Battle of the terrible commercials

By Mir
August 1, 2011

On Friday night I collapsed into bed feeling decidedly off. It had been a long day and we’d been out in the heat and I figured I was just hot and tired. But on Saturday morning I dragged myself out of bed and was considering a nap about five minutes later. Basically, I felt like I’d been run over by a truck. There was no denying it: I was sick.

Otto, who was skeptical of my crazy diet plan from the start, was convinced I had somehow poisoned myself with the restrictive eating plan I’d been following. He lectured me about how I had “completely obliterated my immune system” and was now reaping the results. I rolled my eyes and agreed to drop the diet to placate him, although that was an easy thing to do as eating ANYTHING would clearly interfere with SLEEPING, which was the only thing I wanted to do for the next two days.

So I slept for most of the day, and then spent the evening on the couch watching quality television with my family. Read: We watched a Hoarders marathon. I don’t know that any of us consciously chose to watch it, it just sort of happened. And then we made an interesting discovery: The target audience for these shows are apparently women with digestive issues.

This was entertaining on several levels. First, how is it determined that these are the people watching this particular show? Personally, I believe you have to have a pretty strong stomach to watch people living in squalor for hours on end.

[Aside: Have you ever noticed that there seems to be a LOT of people with very few teeth on Hoarders? Actual conversation during our viewing:
Me: Why don’t any of these people have any teeth?
Otto: Oh, they have teeth. They just don’t know which pile they’re in, is all.
Chickadee: Actually, the problem is that they’ve purchased ten thousand toothbrushes, but they can’t find any of them. Then they have to buy more. But in the meantime, all their teeth have rotted.]

Second, who knew there were so many products out there specifically designed to take care of your occasional irregularity? I had no idea. And finally, when the following commercial came on, I declared it the worst one I’d ever seen.

“That’s the WORST?” Otto pressed me. “C’mon, that’s worse than the commercial with the bathtubs??”

“This is WORSE,” I insisted. “First the woman is all, ‘Oh, I haven’t pooped in days,’ and then she decides to eat PROBIOTIC GUMMY BEARS like she’s a toddler, and then at the end she has that big ‘That was a very satisfying dump I just took’ grin. It’s creepy.”

[Chickadee had no contribution to this discourse, as she was too busy laughing and hiding her face from the hilarious agony that is hearing your mother discuss pooping. Monkey—who was busy reading—would later be very sad he missed this fascinating conversation.]

Otto maintains that the notion of any sexual aid resulting in separate bathtubs is a more egregious offense to common sense than a woman needing gummy bears to poop, but I’m not budging.

Clearly we need to put it to a vote. The fate of mockery in our house is depending on you, people.

P.S. I slept all day Sunday, too. No idea what was up. But I seem to be better, now, and I didn’t require any gummy bears to recover or anything.


  1. Leandra

    I’m kind of a prude and so I find most sex talk to be mortifying; however, given a few glasses of wine and the right occasion (girls’ night out), I might end up talking about sex. HOWEVER, there is no way on God’s green earth you will ever find me talking about poop, especially mine, with anyone besides my doctor (and maybe not even HIIM!). So, you know which way I voted. :)

  2. Liza

    I’m sorry, but I have to side with Otto on this one. Separate bathtubs are ridiculous and non-romantic. Especially separate bathtubs that sit on the beach, disconnected from any plumbing. I am cold and crabby just thinking about it.

    Also, I am surprised that neither of you picked our favorite series of commercials as “the worst.” We love to mock the “Education Connection” ads in which a singing young woman realizes that even though she barely passed high school, she wants to go to college on the internet in her pjs, so she can earn an extra $25k per year. There are waitress versions, multi-culti versions, and indie singer versions. Also, the update the URL on the ads from time to time. I think our favorite is the one with the dancing mustard on the corn dogs, but the spinning mustard and ketchup bottles on the turntable are almost equally compelling. The one where she tells male students to cover up skives us out too much.

  3. w10ac

    You must not have seen the Summers Eve talking hand-vagina commercials. Hands down (hah!) worst.

  4. Jessica

    Okay, here’s my take (since you asked): Yeah, taking Cialis only to end up in separate bathtubs (I guess he was taking the 36-hour option, instead of the 30-minute one. Either that, or she was hoping it would wear off before bath-time was finished) is a bit illogical and ludicrous. A grown woman needing gummy bears to poop is, well, it’s kind of odd and creepy. I really like gummy bears (not to poop, the real ones to just get a sugar high from), and I do NOT want to associate that with my ability (or not) to poo. I kind of already associate couples near deep, claw-foot tubs with the potential for sex, so it’s not ruining part of my childhood there.

    (I mean, yeah, generally you could associate any food with the end result, I suppose, but I don’t really think about it to that extent. Now I’m just thinking about it too much. In the end, it’s Cialis = weird and a bit illogical, but Sustenex = freaky weird and a bit of a childhood treat ruiner … for any age. “Mommy, can I have one of your gummy bears? Please?” “No, honey, they are for Mommy’s poo-ing ability and are not treats.” What kid is going to ever want to eat a gummy ANYTHING ever again?)

  5. Jessica

    w10ac: They are pulling those tacky commercials, finally. Ugh. You should check out Colbert’s spoof for men.

  6. Aimee

    I voted for the super-sexy separate tubs, but I’m with w10ac re: the talking hand-vagina commercials. I can’t think of one that’s worse than that, and that includes both of the above.

  7. Melanie

    I’ve always wondered about the separate bathtubs in the Cialis commercials.. and I just watched the pro biotic commercial for the first time. My biggest concern is that she seemed experience her relief while outside in a beautiful park like setting. … perhaps a perfect lead in to a commercial for Depends….

    BUT THE ABSOLUTE WORST commercial aired the other day as I watched TV with my 15 year old son. The imagery was amazing, with battles and jousting and other manly things to peak the man child’s interest. It spoke of it’s mysterious product with terms like “It’s the cradle of civilization, wars have been fought over it, men have died for it..” So drawn in were we that when the Summer’s Eve tagline “Hail to the V” came on and we realized IT equaled Va jay jay, there was a full minute of stunned silence before we both exploded in laughter. I am ever so thankful for the DVR and the ability to fast forward through commercials!

  8. Mir

    Melanie!! We had a similar reaction to that commercial. Oy.

  9. Sharon

    Here’s the thing for me ~ I laugh at the bathtub commercials, but I don’t think an adult woman eating laxative gummy bears is funny. The hand-vagina commercial is a cute skit on Colbert, which is the only place I’ve seen it and thought that is was just a skit, but those talking “hands” make terrible television commercials.

  10. Heather Paddock

    I have to go with the bathtub one….I think because when I first caught it the other day it was SO LONG! It just kept going and going and getting worse and I just sat there jeeved out. So weird.

    Yours is a close second though. I think to myself…these are REAL people – do their friends see the commercials and then make fun of them every second they are around them – because I WOULD.

    I loathe commercials. All of them. Wait…except for the E*Trade babies…those crack my shit up. And I secretly love the commercials for the beef jerky with Sasquatch….especially the one where he farts into the fire and make a huge explosion..just don’t tell my husband…mmmkay?

    PS – I heart Otto.

  11. Catherine

    Ok, on the dumb, ridiculous factor, I’m with poop-inducing gummy bears.

    On baffling, the way the poll is phrased, I have to go with his-n-her bathtubs.

    I just won’t vote. It’s too hard.

  12. Bakerina

    Normally I’m not a fan of any commercial that presupposes that any place is the right place to talk about poop (viz: the Phillips Milk of Magnesia wedding reception ad — Various Gods, how I wish I were making this up). That said, I have to side with Otto, too, because — and I wish I were making this up, too — Lilly has TRADEMARKED the separate bathtubs. Now every time you see a Cialis ad, you see a silhouette of a generic couple in twin bathtubs, right next to the Cialis logo. At least twice per ad. (If you google “Cialis bathtubs,” and click on the Images link, it’s the fifth one from the top. Yellow background, silhouetted couple. Bathtubs. Dude.)

    Then you get at least one shot of the featured “ad couple,” ALSO in twin bathtubs. I ask you.

    I have to second Liza on the Education Connection ads, though. Why didn’t anyone tell me that I could have earned an extra $25,000 by going to college on the internet in my pajamas? I could have made a radically different choice of law schools, apparently!

    Next-next runner up: Swiffer, for pulling an ad campaign that made me want to punch everyone involved in the nose, and replacing it with…a new ad campaign that makes me want to punch everybody in the nose.

    Now, as for *best* ads: It’s a three-way tie between the AT&T ad where the guys are arguing about the release date of “Whoomp! (There It Is)” (because it gives me the excuse to say “Kenny, the restaurant’s on fire” whenever I’m on the losing side of an argument), the E-Trade baby (because he reminds me of my nephew), and Rob Zombie’s Woolite ad (because ROB ZOMBIE MADE A WOOLITE AD. DUDE.).

  13. mamalang

    That summer’s eve commercial? Let me tell you about my great experience with that one.

    Family and I (husband, girl children 12 and 17 and boy child 8) all go to see the Last HARRY POTTER MOVIE EVER!!!! We are in a packed theater. They play that commercial during the preview/commercial hour (which why? Why do I have to pay you for the privilege of watching commercials? I digress). I sat in stunned silence for a few seconds. My daughters looked at me with a WTH look, and my son asked loudly what lady soap had to do with the rest of the commercial.

    Worst product placement ever.

  14. Jill W.

    I have to agree with Otto on this one. My least favorite commercials right now are the ones where they set up a computer store in someone’s living room while they are away. Pushy and invasive much?

    My current favorite commercial is the State Farm one with the guy whose car is up a pole and he calls his old SF agent “I miss you, Jessica!” : ) I also like the Allstate mayhem commercilas (especially the racoon one). Appearently I am the spot on target demographic for insurance commercials. (which is kinda depressing…)

  15. Tenessa

    I get a kick out of the hand vagina’s. That image just cracks me up for some reason. I voted for the bath tubs one because that commercial was RETARDED LONG. Really. At least the gummy bears one was short. Sheesh.

    All that said, we don’t have cable, nor do we watch antennae TV, so I only see commercials exceedingly rarely and don’t have to put up with them on a regular basis. LONG LIVE THE INTERNET!

  16. ste

    Perhaps they don’t need cialis. Perhaps the problem is that they have separate bathtubs!

  17. Karate Mom

    Anything involving poop or cleaning lady parts or a man’s ability to get excited vie for the top three spaces on the “Things that need to be left OFF of TV” list!
    I also hate the commercials where all the beautiful girlfriends are sitting at a quaint outdoor cafe, having a ball, talking about their vaginal dryness or birth control or what kind of tampon they use. I mean, it’s good to have a girlfriend with whom you can discuss anything, but I’ve never done it in a group of five in a public place!

  18. Jess

    Jill, I, too, love the Allstate Mayhem commercials, and my favorite is, “Hi, I’m a teenage girl” since the guy who plays Mayhem is the foul-mouthed man I know and love from Rescue Me.

    For me the squickiest commercial on right now is the Huggies commercial where the dad is changing a baby’s diaper in a hotel room or something, and when he takes the diaper off a firehose starts spraying the whole room. I do NOT want to think about getting everything in a room, especially myself, covered in urine. Ugh. So gross. I kind of wish Huggies weren’t my favorite brand for my 10 month old, since I don’t want to reward them for that ad.

  19. MelissaB

    I’d never seen the Summer’s Eve hand commercial but just saw it because of comments here. Too funny!!! I think those and the Hail to the V are far worse than the gummy poop or cold baths in the forest.

    I just started rewatching Mad Men (yay Netflix) and can’t help but imagine the ad agency people working on these commericals and patting themselves on the back over these ideas. Can you even guess what must have been rejected to get these things on the air?

  20. Crystal

    I voted for Otto’s (sorry), only because I kind of feel like taking an excitement drug, while having a separate tub, is kind of defeating the point.

  21. Trish

    we got rid of tv a few years ago, so i haven’t seen either of these commercials (happily!). but i have to agree with otto, only it’s not the two bathtubs that creep me out. it’s all the lovey-dovey scenes of couples just sitting around for an erection to pop up. totally freaks me out!! at least the poop commercial doesn’t have a catchy little jingle, like that pill for people who have to pee all the time…”gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now”.

  22. Chuck

    I slept a bunch this weekend myself – I think my back didn’t care for it. My chiropractor gave me new stretching exercises this morning. At least I should be well rested for the workweek.

  23. brian

    Am I the only one curious about the plumbing issues with having two outdoor bathtubs?

    Okay, I can live with that. I think they are partners with Home Depot and trying to sell more tubs. And will be very disappointed if there aren’t Cialis stickers all over the Batmobile in “The Dark Knight Rises” because, hello, perfect marketing opportunity in so many ways.

    And poop? Poop is too funny to be allowed in commercials.

  24. Kay T

    I was staying over with a friend and had just met her husband for the first time, and we were sitting there watching TV and that Cialis ad came on — big rush for the fridge, bathroom, etc. It did go on and on, and then we all caught the bathtub image as we settled down to watch the show. I can’t decide which commercial is weirder. Thanks goodness we did not have to see the gummy bear one.

  25. Mama Bear

    Melanie… the commercial you talked about played in the theater before the latest Harry Potter movie… I took my parents, hubby and 13 year old. We all laughed so hard we cried; the entire theater erupted in laughter at the end… ridiculous!

  26. dad

    The thing that blows my mind about so many of the new breed of commercials is how, more often than not, after they are over you have no clue as to what was being advertised.
    The upside is that I vastly prefer entertainment to a hard sell (no pun intended Mr. Cialis).

  27. addy

    Love dad comments!

  28. Joshilyn

    About how the weird diet made you sick.

    But LORDY, are you ever right about the commercial…SO SO RIGHT is you.

  29. Cheryl M.

    Personally, I’m of the opinion that drug commercials should be banned FOREVER. It’s not that I’m a prude or anything, I just think we’re too quick to pop a pill, and I’m sick of supporting Big Pharma because some guy begged his doc for Cialis after having a problem once.

  30. Daisy

    The comments were as funny as the post! Good heavens, the idea of talking about sex in double tubs or Gummis pooping – I mean, Gummi Poop Makers…. next thing you know, I’ll be posting about my colonoscopy! Ew. Big Ew.

  31. Midj

    I DVR everything, even live sporting events and Dancing with the Stars, which I start watching 20 to 30 minutes after they start, just so I don’t have to watch commercials at all… Oh, did I mention, my sister works for one of the largest advertising companies in the country…. Whoops… :-) PS My vote seemed to put you at 57 votes each… Tied for worst commercial.

  32. Kati

    Worst commercial to exain to my prepubescent kids right now isthe bikini-area razor ads. You know, the one where the women walk by a shrub (my inner 12-year old is saying “Bush…heh…heh…heh.”) and it turns into the shape of her (borrowing from the Smurfs commercials) “Enchanted Forest”. The triangle, the circle, the landing strip (fortunately no completely denuded trees)…how does one explain ladysculpting to children without any, you know, hair down there? They’ve gotta place these things better.

    The commercials, I mean.

  33. Little Bird

    I haven’t seen the Summer’s Eve epic battle ad, but the one that stupefies me is the diaper commercial. The “which baby can poop their diaper most, without ending in a blow-out” contest. Luvs, or Pampers I forget which brand it was. The first time I saw it my jaw hit the floor.

  34. Wendy

    That “Hail to the V” summer’s eve commercial? they showed that in the movie theater the other day. I was there with the boyfriend and another couple to watch Horrible Bosses (which we all maniacally giggle all the way through) and that commericial came on just before the previews. The whole theater was silent watching it and then BAM! HAIL TO THE V! and I swear there was an audible intake of breath and then everyone just burst out laughing because it was so dang ridiculous.

    I voted for the bathtubs, sorry to say. More because who wants to go out in a boat? “Hey Sexy! I just took a little pill! Let’s go row around a big lake and you can drag your fingers through the water…. hubba hubba….” Have you ever tried to move in a little boat much less do anything more? they’d end up in the water for sure. Maybe that’s why they transferred to the tubs? They have some weird water/sex fetish where they have to be IN or NEAR water but in situations where they can NOT actually touch each other. kinky.

  35. mamaspeak

    I have not yet seen the “Hail to the V” commercial, so it could be a toss up, but I have to agree w/Kati about the shaving of the bikini area commercial. First time we saw that, OhMahGawd! I’m not a prude by any standard, but my folks were in the room, talk about uncomfortable!
    BTW, I used to work of a big ad agency. I suspect that these commercials are okay-ed when upper management was on vacation.

  36. Chrs

    I’m on Team BM with Mir.

  37. Linda Sherwood

    I am not a hoarder, but I can’t watch a full episode of Hoarders without getting up and picking/cleaning something.

  38. Linda Sherwood

    That should say “picking up” not just picking. LOL

  39. Megan

    Can’t comment. My sister AND my brother-in-law both work for the bathtub company and my sheer delight at this fact (with the endless mocking opportunities it brings) is enough to bias my judgement.

    N.B. It’s totally the cartoon bears with the bits of paper on their bums.

  40. Nancy R

    I have to agree with the comments about the personal razor…I’d seen the commercial a few times without really ‘seeing’ it, but the day I realized what was going on my jaw dropped…almost like that commercial that used to run for All Bran with Yogurt Bites where there were various ‘loads’ being ‘dumped’ around a construction site.

    I don’t have a problem with fiber gummies, per se…I mean, if a person needs a supplement their choices are powder you add to a beverage, chewables, and gummies, right? If it were me I’d totally go for the gummies…I just wouldn’t look pleased about it. ;o)

    Someone once told me the bathtub commercial only showed tub fixtures on the man’s tub and they felt it was to indicate…his…’readiness’… There’s a set of fixtures on both tubs though, from what I’ve seen.

  41. EmmaC

    I would like to add any Charmin commercial EVER to the line-up of What the…? Commercials. Cartoon bears don’t make it okay (and are arguably very creepy besides.)

    The last thing I want to think about in the middle of my Top Chef episode is butt crumbs, thanks very much.

  42. Brigitte

    I’m with commenter #32, Kati, I find that (trimming one’s “shrubbery”) to be currently the very worst, most offensive commercial out there! Though this one for Eastwood Insurance is just about as bad, I also find it hilarious:

  43. Liza

    Not apropos of the commercials under discussion, but I have to say, I was stunned to find a Mir commenter using the word “retarded” as a negative description of something. Here’s a PSA from “Spread the Word to End the Word” with Lauren Potter and Jane Lynch from Glee:

  44. Katie in MA

    It has to the magical gummy bears because the his-n-hers tubs are just too easily explained: *obviously* the product works so well, there just ain’t room. ;-)

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