Sex sells — at least that’s the old adage. But some companies may have taken it a step (or five) too far.
1. Rug Doctor
What is it? What’s really dirty? What’s the thing that she likes to do while he watches? Oh! Deep cleaning. I thought you meant…
2. Jack In The Box
I like Jack. He’s handsome, affable and has a good sense of humor. I don’t like knowing that Jack’s dad has had an erection for the entire commercial just so I can find out he’s running a special on food. Why?
What exactly is this creepy dude dressed as a headphone speaking with a terrible “German” accent planning to do to my ear? Whatever it is, no thanks.
4. Liquid Plumr
To be sure, the comedic prowess of the starring actress saves this clumsy sham of a commercial from itself, but plumbers and porn stopped being meta or ironic decades ago. Sorry, Liquid Plumr. Maybe your bottle of super-dangerous hair-removing goo will be sexy next time. (Probably not.)
This Super Bowl teaser for Butterfinger almost managed to pull off cute and funny — almost. When Chocolate mentions “trying something… crunchy” to Peanut Butter, it was clearly candy code for group sex. Now, it’s a little strange that the chocolate in my peanut butter cup is feeling unfulfilled sexually, but as long as everyone is a consensual candy, they can mix it up as much as they want (SMH Peanut Butter). When Cheese and Crackers make their exaggerated and overly suggestive march through the Happy Together office, it loses me — a cute and funny idea is now suddenly sophomoric and strange. Plus, now I have mixed feelings about Butterfinger (and cheese and crackers, and oatmeal-raisin cookies and fish and chips)!
I have to think that this is the sort of thing Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Butterfinger would watch before they commence with their “edible couples therapy.” Why are all of our desserts and candy getting busy on TV? I don’t know, but I’m keeping the hell out of the candy aisle when the lights go out.
7. Burger King
Burger King has been terrifying children for years with its horrifying bobbleheaded mascot “The King,” who escaped from a mental institution to sneak into people’s beds with sandwiches, pole dance in a strip club and take pictures of a couple who are about to have sex (while he stands naked at the foot of their bed, of course). Burger King has pioneered quite a bizarre advertising legacy for itself, but one of its most infamous gate-tripping ads doesn’t even involve “The King” and his bone-chilling plastic grin.
Oh, and let’s not forget this playful bit of light S&M from its Subserviant Chicken campaign.
8. Lotrimin Fungal Cream
Athlete’s foot is embarrassing but not as embarrassing as this misguided attempt at humor. If you listen closely, you can almost hear the juvenile snickering in the background. Lotrimin asked, “How do we sell more fungal cream?” And somehow the answer was, “Simple, we’ll have a guy (fake) masturbate in bed next to his alarmed and angry wife. If that doesn’t move some medicine, I don’t know what will.”
Quizno’s deserves some credit for being a little brave here. Not only does it directly take on mechanophilia, it flips the script and makes a human submit to his sandwich-oven master, who has all kinds of demands about his Toasty Torpedo.
10. Carl’s Jr.
Carl’s Jr. apparently didn’t want Burger King to be the only fast-food chain to have a banned commercial, so it went ahead and made some, too. But unlike Burger King, Carl’s Jr. isn’t trying for anything counterintuitive or ironic, it’s just using sex to sell fast-food — a tactic as tasteless as its burgers.
Much has been made of the incestuous undertones of this Folger’s Christmas commercial, “Brother & Sister.” The Daily Dot even addressed the issue with its post “How to talk to your family about that Folgers incest commercial.” Not everyone agrees, but when I watch this awkward homecoming, it feels like they’re going to kiss at any moment.