Worst Commercials of the Week

Help me, THL readers, you’re my only hope. I cannot decide which of the two commercials below should win the award for the biggest pile of yuck for the week:

BK strikes again:

I really have nothing I can say that won’t be super redundant at this point. We all know Burger King’s ad campaigns tend to be made of the suck.

Boost Mobile:

I’m leading toward this one being the worst, because 1) underarm hair does not grow like that, and 2 and infinitely more important) IT IS NOT WRONG FOR A WOMAN TO NOT SHAVE HER UNDERARMS. Period. So many additional things could be said.

I am actually in the market to get my first cell phone, and Boost Mobile just convinced me not to even look at their plans.

Let’s hear from you, though: which commercial do you think is worse, and give me specifics!

Comments

  1. Dom Camus says

    Boost Mobile one sucks the most. From my perspective it’s not even close.

    The thing about the Burger King one is that it’s based around two stereotypes: girls obsessing over cutesy things and boys being desperate to get closer to the opposite sex to the exclusion of everything else. In that respect it’s guilty as charged, but aside from that the ad basically works. It’s not hilarious, but it’s vaguely amusing and does what ads need to do: it will make me remember the product.

    The Boost Mobile ad, however, is a failure on every level. To start with, it took me a while to even work out what I was looking at. When I did, it just seemed odd. Is the question of whether underarm hair is unattractive really one that weighs on people’s minds? And then there’s the fact that the connection to the product is so tenous as to be almost absent. No joke, I’ve already forgotten what they were actually trying to say about their mobiles.

  2. ACW says

    I actually don’t mind the Boost Mobile ad. Yes, that amount of hair is just ridiculous, but (1) she directly addresses the stereotype about body hair: “What? You think this is wrong?” (2) she moves on to a more significant issue: “I’ll tell you what’s wrong – hidden fees…” (3) she’s driving the tandem bicycle, and (4) her fellow doesn’t seem fazed a bit by the wafting pit hair. My point is, I can see where a room full of ad execs may have thought they were headed in the right direction. I wouldn’t be offended by someone with 3′ nose hairs doing the same ad. Hair’s hair, and some folks find mild humor in it. Whatever.
    On the other hand, the BK ad has a mass of women fawning over some random dude and his food, it’s laden with sexual innuendo, and every one of the women is portrayed as having fluff for brains. I do not see how the ad execs could find anything funny, entertaining, or enlightening about *yet another* ad that says “Hey, guys, buy our product so you’ll have plenty of women hanging all over you.” … ad nauseum. It’s insulting to women to be portrayed in that manner, and it’s insulting to men to be the target demographic of an ad like that. I really don’t even have the energy to address how so many stereotypes are perpetuated, regardless of whether directly or in jest.

  3. says

    Well, damn, SBG, this is the hardest choice I’ve been asked to make in days. Um…

    I strongly agree with Don Camus that the Boost ad is a failure on plenty of levels, long before one gets around to applying gender criticism – it just fails, and I think it really would’ve worked better had the armpit hair been realistic. Then it might even have been subversive – “You’re offended by this, but not hidden fees? Get a clue!” Whereas, if armpit hair was all flowing and shiny like that, people probably wouldn’t mind the damn stuff at all!

    OTOH, the BK ad is a failure in my eyes, too. The first guy looks snide about the second guy having this little silly burger – it’s Not Manly. Then the other guy demonstrates that the burger is Hot Chick Bait, which makes it acceptable for Manly Men to eat? Even if the stereotyping didn’t bother me, I think guys are going to notice when Hot Chicks don’t show up and the burger turns out to be mostly bread. They might sell initially, but this is just a very stupid cheap product and a desperate attempt to spin it until it sells.

  4. DragonLadyK says

    I’d say the Mobile one wins because it combines reinforcing a social custom instituted to solely to sell more razors at the cost of making women hate one more thing about their bodies along with an American-centric worldview where things that aren’t apple-pie-and-baseball are “weird” and “gross.”

    I’m not making it up about the shaving. During WWII Gillette wasn’t selling well because the men were overseas, so they launched an ad campaign urging women to shave their pits and legs for “hygenic” reasons to boost sales. (They also make women’s razors utter junk. Try shaving with a men’s razor and you’ll see what I mean. Also, try dusting your pits with a teaspoon of baking soda instead of using stick deodorant: it works just as well but without the chemical exposure. /PSA)

    DragonLady

  5. sbg says

    Whereas, if armpit hair was all flowing and shiny like that, people probably wouldn’t mind the damn stuff at all!

    We could braid it, flat iron it, curl it, crimp it, tie it up with ribbons and bows! “OMG, Becky, look at her armpit hair. It is SO scraggly!”

  6. sbg says

    I’m not making it up about the shaving. During WWII Gillette wasn’t selling well because the men were overseas, so they launched an ad campaign urging women to shave their pits and legs for “hygenic” reasons to boost sales. (They also make women’s razors utter junk. Try shaving with a men’s razor and you’ll see what I mean.

    But…but…but if it’s unhygienic for a woman, then why isn’t it for a man? There’s simply no logic there. I’m being rather rhetorical, but jeez. That’s just plain ridiculous.

    And word on the razors. I shopped around for disposables over the holidays and noticed the men’s were cheaper and there were more of them in the package. What am I paying for as a woman? A curvy handle? A pretty colour?

    My razor doesn’t have to be pink.

  7. says

    Yep, men’s razors are better and cheaper. I’ve even written about this somewhere around here long ago (and cited what DragonLadyK says about WWII).

    Hair IS unhygienic, period, for everyone, if it’s not kept clean. It’s a breeding ground for crap. Years ago, shaving was a great preventative, and throughout history there have been times men – especially of high status – shaved all sorts of body areas.

    But thanks to soap and readily available water, we Westerners don’t need to shave to avoid lice and other crap. Shaving should be done purely because an individual prefers it aesthetically or is into a sport where it’s more practical. There is absolutely no logical support for being “grossed out” by body hair.

    (That said, I am grossed out by it personally, but on men at least as much as on women. That’s just a totally subjective personal aesthetic preference, like preferring one eye color over another – there’s no logic to it.)

  8. Robin says

    I think they both fail in different ways, so it’s difficult to say which bothers me more.

    The BK ad is offensive to me largely due to its portrayal of women as airheads and men as gormless neanderthals. Admittedly, I went “aw” the first time I saw the little burgers revealed, but it was quickly replaced with “ugh” at the outcome of the situation. Now, if some of the women had taken the burgers and walked away, that might’ve been funny in a semi-subversive way. But then we’d be complaining that they were portrayed as manipulative bitches, so I guess there’s no winning on that front.

    The Boost commercial… Okay, I’ll admit it. It just grosses me out to the point that I changed the channel before I could find out what they were trying to sell. More power to the women out there who can break the societal expectations of hair removal. Personally, I can’t stand having stubbly armpits or legs (It’s so itchy!), so I wouldn’t be able to resist shaving long enough to find out if I could live without doing it at all.

    So, I guess the Boost ad… “wins”? At least in my book.

  9. says

    The Burger King ad would not bother me nearly as much if they had gotten decent actresses. Instead of, “these burgers are cute, which attracts women,” the message is, “these burgers will sexually arouse women with their size for some reason.” I mean, then it’d still be sexist, but nowhere near as gross and weird.

    I actually liked the Boost commercial. At first I thought that it would be lampooning her as some hippydippy weirdo with a whipped boyfriend and all sorts of other gross stereotypes. But then she goes, “You think this is wrong?” in a challenging tone and moves on to how her crazy bishounen armpits are natural, unlike nefarious hidden fees. The only laughs at her expense are had because she is oblivious to her hair hitting her boyfriend in the face, which would be just as silly and entertaining if it were run-of-the-mill head-hair. It’s bizarre and “wtf” inducing, but not sexist by my interpretation.

  10. Bleaksilence says

    I think both commercials aren’t that bad. There are far worse. I found the BurgerKing commercial a bit predictable. Those kind of stereotypes bore me. The other one was a silly, but not offensive. I agree with L.E. Hairstylist.

    On an other note:
    I personally think that hairy armpits are disgusting, wether they belong to a male or a female. What I think is wrong about the whole thing is that it’s made to believe that women shouldn’t have hairy armpits while it’s perfectly okay for men to have them. ;)

  11. Charles RB says

    “IT IS NOT WRONG FOR A WOMAN TO NOT SHAVE HER UNDERARMS.”

    Fun fact – a scene from 1987 Doctor Who got cut because Sophie Aldred hadn’t shaved under her arms. No other reason, the floor managed just said “we can’t use that!” because of arm hair.

    Much to the bemusement of the script editor – “I was sitting there saying that it was quite sexy, but I was outvoted. The un-shaven armpits of a female companion could have brought down the nation.”

  12. sbg says

    But thanks to soap and readily available water, we Westerners don’t need to shave to avoid lice and other crap. Shaving should be done purely because an individual prefers it aesthetically or is into a sport where it’s more practical. There is absolutely no logical support for being “grossed out” by body hair.

    I remember being stuck in a conversation with four guys, and they were ragging on a female friend because she didn’t shave. Apparently anywhere. Thankfully, they at least mentioned they were grossed out by male hair on the back or buttocks, but I was sitting there thinking – it’s hair. Hair happens. I don’t particularly love back hair, but if that’s going to be the dealbreaker in a relationship, then…I should be the one furnishing the gift certs for hair removal. ;)

  13. sbg says

    Now, if some of the women had taken the burgers and walked away, that might’ve been funny in a semi-subversive way. But then we’d be complaining that they were portrayed as manipulative bitches, so I guess there’s no winning on that front.

    BK can’t seem to win. Ever. Because I don’t think the point was even remotely that the women wanted the little burgers for themselves – they were there to fawn over the guy who had the little burgers. It was a rendition of the “single man in park with puppy and/or baby” shtick.

  14. sbg says

    I actually liked the Boost commercial. At first I thought that it would be lampooning her as some hippydippy weirdo with a whipped boyfriend and all sorts of other gross stereotypes. But then she goes, “You think this is wrong?” in a challenging tone and moves on to how her crazy bishounen armpits are natural, unlike nefarious hidden fees.

    I’m glad you mentioned your perspective, because I have to be honest – I don’t know if I’d have ever considered the commercial in this way. :)

  15. sbg says

    Much to the bemusement of the script editor – “I was sitting there saying that it was quite sexy, but I was outvoted. The un-shaven armpits of a female companion could have brought down the nation.”

    LOL! Oh, dear.

  16. says

    I don’t particularly love back hair, but if that’s going to be the dealbreaker in a relationship, then…I should be the one furnishing the gift certs for hair removal.

    You know, maybe another factor in this whole debate is that… okay, this is totally anecdotal. But all my life, I’ve noticed a very frustrating dichotomy, which is this: if I politely express to female acquaintances that I find some guy’s back hair a turnoff, they’ll castigate me. How dare I? After all, it’s not like I’m gorgeous! He may be a wonderful guy! God, what an entitled bitch I am! But if one of our male acquaintances goes off on a mean-spirited rant about some woman who has a trait (not even one she can control, like body hair – let’s say, a big nose) that he finds unattractive, that’s funny! Because she really is repulsive, you know, and he’s entitled to say it even if he looks like roadkill himself! Besides, boys will be boys!

    If this is a common experience rather than just mine, then maybe part of the problem is that our culture castigates women who don’t meet a certain aesthetic, and also castigates women who set any aesthetic standard for men at all.

  17. DragonLadyK says

    If this is a common experience rather than just mine, then maybe part of the problem is that our culture castigates women who don’t meet a certain aesthetic, and also castigates women who set any aesthetic standard for men at all.

    I’ve never had that experience, but then I do tend to only make social with people who have a healthy appreciation for snark.

    I have, however, had the experience of being told I’m crazy/gross/weird/disturbed for preferring men like David Nykl (gyuh, is he attractive) over men like Christian Bale .

    I don’t know if this just speaks to the human herd instinct where anything outside the normal behavior is bad, or if this means that women are starting to adopt the “cookie-cutter” idealistic standards that men have applied to them.

    DragonLady

  18. sbg says

    If this is a common experience rather than just mine, then maybe part of the problem is that our culture castigates women who don’t meet a certain aesthetic, and also castigates women who set any aesthetic standard for men at all.

    I don’t have any personal anecdotal evidence to contribute, but that the scenario you presented seemed vaguely familiar and/or entirely plausible kind of speaks to it. I think.

    I have been told I’m too picky if I’m not interested in a guy because the only thing we have in common is our singlehood. No attraction, no spark. Shame on me for not glomping right onto that!

  19. says

    DragonLadyK – My friends don’t behave in the way I described above – just “acquaintances” such as co-workers, that I can’t choose. I don’t willingly hang around people who judge me for any reason relating to who I do or don’t find attractive. It’s absurd.

    SBG – I thought later that this also sounds like the sort of experiences you’re describing here, which I’ve also had. It’s like even though these women (again, not my “friends”) know I’m not looking for a man even if he’s Mr. Perfect For Me, they are appalled that I would turn down a serial killer with terrible BO when I’m not dating anyone else. WTF?

  20. FM says

    I had something similar to that experience when I told people I didn’t want to date a certain guy because he set off red flags (which are usually right) of creepiness in my mind. “Don’t be so picky!” “Just get to know him, I’m sure he’s really a great guy!” “This is why you’re still single!”

    Ugh. And then what happens when you’re assaulted? “Why couldn’t you tell he was a creep?”

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>