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The Worst TV Commercials Ever

The Worst TV Commercials Ever

The Worst TV Commercials Ever
31 March 2015

Times are tough in the music business, and acts have to find money wherever they can. But that doesn't justify the stomach-churning awfulness of Clean Bandit's advert promoting Microsoft's Cortana assistant, which has spread across the globe as fast as their previous hit Rather Be over the last few days but for very different reasons.

To 'celebrate' this dreadfulness, we investigated the crimes that have been committed in the name of promotion: those appalling ads which run seemingly on constant repeat, bombarding you over and over again with their inherent awfulness. We present 20 of the worst offenders: so bad that they're, just really bad.

Don't blame us if you throw your computer out of the window.

Halifax - ISA ISA Baby

Having scaled a relative high point for advertising with the 'Howard from Halifax' series - which was innovative and actually quite endearing - they then sunk to the very depths with a series of ads based in the fictional, hideous-sounding, Halifax Radio Station. The 'Isa Isa Baby' clip was the nadir of this: a weak pun in conjunction with a boring product, and a cast who can't quite believe they're having to read these lines. We think it's best left to this YouTube comment to demonstrate the depth of feeling against it.

"When I see this advert I think of fire, screaming and post-nuclear landscapes. It makes me long for death's icy embrace and an eternity in endless, unknowable limbo. It's an awfulness so deep and broad it's like some abstract notion of evil; the merest hint of which is so fundamentally disturbing it would drive kind, sane men to murderous havoc. It makes me want to kill."

Daz - Doorstep Challenge

In many ways, the history of the "so annoying, it makes you remember it" ad, seen so regularly these days, can be traced back to Danny Baker and the infamous Daz Doorstep Challenge. The fact that it was so irritating, so ridiculous, so unscientific and so hateful actually meant that it was memorable - and for Daz, that was good advertising. We've gone for Danny as he was the original, but Shane Richie's followup was arguably worse.

Coca-Cola - Duffy on a Bike

Even poor Clean Bandit had nothing on this: the advert that was so bad that it killed Duffy's career in 70 hideous seconds. Before the advert: 7 million album sales and 3 Brit Awards; After the advert: oblivion. It made no sense and she sounded like an out-of-tune duck with a cold. What on earth was everyone thinking? It's the sort of ad you'd make if you were on the other type of coke.

Quorn - Ryan Giggs

Ah, remember the old days when Ryan Giggs was synonymous with clean living, innocence and being a heart-throb for teenage girls everywhere? Well, at least fellow teenage boys could console themselves with the fact that he couldn't add acting to that list, after this unbelievably dull advert for Quorn. It would be unfair to the thespian skills of a goalpost to describe Ryan's efforts as wooden.

Cillit Bang - Barry Scott

The spiritual godfather of all those adverts that SHOUT AT YOU TO GET YOUR ATTENTION, this Cillit Bang atrocity has a lot to answer for. Barry Scott was, in fact, a 'comic' creation by Neil Burgess. But he wasn't funny. He was JUST VERY, VERY ANNOYING.

iPhone 5 - Cheese

A new entry here, but one we feel is thoroughly worthy. Apple's rare forays into advertising are fairly smug at the best of times (to be fair, they have plenty to be smug about), but this one just goes too far. Unbearably patronising throughout, but the real payload is that overlong, annoying, irritating 'CHEEEEEEEEE....EEEEEESE' in the middle. Stick it up your gorgonzola Apple.

Go Compare

Oh Gio Compario, just what hell did you unleash upon the world? Setting the template for a whole raft of internet sites advertised utilising an awful, but catchy, song and some tenuous pun-based lead character, this is still the king of them all. At least Go Compare had the decency to recognise how universally hated the character was and bring out a new series where he endures physical violence towards him, thus bringing to life the fantasies of countless angry television viewers everywhere.

Venkys - Blackburn Rovers

Football fans: be careful what you wish for. This cringeworthy advert for Blackburn Rovers' much-maligned Indian owners Venkys is a salutary lesson to those who get excited at the first sign of an apparently-wealthy foreign owner coming in to guide your club to success and glory. One day they promise to buy you Ronaldinho, the next your players are being forced to pretend to steal chicken legs from each other on camera. It's a slippery, slippery slope people.

Boots - Here Come the Girls

It's a fact: there is no more terrifying sound on this planet that those horns that signal the start of Here Come The Girls. Appropriated by both Boots and Marks & Spencer, it is now a warning that the viewer is about to be bombarded by pseudo-feminist - but actually insulting to both women and men - nonsense. This particular advert really is at the apex of the genre. Watch it and try not to smash something. Just try it.

InjuryLawyers4U - Can't Fight This Feeling

We honestly don't know how Andrew Castle sleeps at night. And they're too tight to even use the real version of Can't Fight This Feeling. Unbelievable.

Head On

At the halfway point, we pause for an advert which is, to put it mildly, utterly bizarre. We don't even know what this product does. It repeats the phrase 'Head On' no less than nine times, while sounding like a badly scratched CD. Truly, truly awful.

Direct Line - Steve-o!

It's hard to know what's worse about this: the sheer, utter unfunniness of the whole 'gag', or what it says about Direct Line's opinion of the intelligence of van drivers. Desperately awful and borderline offensive, we're not quite sure how the people behind this can sleep at night. Special mention should also go to every single one of the awful Chris Addison adverts, but this one just shades it for us.

DFS - Rockstar

Yes, you knew everyone's favourite perma-sale sofa experts would be in here somewhere didn't you? To be fair, most of their adverts are a bit ropey, but get the job done; however, this was a step too far, combining the aural atrocity that was Nickelback's Rockstar with some actors who were only too willing to surrender their dignity for a free leather 3-piece suite. How and why was this song ever popular? But then people thought it was OK to burn witches once too, we suppose.

Just For Men - Luis Figo

A word of warning to advertisers everywhere: think long and hard before employing sportspeople in your adverts. Because for every David Beckham, there is a Luis Figo. As if the world had learnt nothing from the Ryan Giggs Quorn fiasco, Just For Men decided to sign up everyone's favourite Portuguese personality vacuum who, sadly, wasn't as smooth with his acting as he was with his dribbling. A dreadful advert, poorly executed. Well done everyone, well done.


Hold on to the contents of your stomach - this is one of the most gut-wrenching pieces of television we've ever seen. We get that you have to try and demonstrate exactly what your product does, but do you really have to do it this graphically? Good grief. Turn it off!

We Buy Any Car

Almost surgical in its efficiency, this is the logical endgame to the reign of terror begun by the Go Compare adverts. Annoying, cheap music? Check. Catchy but annoying tune? Check. It's for a website? Check. Punchable actor? Check. The worst thing is we'll be singing this all day now. And we don't even have a car.

Iceland - Christmas 2008 Allstars

Christmas with Coleen Nolan and Kerry Katona? Jason, run for your life.

BT Infinity - Hola

Perhaps a touch harsh this one, but there's no doubt BT deserve a place on this hallowed list for either this series of ads as a whole, or the appalling pseudo-soap opera starring Kris Marshall which ran for 7 agonising years. This one gets our vote purely, and entirely, due to hating the girl in the flat who, being clearly hugely annoyed at having a group of better-looking girls taking the attention of her flatmates, desperately tries to find something wrong with them, and succeeds, thus spoiling probably the one moment of fun in their otherwise joyless existence where all they talk about is their broadband connection speed. Well done, jealous girl, I hope you're proud of yourself.

Kelloggs - Kelly Holmes

We repeat, we repeat: advertisers, using sports stars does not mean a good advert will result. Making Giggsy and Figo look like Anthony Hopkins and Michael Caine, Kelly Holmes turns in the absolute ultimate wooden performance. If we eat breakfast does it mean we become that boring? We might skip it in that case.

Admiral - Cry Baby

Everyone involved in this advert should take a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror and take stock of their lives. That includes the parrot.