5 Famous Ad Campaigns That Actually Hurt Sales

#2. Alka Seltzer Meatballs

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Up until the 1960s, advertisers had followed a relatively simple outline. First, present whatever product you're trying to sell front and center. Next, list off a couple meaningless facts and statements that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that your product is the best. And finally, belittle the shit out of women at every possible opportunity.

Then the 1960s ushered in a smarter, more cynical viewership -- one that demanded more than just buzzwords and misogyny to convince them to purchase a product. Thus was the social climate that birthed perhaps the greatest ad of all time: Alka-Seltzer's "That's a spicy meat-a-ball!" Because when misogyny fails, racism is there to pick up the pieces.

It's actually a really clever ad. The setup is that they're filming a different commercial (for some unnamed spicy meat sauce) and the actor in the ad has to do take after take, until finally he gets indigestion and needs some Alka Seltzer.


Later he was found in his trailer, dead of a heart attack.

What made the commercial so unique was that it so directly opposed every advertising standard up to that point. During the ad's 50-second run time, only seven seconds were used to show the actual product, and only for a few seconds at the end did the words "Alka-Seltzer" appear on screen. Instead of forcing anything down our throats, Alka-Seltzer was the first company to attempt to entertain viewers while selling a product. As a result, "spicy meat-a-ball" became an iconic line for decades, only to be later outshone by "Where's the beef?" and that other old lady who fell and couldn't get up.


The "Where's the beef" lady was the only one who got a record deal, though.

So What Went Wrong?

The commercial was a little too revolutionary.

Remember that actual Alka-Seltzer tabs are only featured for seven seconds in the ad. In the other 85 percent, that nondescript jar of pasta sauce sits on the table. This makes sense considering the concept of the ad, but unfortunately for Alka-Seltzer, people just assumed the spot was advertising meat sauce. Alka-Seltzer's sales shrunk while numerous pasta sauces began flying off the shelves instead.


As a result, Speedy's stock portfolio imploded and he spent the rest of his life on the streets, shooting heroin into the tip of his penis.

#1. Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

For ads that failed in more general ways, check out 8 Racist Ads You Won't Believe Are From the Last Few Years and 12 'Sexy' Ads That Will Give You Nightmares.

And stop by LinkSTORM to cleanse your palette of all this sticking it to the man.

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