So Bad It's Good: Why Really Awful Ad Campaigns Work So Well

Last Updated Nov 17, 2010 2:20 PM EST

Here's an easy strategy to get your brand noticed: Produce a campaign that's so unutterably horrible that everyone stares in gobsmacked amazement at your train-crash of a marketing plan. It's working wonders for a Candie's abstinence campaign featuring Bristol Palin and Jersey Shore's The Situation as well as several gut-bustingly bad product placements on NBC's Days of Our Lives. First, the Candie's ad, in which neither Palin nor Michael Sorrentino display any acting chops whatsoever. It's one minute and 45 seconds of unedited torture:


Candie's has a long history of grotesque ads. Remember Jenny McCarthy farting in an elevator in the late 1990s? That was Candie's.

These campaigns work, however. The Palin-Situation video is exploding on YouTube in part because people can't believe their eyes. That's why General Mills (GIS) and Bayer (BAY) are probably delighted about their laugh-out-loud product placements on Days. In this scene, Sami Brady interrupts a romantic picnic with E.J. DiMera -- whom she recently confessed to shooting, mind you -- to deliver an important message about Chex Mix:


The Days crew have also had sudden, unsubtle flights of inspiration about Cheerios:


And, most inexplicably of all (until you realize it's also a General Mills product), Wanchai Ferry frozen Chinese food:


Meanwhile, Brady Pub waitress (and undercover drugs narc) Arianna Hernandez appears to be on the payroll of Bayer, as she's treating the symptoms of the disappearance of her brother Rafe with Midol:


The videos have all gone viral. You can expect this trend to continue: As the media environment -- TV, online, mobile -- becomes more cluttered and distracting, marketers are forced to become ever more obvious and heavy-handed, like a kindergarten teacher raising her voice to get the attention of a room full of 3-year-olds.

Related: Image from MTV.

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