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5 Commercials That Prove TV Advertisers Have Given Up

The Cosmopolitan -- Just Right Amount of Wrong

While not a full campaign yet, the people behind the new Cosmopolitan Hotel commercial should know that they're already off to a rocky start. The basic theme, as far as I understand it, is a 60-second reminder of why no one ever wants to spend more than three days in Las Vegas.

Everything from the massive stairway to the glimpses inside individual rooms is all eerily similar to watching Shelley Duvall stumble through the last 30 minutes of The Shining. Everyone is wearing a costume, old women are aggressively sexual and starving female models next to heaping piles of food opt instead to lick empty plates. As strange as it all may seem, I'm on board with the idea so far. Then the baby animals flood out of the elevators like blood.

This place is haunted.

The tagline is, "Just the right amount of wrong" but I struggle to see which aspect here is supposed to qualify as the "right" part. Swarms of baby animals in a hotel, from a completely practical standpoint, sounds awful. I am not a crusader for animal rights but seeing all those helpless tiny animals among drunken stilettos fills me with anxiety. Who is taking care of those kittens? What happens if someone rolls over those chicks on the bed? Who is going to clean up all that shit?

Now, there will always be people who insist that if a commercial gets stuck in your brain, for whatever reason, then its job is done. But I heartily disagree. In fact, that's ridiculous. If that were the only point of advertising then every commercial would be 30 seconds of the product name on the screen with the sound of a woman having an absurdly long orgasm. A commercial should give you some hint of what the product does and if the Cosmopolitan is filled with either tiny animals or women who are willing to abandon those tiny animals in the busy streets of Las Vegas with a "stay the fuck out" sneer on their faces, then I am not interested in visiting.

Capital One -- Visigoths

Of all the commercials on this list, the Capital One Visigoths are, without a doubt, the most mishandled, laziest attempt at advertising currently on television, and with HeadOn! commercials still running frequently, that accusation doesn't come lightly.

In order to understand how egregious these ads are, you have to remember their origins. For anyone unfamiliar, Capital One introduced the Visigoths in their commercials over six years ago as representations of high-interest rates on most credit cards.

These commercials were simple, funny and well-executed. But somewhere along the way, Capital One forgot how analogies worked and inadvertently destroyed their whole premise as clumsily as possible. Suddenly the Visigoths were no longer high-interest rates but Capital One customers. They wandered around modern times getting caught up in cultural misunderstandings and celebrating their rewards points.

In an unprecedented moment of arrogance, Capital One insulted whatever commercial audience was left by assuming no one was smart enough to notice they completely erased the context for using Visigoths in the first place. What's more, no one involved in this massive campaign bothered to check what a Visigoth was. (Hint: It's not a Viking.) They made them English instead of Germanic despite how endlessly hilarious a German accent might've been. So now they are just dirt-covered English people in fur pelts with credit cards. Even if the commercials offered more historically accurate representations, they would still be equating their entire clientele to fat, bearded men who pillage cities and, every so often, do some raping. Nice work, Capital One.

For more evidence that advertisers gave up (a long time ago), check out 5 Retro Commercials Companies Would Like You to Forget. Or check out Soren's take on YouTube erotica, in The 8 Most Misguided Attempts at 'Sexy' Videos on YouTube.

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Soren Bowie

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