Worst. Tech. Commercial. Ever?

By  |  Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 12:05 pm

I’m still having trouble keeping solid food down after having been exposed to the Internet Explorer 8 ad that involves a woman projectile-vomiting after accidentally seeing a site her husband had been viewing. But I’m moving on from being appalled to trying to answer an important question: Is it the single worst commercial for a technology product ever?

Until now, this 1980s spot from Commodore Australia would have been my nominee for that honor:

But looking at it again–hey, it’s not bad. Yes, it’s cheesy–it feels like a Mentos commercial from a time before there were Mentos commercials. Yes, the combination of the notion of “Keeping up with the Commodore” and people smiling vacantly and making cryptic signs makes me wonder if some forgotten cult is involved. But at least it’s all cheery, and the song is so infectious that it’s now stuck in my head, which helps to block out the IE 8 ad.

Another plus: Nobody in it projectile-vomits.

Speaking of vomiting, it’s worth noting that the Microsoft ad isn’t the first one for a Web-related enterprise that involves spitting up. The E*TRADE baby tosses his cookies in this commercial, though in a more dignified, less forceful manner–and hey, he’s a baby:

That’s a bad ad, but not bad enough to rival the IE one.

Anyhow, the Internet Explorer 8 is revolting on multiple levels; it demeans both Internet Explorer and its users; it doesn’t even provide a terribly compelling argument for choosing IE, since private browsing is a standard feature in most modern browsers. It’s the first ad from Microsoft or any other major tech company I can think of that can accurately be described by the word fetid.

In short, it’s my new candidate for worst tech product ad of all time. Any other nominees?

[UPDATE: Microsoft has pulled the ad. Sorry, vomit-lovers…]


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21 Comments For This Post

  1. Jon Fingas Says:

    Apple’s “Lemmings” ad. It violated the golden rule: don’t insult your audience. Calling them stupid if they don’t buy your product doesn’t exactly endear yourself.

  2. John Baxter Says:

    No other nominees from me. The MS ad did seem to be in company tradition. I recall attending a meeting of (Seattle Macintosh) downtown Business Users Group on the occassion of the group’s 10th anniversary. Apple was there, and did a nice, professional presentation of things Apple. (And gave the club a then-new Mac.)

    Microsoft was there with what I learned was their regular user group road show, complete with encouraging applause by tossing tee shirts into the crowd, etc. The contrast was startling.

    I was sitting with several Microsoft friends, who were acutely embarrassed by the MS show and the stark difference. So this ad doesn’t really surprise me.

  3. Mike Cohen Says:

    WHAT THE F*** could Microsoft have possibly been thinking. Seeing someone throw up in the commercial will really make people want to get your product right away. It looks like they’re saying IE8 will make you puke.

  4. no Says:

    I don’t understand how MS gets away with showing someone as they are throwing up on film. There was an entire TV show on television where the goal was to stress someone physically while making them eat, until they puked. And they censored the vomiting entirely. Because I’m pretty sure it violates something or other. Yet MS shows it all in full glory.

    Of course, I find talking like a four year old when you’re an adult “baby bump, panties, fart, poo poo, pee pee, etc) even more offensive out of sheer stupidity.

  5. victor morris Says:

    There should be a lot of people looking for another job after such a ‘negative inducing presentation’ about microsoft. I like MS. I always have liked it better than the alternatives (and yes, I have Linux, Google, and other browsers available).

  6. SmithWill Says:

    Puking over porn? Well, I suppose this is a possible scenario. I don’t thank, however, that MS IE 8 is any solution. If the guy is into P-surfing and his wife doesn’t know about they have other problems. If anything, their Microsoft-based operating system is compromised by any one of a number of bots, Trojans or malware directly as a result of prurient Web surfing, and their personal financial information is now in the hands of the bad guys. Having your bank account emptied by the bad guys is mos-def something to puke about.

  7. pfig Says:

    Who was the genius that thought “Yes, let’s link our product to vomit”?

  8. Stan Ralph Says:

    Yes, the add was bad, however, not nearly as bad as IE8. Basically IE8 sucks and I guess the point of the commercial was IE8 is so innovative it will make you hearl….

  9. OfNoConsequence Says:

    Oh for god sake people give it a rest. It’s a JOKE commercial! Did you not get that at the beginning? It’s strictly for entertainment purposes.

    F.O.M.S.? G.R.I.P.E.S.? S.H.Y.N.E.S.S.? Microsoft isn’t allowed to inject humor into their spoof commercials?

    Gimme a break and get over yourselves!

  10. Mark Says:

    Wow, this is pathetic. Not the ad, the article. Sure, it is not a good ad, but I find it more interesting that some people will devote so much energy to hating MS.

    Really, I feel like I wasted too much time on this just by adding this comment, and yet others out there will devote an entire article (actually the author has devoted time for more than one article on just this commercial).

    It is clear that nothing MS (or anybody for that matter) will ever be able to sway this author from their MS hate.

    Grow up.

  11. Harry McCracken Says:

    For the record, I don’t hate Microsoft. (I oughta keep files of e-mails accusing me of hating it, and ones accusing me of being in its pocket–the two files would be about the same size.) Read my coverage of Windows 7 or Office 2007 or Hohm or any number of other things…

    Different people will have different takes on the ad–I’m interested to find that some folks like it, and have no desire to try and convince them they’re wrong. But disliking projectile vomiting in ads isn’t a sign of anti-Microsoft bias…


  12. Matt Penner Says:

    What baffles me is that marketing is not cheap. I interned as an IT member for a marketing company in Los Angeles, CA once (which certainly does not make me an expert) and saw a lot of the group sessions and brainstorming that went into marketing campaigns.

    You mean to tell me that entire teams of people thought these comercials were actually good? You mean to tell me that someone at MS actually signed off on acceptance and paid money for these?

    I know not every commercial can be great or memorable but it just doesn’t make sense that someone would actually pay money to have these produced.

    In the last year Microsoft seems to have spent millions on celebrities and campaigns that have just been absolutely terrible. Many of the entire campaigns have been scrapped mid way through because of the lack of positive public response.

    I just can’t believe that someone at MS doesn’t just stop and clean house.

    The “I’m a xyz and I’m a PC” commercials were a little corny but at least they were decent. No celebrities either. Probably their best and cheapest campaign in the recent years. How they went from that to these is mind boggling.

  13. JRL Says:

    Are you forgetting “The most advanced technology you’ll ever pee on” commercials? I found the image of a pregnancy stick being saturated with a laminar flow of ‘water’ pretty disturbing as well. Granted, they weren’t peeing on a computer, but…

  14. TK Says:

    victor morris Says:
    “…I always have liked it better than the alternatives (and yes, I have Linux, Google, and other browsers available).”

    OK, I couldn’t pass this one up. I can extrapolate you meant to list browsers but instead, “I have Linux [a kernel, not a browser], Google [a company based mainly on its search product] and other browsers available.”

    What’s not to love comparing IE to a kernel and an online software company? 😉

    Like I said, I couldn’t resist.

  15. Chris Says:

    There’s no puking in it, but I got this really weird feeling watching this Windows 386 commercial… Like I just smoke some really bad stuff…

  16. Jose Alvear Says:

    I just did a quick search for worst tech commercials and found this link.


    It’s got 10 awful commercials. My favorites? The Microsoft ad with Steve Ballmer and the classic Microsoft Songsmith ad.

    Hmmm…interesting how all all the commercials on my worst list come from Microsoft.

  17. Wayne Says:

    Looks like someone (Microsoft, maybe?) has pulled that YouTube video. I was unable to find it.

  18. 1stboybandfan Says:

    It’s up there. That is for sure. I do like the ones with the babies through. Their always fun to watch and always make me laugh and think about money and investing after they come for like an hour or two. Anyways. Some of the computer companies got to re-think being cheap with the commericals and still being funny and witty in them and showcasing or comparing products. Maybe they could something with racing or people dancing on videos and trying to race each other on computers. Then they can hire Kevin Richardson from the Backstreet Boys, so he can dance on there and he can make 1,000 and everyone else can make 300 dollars. That way he can leave me alone and everyone can make money again, and the computer and economy will be happy.

  19. Jonathan Allen Says:

    Backstreet boys is a very popular band during my teenage years, they are great performers too.:..

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  21. led watch Says:

    Very nice post and right to the point. I am not sure if this is actually the best place to ask but do you folks have any ideea where to hire some professional writers? Thanks in advance 🙂

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