Why Seth MacFarlane's Priceline "Throw-Up" Video Gathered More Haters Than Fans

Last Updated May 13, 2010 12:33 PM EDT

A Priceline (PCLN) ad executed by Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame is drawing attention to just how difficult it can be for advertisers to take advantage of online video. The ad (below) runs for about 30 seconds, isn't very funny, and the reward is a four-second clip of a man in an armchair vomiting. Online reaction has been overwhelmingly negative.

Web video, obviously, is huge, and advertisers want those eyeballs. The way they've gone about grabbing them, however, is fairly clumsy: They've either stuck text ads in front of content that users must click to switch off, or they've inserted "pre-roll" ads that users must sit through to get the content they want. Both solutions are essentially old formats bolted on to a new format in a way that flatters neither. The lesson here is that marketers should not let novelty trump quality, even if the potential audience is huge.

Thus far, the clip has been viewed 278,000 times by Family Guy fans, gathering 9,578 "dislikes" to just 2,557 likes. The comments section is on fire:

bcmasta1returns: Wow I sit through a 30 second add for price line watch to a 4 second cartoon of a guy throwing up. Seth, I was gonna thumbs down this and leave a rant comment on why you shouldn't be in animation anymore. But it seems this video did the job and made everyone else hate you for the attention whore you are. COOL! So I'll give ya a pass today.
The MacFarlane "Sneeze-Throw-Up" video illustrates the pre-roll problem in its extreme: The ad content and the entertainment content are in ludicrous disproportion to each other, and the contrast heightens how weak both efforts are.