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5 Cringiest Commercials From The Recent Past That You Wouldn’t Want to Watch Twice

Updated: May 19

Airing a TV commercial is not an inexpensive exercise. From agency and filming costs to talent expenses and buying media time, there are several expenses involved in commercials, which makes them the most expensive pieces of advertisement.


So, you would obviously think that a lot of work goes into the script and the message that the brand seeks to deliver through the ad. While that’s true for most companies, some brands paid no heed to the script and cinematography and came up with some of the most absurd commercials in the history of advertising.


So, here are 5 cringy commercials from the past that would make you wonder how on earth these ads got approved in the first place!


1. East Hill Mall

We get it, not everyone has the resources to bring in trained actors for their 20-second commercials. That costs a lot of money. Perfectly understood!



But just because you can’t hire actors doesn’t mean you should go around the stores in your mall and onboard people with the least amount of acting skills to star in your commercial. At least, check whether or not they can sing before you unleash them on the audience!


“Hairrrcuttttt…..- there you go, now that will remain stuck in your head for a while!


2. Nationwide

This Nationwide ad was widely panned during the 2015 Super Bowl and garnered a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons. The commercial features a boy lamenting over a list of things that he’ll never get to do like riding a bike, kissing a girl, traveling around the world, and getting married. Why? Because he passed away in a mysterious home accident!



As expected, this tasteless commercial failed to impress anyone and in fact, received a lot of criticism. People don’t want to think or talk about dead children, especially while watching a football game and eating nachos.


The heavy fire that Nationwide came under constrained it to issue a statement that clarified that the ad’s purpose was not to sell insurance but draw attention to child safety. Honestly, this justification was even more crappy than their commercial. What kind of an insurance company doesn’t want to sell insurance through their commercial!


3. Snickers

To what lengths can you exactly go to prove your manliness? Well, these two mechanics in this Snickers ad went as far as ripping out their chest hair? Why? Their lips locked accidentally while sharing a Snickers!



As expected, this Super Bowl ad didn’t quite sit well with gay rights groups who accused the commercial of being downright “homophobic”. This led to Mars pulling the ad down.


However, there’s one thing that I couldn’t understand. Why did they have to rip off their chest hair? They could have simply avoided locking their lips together again!


4. Miller Lite

Two women tearing off each other’s clothes as they get into a catfight- this is the stuff of every man’s dreams. Or at least this is what Miller Lite would want you to think. So they came up with this ad which featured two women arguing over why Miller Lite is great.



The argument soon translates into a catfight and the women end up wrestling in a fountain and wet cement. I know, quite racy, right? Yeah, except that this turns out to be a fantasy of two guys sitting at a bar.


Not cringeworthy enough? Wait for it, the women would also make out with each other at the end of the ad! Despite criticisms from many quarters, Miller Lite stood behind the ad.


5. Holiday Inn

What’s funnier than a transgender walking into a high-school reunion? Lots of things! But Holiday Inn doesn’t seem to think so!



In its 1997 Super Bowl ad, Holiday Inn featured a man who realizes that his former high-school classmate, Bob, is now a voluptuous woman. What for? To promote its extensive hotel renovations, obviously! Although Holiday Inn pulled down the ad, many of its franchises believed that the edgy ad was exactly what the company needed to connect with its younger audience.


Bottom Line

So, that was the list of some of the cringiest ads from the past. Every time I write about these ads, I think I might not find any more material in the future to refer to; marketers would definitely learn from their mistakes. But they prove me wrong every time! Hopefully, they’d keep proving us wrong each time so that we can have an endless supply of content that will help the budding marketers learn what not to do in the advertising world.