Even if you start with a beautiful woman and an amazing product that kind of sounds like Pepper His Dick, you can still destroy your ad by not understanding the importance of perspective. Champagne, for example, is a luxury product that you want to place near the viewer, but it helps if you do this without placing it across the forehead of another human being. If you're particularly imaginative, you'll see that this young lady's champagne glass is her forehead. The whole thing is glued to her face. Good luck getting your champagne from the mutant without initiating foreplay.
Wait, maybe the glass isn't actually melded to her face and you both just have your heads down with glasses between you. It's weird, but you appear to be playing Heads Up 7 Up at a bar. Close your eyes so you don't get accused of cheating. And avoid the drink, because it's got a nice sheen of Aqua Net on it by now.
I'm no marketing genius, but I imagine selling a product is like selling yourself. Let's say you're a street-walking prostitute and you're trying to score the customer that will pay the night's bills. Do you A) wear a snowsuit, do the chicken dance, and somehow convey the liquidy state of your lower digestive system to potential customers or B) absolutely none of those things under any circumstances? Unless you're a performance artist or a masochist or a character actor, you put the best version of yourself on display for others to see. Again, I don't know advertising that well, but I imagine sticking a tire and a human woman on a loveseat and seeing what develops isn't the best way to sell your tire.
The Armstrong Rubber Company
It's hard to tell from the picture, but this is actually the world's fanciest tire swing.
Romantically coupling a youngish Meryl Streep-type actress with a tire probably sounded better on paper than in execution. That's the thing about product placement, though -- there are infinite ways to get it wrong, but only a handful of ways to get it HILARIOUSLY wrong. Tires and people don't mate, so Armstrong Tires really screwed the pooch on this one.
Have you ever been in the middle of posing for a picture and suddenly thought, "Why is my stance so wide? Where do hands go? Am I smiling or screaming? Are we human or are we dancer?" That last one was stupid, I know. But getting stupid is the nature of having an existential freakout in the middle of taking a picture. I don't make the rules, playa.
That same thought process must happen to advertisers as well.
Allow me to offer you the nutritious juice of the tomato, fellow earthlings.
Imagine someone directing the model who posed for that ad: Hold your arm out like you're balancing a baby in your palm. NO! Like you're saying "Tada!" Don't smile. Yes, smile. No, don't smile-yes. Put your knee on this chair. Just one knee. Spread the other leg out like you might do the Chinese splits, but on accident. Just so you know, we're going to put a tiny can in your hand and a giant can in front of your leg. And pretend this ironing board is a really skinny table. SMILE. No, do not not smile.
For advertisers who couldn't master the art of replicating human emotions to sell their products, there came a point when they just said "Forget it" and pasted random earthlike things to a dream board and called it an ad. Female human riding a disproportionately huge bird, tiny birdcage in a corner. Done. HERE, JANTZEN. Now go out and sell some girdles!
You almost have to wonder if the guys making these ads didn't bother with a concept at all, like they literally cut up random pictures, put them in a hat, sprayed some glue on a poster board, dumped the contents of the hat on the poster, and spent the rest of their day trying to maintain a straight face while pitching the commercial equivalent of a Dali painting to the guys holding the checkbook. There's no other way to explain a turkey with googly eyes having a near-miss with a jubilant bird woman riding a gourd cart while smoking a cigarette.
British American Tobacco
Notice how the oversized pack of Lucky Strikes was superimposed over the picture as an afterthought, like whoever was making it totally forgot about the product altogether -- he just wanted to get this vision down on paper before it left his imagination forever, turkey googly eyes and all, never knowing that he just created an ad with more questions than answers. Are these God's cigarettes? Did he throw them to Earth to prevent the turkey from getting hit by the wagon? Is God a vegetarian smoker? Is this a trick turkey? If not, why is everything else semirealistic while the turkey has cartoon eyes? Are we to believe this ad takes place in Toonland, Song of the South World, or that one Paula Abdul video where she dances with a cartoon? If so, why didn't someone "choreograph" a better version of holding a cigarette for this model? Are the two fingers holding the cigarette webbed, with a slight gap for conveniently propping a cigarette? Maybe she's offering up the cigarette to God after he dropped his?
Even the weirdo Lucky Strike campaign is benign compared to this ad for Shinola shoeshine.
Here's a MASSIVELY ERECT gorilla caressing skates with his oil. Notice how he's looking directly at you, daring you to challenge him while he lubes the skater's shoe. It's almost not an ad at all -- it's the viewer picking the wrong room at the Overlook Hotel and living to tell the tale.
Kristi is an editor and columnist here at Cracked. You can find more from her on Twitter.