Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

How Not To Advertise

I keep seeing certain styles of advertising; some of which will not only fail to get my money, some will actually make me avoid your company like a cliché. Here are some of my advertising don’ts.

Think you know —? Think Again! / Everything You Know About — Is Wrong! / Bold New Direction!
Apparently, he's brown, in a brown world, with brown backgrounds. Full colour!
No. No, I don’t.

Every time I’ve seen this done as an ad so far, my first thought has been either ‘No’, or ‘Who’?

I haven’t actually seen any series I care about hit by such an ad, so my second thought has always been: ‘Boy, I’m glad I don’t collect that title. I’d hate to think I’d invested all that emotion, time, and money into it just to have it overturned by some hawt new writer / artist who thinks they’re good because they’re destroying everything I loved about that character’.

You know, that old chestnut.

This Is Not The Dark Crystal Movie Posters
Bonus points if they randomise the names to the actors.
A classic ‘This is not The Dark Crystal‘ movie poster; but at least it kind of tells you it’s in the 70’s.

There is (or was) a trend for a long time of having movie posters that tell you absolutely nothing about the movie, other than ‘this movie has humans in it’. Yay. You’re not Milo And Otis. You’re not The Dark Crystal. I care. So much.

These won’t turn me off the movie in question, but they won’t make me want to see it, either.

Hey, I like The Dark Crystal! Even if it doesn’t have humans!

Speaking of which…

Random Celebrities

I’m supposed to know who these people are. I’m supposed to care.

I don’t.

I care more about Cardassians than about Kardashians. I’m a geek. It’s my job.

It’s The Latest Trend!
Mama, weer all crazee now.
Oh. That’s too bad.

Towards the end of last year, I got it into my head that escape rooms, those things I’d been hearing about, sounded fun. Maybe I should try one, just one once, just so I’ve done it.

I’ve now done six. I’ve got another booked in a few days’ time; they’re that much fun!

But that’s neither here nor there. My point is, when I saw copy like the above on some of the local sites, my reaction to ‘Join the craze’ wasn’t ‘Ooh! Better rush out and do it, then!’; my reaction was ‘Oh, well… I suppose I’ll still do it anyway’.

I’m not into fads or crazes or fashion doing the latest thing just because it is the latest thing. Sure, I’ll ride the wave if I’m already interested in something (see: Guardians Of The Galaxy, though I still prefer the ‘riginals), sure, something new can grab my interest (see: escape rooms) but I find it really off-putting, the idea of just following along with trends. I leave that to the teeny boppers.

Here’s What Somebody In A Suit Looks Like
Is that tie choking you?
Oh, somebody put on a suit. Better fork over my money and my vote.

Politicians and real estate agents are the worst for this; but pictures of people in suits just don’t impress me the way they think they do.

Plus, putting up multiple copies of the same picture of somebody in a suit within a few metres of each other right before voting day tells me you think I’m an infant with a low attention span. Good to know that about you, politician, but I think I already did. I’ve seen your policies. (If your main issue is environmental, btw, it makes you a massive hypocrite.)

Oh, and real estate agents? Those new signs you have that light up the whole street all night? Bad form!

Which leads right into…

Annoying Me (feeling entitled to my attention)
No. Just no.
Chuggers. Amiright?

Last March, I was walking through an airport in Denver or Salt Lake City or somewhere like that when a guy came up to me and to make me join his airline’s loyalty program. I told him no and moved on.

A little while later, I had my face buried in my phone, texting with my mother! when the same guy said ‘Hi! Hello!’; I didn’t lift my face from my phone and kept walking. He muttered something like ‘or you could at least talk to me’. Now, obviously I’d heard him. Obviously, I knew he was talking to me. Otherwise I couldn’t be telling this story.

But he didn’t know that. Even if he did, I don’t need to take time out of my life to listen to his spiel. Twice. He doesn’t have an innate right to my ears. I’m sorry if he’s stuck in a horrible job, but that’s not on me.

There was an ad that I used to see on buses, showing a guy poking his face into the camera and holding his hand up like he was tapping it to get your attention. I didn’t watch much live TV at the time, still don’t (largely because of ads), so I don’t really know what the live-action version was like, but the still was incredibly annoying. I may have heard the ad once, and it was as bad as it looked. It was an ad for a real-estate-finding website called Allhomes. Even though I was actually looking to buy a house at the time, and knew it was the least useless such site in Canberra, I refused to use it because of that. (For better or worse, I couldn’t find a pic of said ad online.)

There was also a local ad for a green grocer called Freddie Frapples. The idiotic store mascot was so annoying, I refused to go in. Ever. That was thirty years ago and I still haven’t set foot inside.

You get the picture.

I owe advertisers nothing. Not even my attention.

“If you gave up one coffee a week…”
"A day without coffee is like… just kidding, I don't know." ~ a good ad
No. No, I can’t and I won’t and I can’t.

… You could give that money to our charity. You could afford to join our union.

One of the first times I heard this, I did the maths. I figured out my daily coffee costs about 27¢. It’s not enough for what the advertisers want. (That’s out-of-date information; these days I often buy a two-litre bottle of coffee-flavoured milk at the beginning of the week; it lasts me about four days, so it’s more like $1.27 a day. That’s still less than half what they think I spend.)

Even if that were enough for you, I don’t owe you my coffee. I don’t care how good a charity you are, or how much I support it, I don’t owe you my coffee.

I don’t even care if you’re talking metaphorically. Don’t threaten my coffee and nobody gets hurt.

I’m certainly not going to join any union that won’t let me drink coffee. No. Way.

Badly-Named Products

I see a few company names that sound cool on the outside, until you give them a millisecond’s thought. I’m not talking bad translations, like the notorious ‘Nova’ car when they tried to sell it in South American countries; I’m talking names that should never have been considered for the product they’re on. (I once toyed with the idea of doing a whole article just on these, but I’ve actually only seen a few.)

My workplace used to have a Thor brand dishwasher. You want me to put my chinaware into a machine named after a guy who’s famous for carrying a freaking hammer?!? I don’t think so!

There are a couple of Dolphin hand dryers in public loos on the South Coast. You named something that is designed to stop my hands being wet after an animal that dies if it dries out. Uh… guys?

A married friend of mine has pointed out to me that reminding people of a war whose most famous take-home tactic is going in while pretending to be harmless and friendly while really being a deadly warrior and only using that façade to break in is an absolutely terrible name for condoms. (Trojans, but you’ve figured that out, right?)

Your Turn

So, what are yours? What advertising tactics drive you buggy, or even turn you off the companies that use them? Have you ever seen cool-sounding but completely inappropriate product or company names?


  1. I do hate the “you could at least talk to me” stuff. I’m not the one who made you take your crappy job, ok? It’s not my fault you have to try to sell garbage, but I don’t have to acknowledge your existence.

    Your last one reminds me of the bit in Breakfast of Champions where…is it Vonnegut himself? someone hitchhiking is riding along and points out that the truck company is named Pyramid, which seems… not appropriate, and the driver says that the guy who named it thought it sounded good.

    1. Le Messor

      They use your politeness against you as a sales tactic.

      I’m honestly not sure what’s so bad about a truck company named Pyramid – unless it’s that the Pyramids are massive things that stay right where they are?

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