Broken: (Just for Fun) UK plumber advertisement
This plumber is called A. Burden -- literally.
If that was your name, would you really plaster it in huge letters at the top of your ad?!?
[Hey, if it stands out, it may be a smart move... -mh]
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This plumber is called A. Burden -- literally.
If that was your name, would you really plaster it in huge letters at the top of your ad?!?
[Hey, if it stands out, it may be a smart move... -mh]
The picture I have attached has the words "Flick Off" and is sanctioned by the provincial government here in Ontario, Canada for awareness to climate change.
Their idea is to make people "flick off" their lights and other electronics when not in use, and while the idea is excellent, the execution is broken.
They have purposely used a font that makes the phrase appear as the F word. The worst part of this is that this logo appears on numerous campaign items, like buttons and bumper stickers that are given out to everyone from elementary school students to adults.
The logo for this campaign is broken and can be found at flickoff.org.
I received this advertisement from Fresh Choice, (a restaurant chain) about its featured Asian delights.
"Granny's Apple Cobbler" sounds delicious but definitely Western.
I also like how they even used a special "Asian" font for the apple cobbler title.
Time Warner Cable's website presented me with this interstitial ad after I clicked on "Pay My Bill."
Making me look at an ad first in order for me to pay my bill is broken.
This is a tag that was attached to a hat I bought from a company that calls itself "Pugs Gear", but the animal they choose to display on the tag is a bulldog.
They should really call themselves "Bulldog Gear" or change the picture on the tag to a pug.
I came across this curious advertisement while passing through the airport in Wellington, New Zealand.
The sign says "It's only a car." They missed the count by one. More accurately, "There's no car."
Two sights from a recent shopping excursion:
I thought of buying Super Automatic Machine but decided not to. Maybe if it had been called Super Happy Automatic Machine I would have bought it. (This was the entire label for the product in the store's window display.)
Following up on yesterday's post about the Home Depot receipt, this is part of the window display of the Home Depot on 23rd Street in Manhattan.
You're seeing this right: apparently, Home Depot's idea of "the library" is a set of tall bookshelves... and a toilet. Complete with several rolls of toilet paper.
I always thought reading was classy...
I saw this ad for Kline Realty posted around the neighborhood which made me laugh.
My favorite part of the ad is - "Just type in klinerealestate.com and when it comes on, turn up the volume and fasten your seat belt or you'll jump up and start dancing."
I found this ad on my driveway for a local lawncare and landscaping company here in North Carolina - delivered in a ziplock bag with some rocks!
I understand why the ad was packaged this way - the plastic bag keeps it dry, and the rocks make it easier to throw from a vehicle. Kinda clever, I suppose. But the idea of using this bit of non-recycleable trash to advertise a lawn care business seems ironic to me. (The ad looked a lot like another piece of trash in the gutter.)
See how intently the father teaches his daughter world geography!
I found this gift card in an ad for a new Nissan car dealer in Universal City, California. However, after reading the back of the supposed gift card, I found out that
- This is NOT a gift card.
- This card is in NO WAY an endorsement for, promotion of, or represents any company other than the location listed on the attached advertisement.
- This card has NO monetary value.
- This card can ONLY be redeemed at the location listed on the attached advertisement.
I also never figured out what the card could be redeemed for.
The inside of this American Spirit cigarette ad fold out lists all the additives & chemicals which are in other cigarettes, yet not in American Spirits. The point of this being "Do you know what you're smoking?" That is, you should smoke a healthier cigarette, one without all these added chemicals. Right?
In addition to the standard Surgeon General's warning, the ad also contains a second warning:
"No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette."
Does anyone want to explain what the point of the ad is?
(Inspired by Seth Godin and This is Broken)
I found this Walgreen's coupon for Softsoap liquid soap. The coupon is advertising to "stock up" on Softsoap liquid soap, however your are limited to buying only 2!
This Berkley Gulp fishing lure advertisement is from a Bass Pro catalog.
The fishing lure material is described as plastic, however there is a "Plastic-Free 100% biodegradable" indicator on the ad.
If the fishing lure is indeed not made of plastic, then they should provide the exact description of the material. Otherwise, if the fishing lure is made of plastic then they should eliminate the "Plastic-Free 100% biodegradable" icon from the ad.
This flyer from the Science Fiction Book club promises:
All books in the enclosed catalog and flyers $9.99 each.
It's that simple.
No strings attached.
End of story.
But on the opposite side the flyer says:
- Please note: Harry Potter books and Eldest are not eligible for the $9.99 offer. Orders for these books will be priced at regular Club price
- Offer subject to change
The advertising line "End of Story" is inappropriate for this promotion.
I received this picture in an e-mail promotion from Financial Times magazine.
The text elsewhere in the message says "Life in the Fast Lane Instant Win Game" and "Enter now for a chance to win a 1-day dream driving experience courtesy of World Class Driving."
They mention Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, and Aston Martin next to their promotional graphic -- but they actually show a picture of a Ford.
I guess "Want to drive a Ford?" doesn't have the same ring to it.
In big large letters this Listerine label says, "As Effective As Floss," but below in smaller print it says, "Floss Daily."
If Listerine is as effective as flossing then why would one still need to floss?
I was looking through a catalog my wife got from Walter Drake and wonder why anyone would buy this nail product called Ultra Nail.
The nail looks much worse after using the product than before using the product!
I am certain that there is supposed to be a visible ad on the garbled screen of this speedway tower.
Seth posted a bulk e-mail he got from Amazon:
Subject: [placeholder for winning team] Wins the NCAA Tournament
Dear Amazon.com Customer,
Congratulations, [placeholder for winning team]! As someone who has purchased...
See the original post: Go Placeholders!! Defense, defense.
I assume they mean "Brand new AND used tires," but I'm not entirely sure!
This is a picture of a Sprint billboard at Times Square in New York City displaying a crashed Windows screen.
The original and all sizes can be seen here on Joe Schmidt's Flickr photo stream.
Not broken... just a sort of related site, showing interesting advertising campaigns. BILLBOARDOM: Gallery of Billboards, Signage and Outdoor Advertising.
First entry: Nuts Online - "we're more than just nuts!"
McDonald's advertises a "Triple Thick® shake". I've been trying to locate the National Shake Thickness Standard to verify that these shakes are three times thicker than the standard.
[Maybe not "broken", but an apparently unprovable promise... -mh]
Not all that broken, but certainly ironic and unfortunate. Actually, from a customer communications point of view, it is pretty broken.
On this listing for a Disney gift item, two pieces of a legal copy of wildly different urgency wound up getting smooshed together:
WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer, or birth defects or other reproductive harm. Sorry, no gift boxing available.
Not only do you get cancer, but it doesn't even come in a box. Alas.
The people in the store don't see a problem. I guess it's better than buy 2 get 1.
Rogers Video has started putting these ads on the video shelves that hang over the edge, blocking a significant portion of the DVD covers on the shelf below.
Taken just by the Gatwick express: "people want escape, not escape tunnels."
Don't know if it is broken in the true context of the word but it's wrong. What next - will Eurostar advertise about ferries sinking?
Not sure how broken one would consider this, but advertising hotels with a picture of someone's feet poking out of a sheet, on a website about celebrity crime, is a little creepy. The feet look like all they're missing is a toe tag.
Contextual Advertising Fails Again: Swatch ad poorly positioned over earthquake story.
I caught this at my local Perkins. They have a new menu called the Great Day Breakfast menu. While the front of the menu is OK, the fine print on the back of the menu isn't so good.
It makes me think that, for a limited time and at participating restaurants, I could increase my risk of foodborne illness! Yum. A small rewrite might be in order.
The definitive list of advertising cliches.
13. Both men and women find driving deeply pleasurable, never boring or stressful.
14. Men are inherently lazy/slobbish; women are the reverse.
15. Chocolate, however, will cause women to immediately fall into the languor of the opium eater.
John Weber points out the "incompatible convenience" promised in this camera:
Omisys DC6330 is completed with a 3X digital zoom (10 steps), TV out playback, 1.5?color LCD, and USB interface compatibility; all these just to deliver the incompatible convenience.
A spa called Athena (after the ancient Greek godess) is opening near where I work. It has an odd banner. I think the designer was told to "put a picture of a statue on it". The problem is, they used a statue of Queen Victoria. To my knowlege she wasn't Greek (or ancient enough).
It looks like the lady has fat arms, but really she's sitting in a chair.
(Thanks to Steve Hoffmann for a similar submission.)
Michael Beckner points out this photo and adds:
Lemme get this straight: Hennessy, clearly "thinking different", uses Marvin Gaye's image to promote its hooch. Did nobody mention that this icon's life was cut tragically shot when he was shot by his alcoholic father?
Here's a logo seen on the side of a van from some document management company. The text is fine, but quick: what do the icons mean? It's a mystery to me.
This was taken near Wall Street, NYC.
Rod suggests that Eddie Bauer's website could do a better job of presenting its "wrinkle-resistant" clothing. This product page shows a nice shirt with more than a couple wrinkles.
Note: As of 4/7/06, the link is down. -eds.
Not exactly broken, but perhaps a bad stock photo choice. Does this person look happy to be a Cingular customer? She seems as ticked off as I do when I get my monthly statement. $106 for two lines and I still don't get good reception in my apartment? Sheesh.
Ben Phillips writes:
Recently I was eating a bag of Tostitos chips and I realized that they said "Now Better Tasting!" Hmmm, I thought, they didn't seem to taste much better than the last time I ate chips. I have seen this used as advertisement many times. There are two fundamental reasons why this is broken:
1) It's arguing a vague point. It gives me no reason to believe that my Tostitos actually taste better now than they did before. Isn't all food supposed to taste good?
2) Taste is subjective. No matter what they did to change the food, people have different tastes and there's no guarantee that everyone would like the taste better.
Christopher Bergeron writes:
This is a picture from a Footsmart ad in a Sky Mall on a United Airlines plane. It you look closely it says "right foot" on the right side, and "left foot" on the left side, but the cutouts and the footprints are reversed! Maybe they should call it Footdumb?
In honor of the new Broadway musical "Spamalot" winning three Tony Awards a few days ago, I thought I'd point out this erroneous bus ad. The ad promises "witches", which are totally absent from the show.
"How do you know she is a witch?"
"She looks like one!"
This favorite scene of Python fans is not in the show.
But I did see Spamalot a few months ago, and it's a good show. So nothing's very broken here. I figure they designed the bus ad early on, when the script included the witch scene, and then the witch scene was cut later, after the bus ad was in production.
Speaking of light gray text on a white background, I scanned in this print advertisement that I've spotted in two major publications - The Atlantic and The Economist - this week.
This SUV manufacturer is paying a LOT of money for what's actually a two-page spread in these magazines. The only problem is, the whole ad is light gray text on a white background. Which means you can't actually read what the ad is saying, or what it's about. But that's what all the cool designers are doing, right? Wow, what a kewl waste of ad money!
Robert McLaughlin points out this AdvantEdge nutrition bar coupon for .50 cents off... what a deal!
Ron Chen points us to this Dell ad. Ron adds, "Note the keyboard and the phrase 'Easy as Dell'."
Steve Manning points us to this post, in which a hotel in Sausalito, CA boasts of a Pacific Ocean view. That's broken: Sausalito is on the bay, not the ocean!
Not necessarily broken, but an interesting point. Morgan Cloward points out that the Graphic Arts Exchange may want to change its URL from graphicartsexchange.com.
Tobin Lam writes:
This ad seems to imply that people aren't always truthful in online personals. It looks like that woman is claiming to be a man seeking a woman.
Joey Seybold points out another bad example of search engine advertising. Searching Google for "leprosy" brings up an eBay ad:
Leprosy For Sale
Low Priced Leprosy
Huge Selection! (aff)
Daniel writes: "Village 247 is a restaurant in Brooklyn, NY. But look around the site and you'll soon discover that nowhere in the entire web site is the restaurant's address, hours, or any sort of contact information other than a phone number at the bottom of the Catering page.
You'd think that an address and directions would be one thing a restaurant would need to put on their web site. It's even more important than the menu!"
This Logitech digital pen has a suggested retail price of $99.95, but a "Special Price" of $99.95! Get it while it lasts!
Thanks to Daniel.
Suffice to say:
"The eggs come from real chickens, the cheese comes from real cows, and the sausage comes from Jimmy Dean."
Whole commercial is recounted here.
Thanks to Phoebe for the pointer.
Julie Stanford writes:
Here's an example of how to scare people from buying your product in the effort to sell it.
This picture is from the home page for "Federal Money Retriever" software that helps you find government grants (www.fedmoney.com). Based on the text in the area I circled in red, I am led to believe that before buying this software I first have to do some soul searching to figure out if I am worthy enough to use this software, or if in reality I am a big loser who is never going to be succesful in getting a government grant and so should stop now and just settle for a trailer down by the river.
The PBS.org website shows an unfortunate error in merchandising in its online store: the product graphic of a stuffed animal leads visually right into the promo for the program "Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State." See the live site at shoppbs.org.
Thanks to James Schmill for the pointer.
Julian Smith writes:
I found this ad on a website I was on. Obviously the creators of this ad dropped high school math. "Forty-two percent less" is more than half.
Anyone want to buy a wireless mouse? Note that it has wires attached.
Thanks to Mario Pereira.
Paul Schreiber points out that, for Performing Songwriter magazine, subscriptions are $25.95.
But gift subscriptions are only $19.95. He concludes: "Good thing I bought myself a 'present.'"
Dan Newman follows up the Comcast flyer with this:
You may be aware that Blockbuster recently ended late fees. However, their advertising tagline for this move is incredibly poorly worded... in every store, on TV, on the radio, in newspapers, etc, it says "The end of late fees, the start of more."
I know what they meant. However, at face value, the statement seems to imply that they're ending these current late fees and introducing new fees.
See live page here.
Victor Zeiser sends in a strangely-worded flyer from Comcast. The ad promises "high speed" and "higher value", then says "That was then. This is Comcast."
An anonymous reader writes:
This came from a local PC shop. I thought it was pretty funny that they chose to use a very old Macintosh in the graphic. Brings new meaning to the old saying, "Windows 98 is like Macintosh 84."
A TIB reader points out that the LifeSavers website, candystand.com, allowed (children) users to search for stores in their area that participated in a recent sweepstakes.
After entering his zip code, this reader saw the first result: Absolute Smoke Shop.
He writes, "Seems kind of weird to be sending little kids into a cigarette store."
Some advertisers are buying strange keywords in the search engines, and then basing their ads on those search queries.
From Boing Boing:
These are all actual AdWords results [i.e. ads shown in Google searches]:
Find Everything You Want at Ebay
It's Fun, Quick & Easy to Buy! -aff
We have what you're looking for.
Drought & much more! www.eWoss.com
600+ Popular Stores - One Website &
One Simple Checkout - Shop Now! SHOP.COM
Lint for sale. aff
Check out the deals now!
Free Copy Machine - $.25 Per Copy
Free Faxing - $1.25 Per Page
Just shows that nothing in life is free - unless, of course, you're charged for it.
Scott Palmer writes:
The enclosed company's website tag line is:
Real internet solutions
The problem is that the first thing on their site that you see is a Flash movie that says "We are a real company." It doesn't really inspire confidence when you put it that way.
[Especially from a telecom company. -mh]
Amazon, like Nike, doesn't put their name on some of their packages. But when the Amazon logo lands the wrong side up, their happy smile turns into a sad frown...
I saw this ad awhile back, while listening to a classical radio station (Radio Classical, I think) through Windows Media Player. Most people listening to a classical station should know what a piano looks like, and this one is missing C# on every octave.
And then on the side, the bag includes the tag line:
*not* expensive fashion
Why create a name that needs to be defended by the tag line?
Here's what's broken: George Foreman's Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine.
I actually thought that's what this device was for when I walked by it in the store. (I guess I don't watch a lot of TV.) It wasn't till I went back and looked closely at the the logo that I saw it was a "Lean Mean Fat-REDUCING Grilling Machine" -- but the key word "reducing" had been rotated, colour-inverted, and stretched into a little hourglass shape that was only slightly more legible in real life than it is in my enlargement here.
I suspect another case of computer-enhanced incompetence; the poor guy whose job it was to come up with a logo probably never had any training in design or typography, but he sure was a whiz with WordArt!
What do you get when you cross the NYC MTA (subway system), Microsoft, and the latest in advertising technology?
I bought a blue Avery binder for my school portfolio. The binder is blue all over, but the information sheet inside clearly advertises "Black inside for the professional look."
Here's how not to buy advertising! This advertisement appeared in the Friday edition of our local newspaper. The problem: Nowhere is the company's name, phone number or address mentioned.
Which is too bad, because the 99 BMW looked interesting. I wonder what a full page ad costs these days?
"It has a special get-to-the-point button."
Huh? First of all, there's no such button on the phone (see second photo). Second of all, what in the world are they talking about?!
Sitting in an airport with a heavy carry-on bag, I was heartened by this friendly, happy marketing ad from United: "Our skies have no limit."
Then I stepped back and looked at the entire piece that the ad is attached to [see second graphic]. Limitless skies? Er, not so much.
Target currently advertises the DVD of BASIC for $14.44, PRICE CUT from $19.99. But flip up the new price tag and see what was below it... the old price, of $14.44.
Here's a photograph of a restaurant in Sofia, Bulgaria... Would you _really_ like to eat in a place called "Oops!"? I know I wouldn't.
Don't know how long this will be available, but this ad for FrontPage is priceless. Look at line 28. Oops![For the non-Web designers reading This Is Broken: the ad promises that FrontPage has "cleaned up our act," but there's an error in the HTML code displayed in the ad. On line 28, there shouldn't be a slash before the "p". -mh]
I'm sending a picture of a motion sickness bag I got on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Melbourne last year. The bag has a special offer for Kodak photo developing on it: "Please take this bag with you and pass on to family or friends if you are unable to use". I was feeling quite well on the flight, so I dutifully took the bag with me since I was unable to use it. It's still unused.
Chris Law points us to Marketing Translation Mistakes, a site run by Tex Texin in Boston. An excerpt:
A few years back Reed Business News relaunched itself with the branding: "If it's news to you, it's news to us.".
It was replaced after a couple of days...
With the imminent release of Return of the King, I thought you might like this.
This is a clipping from an inflight magazine from "Air Caribe" (one of the Caribbean island-hopping airlines) from about August 2002.
Something is definitely a little broken here :)
Seen on Defective Yeti: This billboard is just wrong. I'm all for well-meaning public-service announcements... but will this really make the youngsters aspire to become engineers?
Jay Bienvenu writes:
I snapped this on weather.com last year as Tropical Storm Isidore approached the Louisiana coast. I live in south Louisiana and was monitoring the storm. Reserving a tee time was high on my priority list at the time. :) Though it might have helped my score!
The ad in question was part of a set of mini-ads that rotated at that location. It appears that weather.com has removed the ad.
Phil Terry forwards the monthly update of the American Museum of Natural History, which includes a promo for "reefer madness" in Australia:
>____________________________________________________________The e-mail promo is fine. What's broken is the page you get when you click on the link. There's no mention whatsoever of the Australia trip. As Phil notes, "To find the Barrier Reef adventure, you have to click By Region and then scroll down two screens to find it."
>************** D I S C O V E R Y T O U R *****************
>Reefer madness in Aussieland! Get up close and personal with the
>Great Barrier Reef on this amazing snorkeling adventure.
Both these subscription cards came from two copies of the June 2003 issue of MacWorld magazine.Broken: Penalizing repeat customers.
The top one ($34.97/year) was in the issue I subscribe to.
The bottom one ($19.97/year) was in the newsstand issue.
John Cady writes:
The July issue of Wired came with a CD-ROM advertising the new DaimlerChrysler Crossfire. I popped the CD into my computer for a look. The CD installed itself into my startup program so that now, whenever I turn on my computer, it launches this ad which takes some time to close. They've hijacked my computer! What's worse is that I can't find the new program anywhere to uninstall it. You can bet my next car won't be Dodge, Chrysler, Plymouth, Mercedes, or Maybach.Update: John reports that after running AdWare, the offending startup is now gone.
Update 7/21: Joel Rome writes that "Another problem with the CD was that much of its 'content' was links to pages on Chrysler's web site. At least one of those links is no longer working. And I tried the CD the same day I received the magazine in the mail. I thought of you as I threw the CD in the trash."
Brent Hardinge spotted an Audi print ad with unfortunate placement of its website URL. It's right beside the tagline, "Never follow." Oops.