fact that this is essentially a party invite to E3.

E3, it's the one place every single person reading that magazine (and likely this site) wants to go to. It's a fantastic experience with loud music, tons of people, and games everywhere. But how many people reading this magazine (EGM2) actually got to go to E3? After all, the event isn't open to the public ... not even people that read EGM2. Maybe 10%? Probably less. At most a handful of this magazine's readers got to attend the show, and even fewer would be able to get into this Ultimate E3 Party put on by ACT Laboratory, Ltd. When you're advertising something that only 1% of the people will be able to get into, you might as well just save your money and spend it on better artists.

And really, who wants to go to a party put on by a company that makes controls? I don't care how great your control is (even if it's the Hyper Programmable 10 in 1 Game Pad), if you're not a maker of video games you're party is going to suck. The only reason somebody would want to go to a party put on by the makers of game controls is if the Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo parties are all filled up. Going to a party like this is really a sign of desperation, if you do attend a party like this just remember to lie to your friends and say it was a Rockstar Games party!

Frantic Flea (Super NES)
In the 1990s mascot games were all the rage, with rodents, plumbers, bats, squirrels, bobcats, and hedgehogs taking up most gamer's time. But clearly some creatures weren't meant to have their own video game. A perfect example of this is the flea, the tiny little insect that nobody likes ... and nobody wants to play with. But obviously that didn't dawn on GameTek, because here's an advert for Frantic Flea for the Super NES!

Instead of offering pictures, a funny quote, or maybe even a description of what you are doing in the game, Frantic Flea decides to go a much different route. In this commercial we have a school lunch lady digging through young Jimmy's hair, looking for fleas or food or something. Little Jimmy doesn't seem all that pleased by this, or maybe it's the fact that he's playing one of the stupidest video games of all time. That face is not what you want seared into your mind when buying a new video game. And really, couldn't they have put a hot "MILF" type to dig through the hair? At least that would be something you would remember.

And then there's our six-legged, disease carrying friend, the flea. Not Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers (he might be carrying some diseases too, though), but the little red one that nobody likes. Wouldn't it make more sense to have a picture of a dog? After all, when most people think about fleas they think about pets. It certainly would be cuter than what their giving us to work with. Is it any wonder that Frantic Flea was never heard from again?

Revolution X
Conformity bytes, eh? Well, there's nothing more rebellious than listening to your dad's favorite rock band. It's Aerosmith in full force (the only kind of force they know), and unfortunately it's not just in the arcades anymore. As bad as this commercial is, there is no way it could ever be as silly, stupid, and pointless as the Revolution X game. But is this an indictment on Midway's horrible arcade shooter? Well, yeah, it kind of is. But it's also a critique of the commercial, so I'm going to do my best to stay impartial.

This advert sucks! It's not that it's poorly put together, in fact, out of all of the terrible commercials we've looked at so far (34 if you include the two up top) this is probably the best laid out. It's clear that whoever designed this knows a thing or two about working in Photoshop, especially with the nice use of copying and pasting only a couple of soldiers to give off the illusion that it's a full army. But don't get sucked into the look, instead focus on how stupid this all is.

You don't need to look any further than the pictures to see how lame the game is. "Free the captives," one reads ... like that's a new idea in video games. "Where you go from here is up to you," lead singer Steven Tyler says, but since the game is on rails it's really more up to the game programmers. "Choose your weapon ... CD bombs, super guns, skull bombs, and more." CD bombs? What does top selling Aerosmith know about bombing? They've had a long career of making commercially friendly songs, if you want to be the rebel that fights the "new world order" then I suggest you fight 'em with Atari Teenage Riot! Now there's a band that will get you ready to fight ... or at least run away from the stereo. But it's clear that Acclaim has no balls, that's why we're stuck playing as a loser with a really stupid logo shaved into his hair.

SEGA Help Line
Now I know what you're thinking, this commercial isn't that bad. Yeah it's kind of silly, and maybe even a little dated now (especially the clothes), but it's not THAT bad, is it? Well I'm here to tell you that it is, and that there's a reason we've included it in our list of the worst advertisements of all time. This commercial comes from a time when companies were starting to switch from 800 numbers to 900 numbers. Sega, a company that apparently had way too much money on their hands, decided to make an advert out of calling a 900 number. That's right, they actually advertised their tips line ... the same hotline that is mentioned in every single game of theirs that is sold.

It's never easy to explain to your parents why you were running up their phone bill with calls to 900 numbers, and this problem is only compounded when you have to explain that it was for game cheats and not to talk to some sexy voiced woman who is willing to moan about your wildest fantasies ($3 the first minute, $5 each additional minute). Sega suggest that you call them instead of being kicked in the ass, but suggesting people spend money to learn something they could figure out on their own is nothing more than a punch in the solar plexus. So it's really up to you, a punch in the stomach or a boot in the ass. Which is it going to be?

Before you think this commercial is completely pointless, don't forget to pay close attention to their selling points. Think this is just about getting you to call now? Well, they also want you to order a calling card-type product that has $10 of calling time on it. This doesn't actually save you any money, so why you would buy that instead of just spending the money calling when you need to (or going online to figure it out) is beyond me. And if that didn't do it for you, Sega is ready to trot out the hyperbole. "Change your life today." Next time we suggest you just say, "buy it or we'll never make another game system." Oh ... I guess it's too late for that.
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