As Seen on TV: The 10 Most Laughably Misleading Ads

So you're an inventor, and you've just created a product that actually sucks quite a bit more than the ones people are already using. How do you sell it?

Why, by creating a cornball TV ad that portrays everyday tasks as being next to impossible without your product. As we'll see, the results range from ridiculous to downright sad.

#10. MagneScribe Pen

What they're selling:
The MagneScribe is a magnetic pen which attaches to a pendant that's a combination digital clock and mirror that rocks a fly, Flava Flav look when not writing. It simultaneously maintains a perpetual state of writing-readiness and the ability to confirm whether someone is a vampire.

The hyperbole:
First, there is the sequence where someone is shown trying to unsuccessfully impale the cap of a normal pen, which suggests not only a lack of familiarity with pens, but also the visual-spatial reasoning ability of a pot-smoking chimp.

Then, when the lost pen lady finally responds to the "Call Now" command, she's placing her order and taking notes with ... a MagneScribe pen?

What the hell? We couldn't sleep for three days after we saw that. We kept picturing ourselves saying, "Man, I sure could use a MagneScribe about now," and then suddenly feeling a strange weight on our chest, the dangling pen was already laying gently against our belly. Oh, don't bother ordering the MagneScribe. It will find you.

Throughout the ad, we have the girl flailing around under a piece of furniture for her fallen pen, displaying both the poor vision and limited arm span of a T-Rex. Of course, the MagneScribe pen can't fall out of your hand; if you drop it the pen will come flying back through the air and re-attach itself to the magical pendant.

The reality:
They were selling this thing for $30. You know how many regular pens you can buy for thirty bucks? Three hundred.

You could keep a barrel of the things next to the sofa and every time you drop one, fuck it,grab a new one. But hell, even if the thing was free, having constant access to a pen in the off chance that we might need one isn't worth looking like a tool 100 percent of the time. It is a specific application of the more general 'fanny-pack' principle.

#9. My Lil' Reminder

What they're selling:
A digital recorder, which is like an MP3 player except it records instead of playing back and can only hold one 30-second track so you can leave yourself reminders in audio form. "Shit, where did I put my digital recorder? Fuck!"

The hyperbole:
The scene opens with a senile grandma wandering around a parking lot. Weighing her options, which are searching for her car using a systematic procedure or talking to herself out loud before grabbing her head in frustration, she chooses the latter.

Sadly, if you're constantly forgetting things, lack the problem-solving skills to compensate, and cannot manage enough insight into your own uselessness to carry around a pen and paper with you at all times, then you may have advanced Alzheimer's Disease. You have no business wandering around a parking lot unescorted, let alone getting behind the wheel of a car or operating a digital recording device.

The reality:
We must admit, though, that the bit with the guy using it for storing driving directions was pretty convincing. If we ever sense that our ambient levels of smiling doucheness are running low, we'll be sure to place an order.

Of course, that's assuming the thing works properly. According to people who actually used the product:

"Piece of Junk"

"... you have to practically stick the thing inside your ear to hear it."

"On Friday I told my wife that she urgently had to get her medication from the pharmacy ... She recorded the message on her recorder (I saw her do it) ... she couldn't play back what was on the recorder. It was too late to go to any pharmacy ... My wife didn't get her medication. The funeral was Monday."

#8. Handy Peel

What they're selling:
A pair of rubberish gloves with tiny sharp claws on the palms for peeling stuff and/or pretending to be a mutant around the kids.

The hyperbole:
Knife chick, here, is not an enthusiastic food preparer. We know this because her scenes are in black and white, and because she would seemingly rather look anywhere but at the knife she is wielding and the 1-inch-thick slices of potato she is lopping off. When the inevitable happens (she cuts herself), she is exasperated with the whole concept of this 2-million-year-old technology.

It's hard to say which is the saddest exaggeration here. Is it where they weigh up all of the money you'll save by not throwing away that extra bit of potato clinging to the skin, which would probably add up to around $4 worth over the course of a lifetime?

Or, is it 30 seconds later when they boast "No Messy Clean Up" over a shot of a potato-encrusted glove held under a stream of water that makes absolutely no progress toward removing the clumps of skin from the orange bristles?

The reality:
It's always shown peeling a vegetable that's clearly been pre-peeled, and that arouses our suspicion. The carrot scene left us aroused in a different way.

#7. Listen Up

What they're selling:
Listen Up, a hearing aid for people who can't admit they need a hearing aid, has the added bonus of endowing users with super-hearing so that they can eavesdrop and generally hear things they aren't supposed to.

Hey, that's the My Lil' Reminder chick. The poor dear must have tried playing back her audio recordings only to discover that she was going deaf, too.

The hyperbole:
It starts with the old guy listening to the TV and then his radio too loud, then getting totally owned by his harpy of a wife. He takes it surprisingly well (his grin is slightly maniacal), perhaps because he couldn't hear what she was saying.

Then the whole thing strays into the reprehensible, when it boasts that you can eavesdrop on people's private conversations from "Up to 100 feet away."

Then there's a shot of an elderly couple using it in church. We found it weird that they would market their product to both eavesdroppers and church-goers in the same ad. But then isn't God the biggest spy there is?

The reality:
The false advertising is blatant. For example, the guy at the football game can apparently hear the quarterback call plays in the huddle from the stands. Unless the Listen Up is capable of some fancy Fourier analysis for isolating specific sounds, and you can be sure that it is not, then he would bleed from the ears due to amplified crowd noise before ever hearing a single call. The only reason his ears aren't bleeding is because, as the customer reviews can tell you, the piece of crap doesn't work:

"I feel like murdering all the guys who acted in the advertisement."

#6. Easy Toothbrush

What they're selling:
Easy Toothbrush, an ordinary toothbrush with bristles organized so as to form a rounded surface, making it similar to several dozen toothbrushes you can buy at the grocery store.

The hyperbole:
Imagine if you will that you are a woman with dyed blonde hair and you have advanced gum disease due mostly to the fact that you have never seen, let alone used, a toothbrush. You now have some insight into "brush-chick," the star of this commercial.

The highlight comes about 7 seconds in, when brush-chick recoils in pain from incidental bristle contact, as if she were brushing with a steak knife. The point is hammered in several times as the voice-over repeats the word "hurt."

It gets better at about 9 seconds in, when brush-chick uses subtle non-verbal cues to communicate to her audience which toothbrush she prefers. The "conventional" toothbrush receives a look that is pregnant with contempt and scrotum-ablating scorn. In contrast, the "easy toothbrush" receives an appreciative head nod.

Interestingly, their entire concept is that because your mouth is round, your toothbrush should be round (as explained helpfully by the yellow geometric shapes above). By this logic, the Handy Peel up there should be shaped like a potato.

The reality:
It's a fucking toothbrush.

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