Matthew Miller
Dec 5, 2018

The 10 most disappointing ads of 2018

Our listicle-based look at the year in APAC marketing continues with the 10 campaigns that earned our derision.

The 10 most disappointing ads of 2018

2018 IN REVIEW: Throughout December we're looking back at the year in APAC marketing, advertising and communications—listicle-style.

Today, we follow up on yesterday's list of our favourite ads from 2018 by presenting the 10 ads that made us cringe the hardest, roll our eyes the furthest, get the maddest or lose the will to live the mostest. As always, we don't call these the "worst" ads because surely the worst work is the work that no one notices or remembers. These ads appear here because they did stand out—just not in good ways.

The work is presented roughly in order of descending egregiousness. But to be honest, this list is not as aggressively awful as it has been in previous years, like 2017. Many of the selections are merely completely devoid of inspiration and painfully boring, rather than being actively offensive.  

No, a keyboard app can't 'prevent tragedy from depression'
Advertiser: Samsung
Agency: BBDO

We have a slick, emotional case film that makes an inflated claim, coupled with an app that seems inadequate to a task that may be too tall of an order in any case. It's pretty hard to look at all the evidence and conclude this isn't another tiresome case of a brand and agency trying too hard to hard to win awards.

Jenga in a moving car? Please. 
Advertiser: MRF
Agency: Lowe Lintas Bangalore

Why create a product demonstration that's obviously complete and utter bullshit?

HSBC re-hatches insurance brand, with a tepid egg story
Advertiser: HSBC Life
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi

The kid's cute and all, but neither the positioning nor the initial work stands out much in the sea of mind-numbing sameness that is insurance advertising, at least in this market.

New Australian lamb ad divides opinion, again

Advertiser: Meat & Livestock Australia
Agency: The Monkeys

Critical Australian netizens have panned the new ad for, in turn, being crass and tone deaf in its attempted political satire, being confusing as the lamb reveal only really comes at the end, and being far too long, so people aren’t bothering to get to the end.

On your marks, get set…cliché

Advertiser: Standard Chartered
Agency: TBWA

‘Good enough will never change the world’ says Stanchart, and neither will their ad. 

Neymar Jr and Emily Ratajkowski kick zombie butt in Replay ad for China
Advertiser: Replay
Agency: 180 Kingsway

The video doesn't even bother to follow through on the setup inherent in its title, 'Attack of the stiff-jean Zombies'. Neither the supposed stiff-leggedness that the zombies suffer due to their inferior taste in jeans, nor the flexibility that the two protagonists enjoy due to their intelligent choice of Hyperflex+ jeans, plays any part whatsoever in the "plot", such as it is.

Mobile carrier promotes 'magic'...Zzzzzzzzzzzzz
Advertiser: Telstra
Agency: The Monkeys

We were hoping the scene pictured below signified some kind of plot twist into a Carrie-on-prom-night situation, but no such luck.

Bank's cartoon characters are perhaps a bit too cartoonish
Advertiser: Bankwest
Agency: Union

We can't expect every campaign to push gender-role boundaries. But at the same time, it's depressing to see so many campaigns stick to them so slavishly. It would be nice, once in a while, to see a woman who is super into a sporting activity. Or a dude who likes to shop while on vacation. 

NEC's 'Same face girls' video is accurately named, disturbing

Advertiser: NEC
Agency: Dentsu

If you have a fetish for Uncanny Valley-style horror, you might want to check out the behind the scenes video (click here and scroll down to the 'Ad gallery'). Because why should we be the only ones to enjoy future nightmares populated by people with neck faces?

Diamond-buying messages are forever
Advertiser: Diamond Producers Association
Agency: BBH China

The campaign is, according to the agency, meant to resonate especially with today's younger, more cynical consumers. Funny then, that we'd be hard-pressed to say how it's in any way different from any diamond-marketing campaign from any market in the world since DeBeers launched 'A Diamond is Forever' in 1948.

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