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santa claus

Malick Ba

Horrible Christmas Advertising

December 12, 2017

Ahh Christmas time. A time of year when advertisers come together and attempt to create some of the more inspirational ads that consumers will see…but that’s not what this article will be about. What I want to touch on for this week’s feature is a couple of holiday ads that really stood out for being genuinely bad. I touched on some ads a few weeks ago in my article about emotional advertising during this time of year, but I wanted to take a quick step back and show you some of the worst holiday themed ads I’ve come across. For the purpose of this, you’ll only see inspirational/emotional ads versus tactical as they serve different purposes. Call me the bad ad holiday Grinch.


DFS: Making Christmas More Comfortable:

Ugh. I know that Santa Claus was born from a corporation but there’s nothing worse than brands using him in that way. As if it wasn’t bad enough. This awkward spot forces our favourite Christmas character in to a furniture factory where he takes on his new job as a furniture delivery man. The opportunity to inject creativity, humor, or any sense of fun into a bland commercial exists around this time of year, and especially with a character as original as Mr. Claus himself. This commercial misses the mark and turns him into a tactical sales message which I find do not track with most consumers around this time of year. I’ll give this one a 3/10.


Walmart Yodelling Cat:

Straight up…what in the actual f$*% is this ad trying to tell me? In 2011, Walmart (US) released this ad of a cat yodelling a classic Christmas track. After sitting through nearly a minute of a cat strangely singing at me, I still have no indication of what they are attempting to convey in this one. Not only does this really creep me out, it’s also unbearably annoying. This is a great example of an ad that went viral for the complete wrong reason. Although because it racked up a quite a number of views and caused a story, I’ll give this one a generous 2.5/10.


McDonalds Christmas (1980’s)

Wowie…this is a weird one, even weird for the time period. This early 80’s classic features Ronald McDonald creepily ice-skating with a bunch of kids. One loser kid obviously can’t skate very well so he becomes the outlier. After noticing that one of the kids is left behind, our good pal Ronald comes over and makes sure he’s included. The acting is terrible. Oh did I mention the number of animated woodland creatures that pop out of nowhere and have no real meaning or place in the spot? After seeing this, I’d rather hit up Burger King. 1/10.

So there you have it. The bad ad Grinch strikes again. Holidays aren’t always filled with the most glamorous advertising and I think the ones see above only prove that point.

Malick Ba is an advertising and marketing specialist currently living in Toronto, Canada. As an alumni of both the University of Ottawa and Humber College, Malick specializes in communications, advertising, and marketing. Currently, Malick works at an advertising agency in downtown Toronto and is looking forward to how he can further leave his mark upon the advertising and marketing world. Follow him on Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.