3 Recent Examples of Poor Creative in Advertising

Poor creative can kill an advertisement before it sees the light of day. If you’re smart and working with an objective mind, you can catch the poor concepts before they ever reach a production stage. Sometimes they slip through anyway, as is the case with these three. This is the kind of creative that gives advertising a bad name; the kind that guys like Seth Godin and Joseph Jaffe might jump all over as a waste of money. And they’d be right in doing so, however, good creative could have made each of these a success.

1. One Laptop Per Child – From what I have read about this cause, it’s a great one. A true humanitarian effort to bring education and awareness of the bigger world to countries where laptops are not on every desk, much less in every school; where education is needed and power is hard to come by. The logo is pretty good too. The spot? A waste of marketing dollars.

As much as I love the cause, the spot does nothing to explain what it is, to convince us that it is money well-spent, nor that the child recipient of the laptop has learned anything at all by gaining access to technology. I found myself actually less convinced of the merits of the cause after seeing the commercial.

The child says, “Thank you for this laptop. You have changed my world.” How?? How did this laptop change your world? I want to know! I want to see what you’ve learned, what you’ve gained access to, how it’s helping to open up your future, or help your family or community. Give me something to believe in!

You can learn more about the good of this organization on the Wiki page, in about the same amount of time as the spot.

Verdict: A total waste.

2. Adidas Originals – Adidas current tv advertisement is a big, fat, loser. The spot shows a party with people suggestively jumping up and down, laughing, thumping to the beat, good times. Every single person at this packed party is wearing Adidas shoes. It closes with the fade-in: Adidas : Originals

It’s as if we were watching a very well-shot video of an Adidas let your hair down corporate party. If everyone is wearing the same shoes and doing the same thing, it should say Adidas : Conformity

This could have been a great ad, if only the brand messaging was aligned.

Verdict: Good concept, good cinematography, good energy, horrible close kills the whole effort.

3. Speak-Up Against Reckless Driving – Ad Council does some outstanding advertising (“Welcome Back Veterans” comes to mind), but this reckless driving campaign is out of touch. With the high quantity of campaigns Ad Council puts out, it’s easy to see how this one might have fallen through the cracks at the concept stage, but the script and art direction also miss.

You feel almost sorry for the whiner characters in these spots. Like, “Hey man, slow down” is sure to be heeded by any distracted or out of control young driver. No one would want that role in reality. The spots in this campaign present a cast of characters so devoid of likable personality that were it not for our instinctual value of the sanctity of human life, we could care less about their well-being. Note the missing rear-view mirror in the car, leaving the vehicle itself not even street-legal.

Missing mirror aside, the production itself is ok, though as the viewer, I am at a loss in discerning what the spots are attempting to achieve.

Verdict: Poor concept killed this before it was filmed.

Kelly Hobkirk - teaching marketers how to harness strategy, goals, reality, and purpose to connect and do better work.


Kelly Hobkirk has been helping companies succeed in creative ways for nearly 25 years. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, and books by Rockport and Rotovision. Get exclusive articles when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.

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2 comments Write a comment

    • You may have a point there. Since he’s a non-believer in the power of a good commercial, it seemed like a gimme. He does occasionally have some good thoughts, even if they can at times be difficult to decipher.

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