The 6 Most Counterproductive PSAs of All Time

#3. Cookie Monster PSA

Cookie Monster is perhaps the ideal character to speak to small children about healthy eating habits because, much like the children themselves, he is a totally amoral abomination who has no problems destroying large amounts of property in pursuit of temporary gratification. Or maybe he wasn't quite so ideal, because back in 1974, this is how it played out:

CM sits in an unnamed restaurant while an off-screen reporter asks him if he is eating cookies. He replies in the negative. The reporter, intrigued, asks what he is eating then.

"Raw veal and dolphin caviar."

A dramatic pause ensues, and Cookie Monster lifts up the lid on his platter, revealing:

Meat and fish, which, he explains, will help him become strong. The French waiter delivers another platter, and the same scenario plays out, except that this time:

Cookie Monster is eating vegetables, which will help make him healthy. Repeat scene, you get the idea. And once he's done pecking at a healthy diet for 30 seconds, a god damn dump truck full of cookies drives up behind him and turns the air itself into chocolate chips:


Cookie monster screeches "COOKIES!!!" and gorges on the sugary treats like an addled fiend, desperately trying to fill the void inside of him with food (a futile gesture, of course; that void is where the hand goes).

Why It Makes the Subject Matter Look Awesome:

Even in the PSA -- where he's at his most restrained and health-conscious -- Cookie Monster still eats at least seven times as many cookies as healthy food. So even if the kids listen to your commercial and model their behavior after Cookie Monster's diet -- which, remember, you're telling them is the healthy way to eat -- they're going to wind up reluctantly taking one small nibble of fish, one nibble of vegetables and then devouring six sleeves of Oreos while screaming at the top of their lungs.

#2. We're Not Candy

PSAs are tough: You can't scare the kids too much or you'll just scar them, but you can't sugarcoat things too much, either, or the lesson will be lost. In the 1980s, the Long Island Regional Poison Control Center thought they'd hit the sweet spot: M&M puppets singing a cutesy song about how -- even though they look delicious -- you shouldn't eat them.

Jesus, what was the sugar-coated version -- did they refer to poisoning as a "tummy party"?

Here's an actual shot of the evil poisons at work:

Oh God, it's a barbershop quartet.

Here are actual lyrics from the song:

"We're not candy/even though we look so fine and dandy./When you're sick, we come in handy/but we're not candy."

That's it. "Don't eat us, kids, just have tons of fun with your singing pill friends!"

Why It Makes the Subject Matter Look Awesome:

Just look at those pills!

"Swallow me for happiness!"

We've never seen something more nonthreatening and loveable in our lives. If they made pets shaped like that, we'd own 16 of them and sleep in a giant pile together so as to never be apart -- not for one fucking minute. This PSA depicts pills as sounding like Chipmunks and looking like Skittles designed by Jim Henson. And you're saying those cuddly little bastards up there are going to hurt children? Maybe you were misinformed, PSA, or hey -- maybe the pills are just pretending to be dangerous because they don't want to be eaten.

What, does that sound like an unreasonable assumption? Because that's the exact premise of the M&M ad campaign: "Please don't eat us, you totally wouldn't like it wait oh nooooo! You ate me and I was delicious. You found out the secret! You're so clever!"

To be honest, it's easier to eat face-punchingly obnoxious characters.

So let's recap: If you disobey this PSA, you might die -- or -- you might just make some adorable new musical friends, get a fistful of candy and grow up to be Busta Rhymes.

The gamble is yours, kids.

#1. Case Study: Acid

In 1969, the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (wait, what?) created a series of short anti-drug films based on the individual testimony of users who had bad drug experiences. The downside -- at least for the PSA creators -- was that the testimony was not universally negative, and sometimes even highlighted the benefits of using the drug in question. For example, "Case Study LSD":

It starts, like everything else in the '60s, with porn music playing against a backdrop of votive candles.

Be prepared for the most sepia time of your life.

Just a bunch of assholes sitting around looking like assholes (it's a full-time job) until a pretty girl comes in ...

Are those bangs or a helmet? We don't know, and no one in the '60s cared.

In voice-over, she begins to relate her cautionary tale:

She only took the acid because she was "jacked up on marijuana." Wow, good thing she wasn't "strung out on wine coolers" or shit would have gotten real.

Then she "puts on pink Capri pants and a green and brown blouse" (the horror?) and heads out on the town. They "trip down" to Market Street to buy a hot dog ...

"You kids are tripping face, huh? Try the relish!"

But when she puts it up to her mouth, she hears somebody screaming. She asks her friend, but he says he doesn't hear anything. When she looks down, she finds that the hot dog has a face, a voice and "seven kids at home."

She reacts appropriately:

"Oh my God I love Trolls!"

Her friend doesn't believe her at first, but she eventually convinces him and they both have a long conversation with the meaty tube. Then, when she realizes she's probably just hallucinating, she eats the hot dog anyway. It "screams so loud you could hear it all over town." So she throws it on the ground and starts stomping:

Everyone knows you eat the head of the hallucination first.

Why It Makes the Subject Matter Look Awesome:

Somewhere around the time she says "There I was, stomping up and down on this hot dog in the middle of Market Street," you realize why this all sounds so familiar: This is one of those hilarious anecdotes that your drug friends tell over and over again. That's half the fun of drugs -- the wacky (but ultimately harmless) stories you get to tell about your highs. It's like living through a war without the bloodshed. Any experienced drug user, like any experienced drinker, will have a cache of fantastic and funny stories to share with anybody who will listen. And they all turn on that phrase: "So there I was, [doing something objectively ridiculous]."

"... existing in the '60s."

This girl suffered no negative consequences whatsoever. Her horror story about acid usage didn't involve killing a cat or peeling her skin off -- she just hopped on a wiener. That's exactly the kind of thing people who take acid hope they end up doing: Seeing and experiencing a bunch of bizarre stuff that, while sometimes disconcerting, is certainly not boring, and that doesn't end up hurting anybody. Nobody was dissuaded from taking acid by this tale, not even the narrator: Remember -- she starts off by saying "The first time I dropped acid ..."

Because, especially once you're prepared for it, doesn't holding a conversation with a working-class hot dog family man sound like a god damn blast?

For ideas that didn't go how they should have, check out 5 Retarded Health Campaigns That Backfired (Hilariously) and 5 Government Programs That Backfired Horrifically.

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