I'm sure some of you have heard about this little sports game every year called the Super Bowl? I bashfully admit that this March was my first year actually watching it for the game and not just for the commercials - but of course, I still noticed the ads. And while I went in, as always, expecting the highest caliber in television commercial entertainment (as I feel should be expected, given the inherent prestige in such a spot), there are always notable exceptions.
Last year, Vin Gupta of salesgenie.com was proud to claim the prize for "worst ad" with an incredibly (and purposely) cheesy 30-second spot featuring a beaming businessman named Pierce. Complete with clips of a beautiful blonde, bright red sports car, and awe-inspired co-workers, the ad shows us that Pierce has achieved the pinnacle of success at his company thanks to tons of sales leads from salesgenie.com, leaving us with the tag line: "only fools work hard - I work smart."
Eager to hold on to the "worst ad" title for the second year in a row, Gupta added in a second element: ethnic stereotypes! The first animated ad featured a married panda couple and the second, an Indian man named Ramesh - both in desperate need of increased sales. Both commercials focused on heavy, overdone accents for their characters and played on ethnic stereotypes (ex: Ramesh and his 7 Indian children). The panda commercial was especially criticized by the Asian community for its offensive content, including badly impersonated Asian accents and such formulaic names as "LingLing" and "ChingChing."
While the Pierce ad was lampooned by critics as decidedly "low-rent," it did do its bit for salesgenie.com publicity. Negative or not, Gupta credited the ad with drawing more than 25,000 new registrations. But I wonder if it was really worth it for Gupta to go a step (or ten) further, from "cheesy" to downright offensive. While Pierce wasn't very insulting to any audience, even Gupta had to admit that this year's ads may have been inappropriate by giving his half-hearted apology. You can say that "bad" is "good" and that "tasteless" is "catchy" as long as it gets you noticed, but personally, all I remembered was my friends' and my own personal shock and horror lingering after viewing the panda spot.
But lucky for me, a google search of "superbowl advertisements 2008 panda" brings up a whole page of links to "salesgenie racist superbowl commercial." So while I may even be helping salesgenie.com's publicity by name-dropping on this blog, the point remains that I still only recognize it for its tasteless and even borderline "racist" advertisement rather than its services. And really, where's the benefit in that?