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December 20, 2011  |  'Tis the season ... for bad ads  |  6485 hit(s)

One way for me to retain sanity in the face of the commercial onslaught of Christmas is to keep an ear and/or eye out for the utterly lamest, most obvious attempt to co-opt Christmas for commercial gain. This is a periodic, if not annual, tradition: previous 1, previous 2.

The bar is low, obviously, but my favorites are always the ads in which the merchant tries to establish a connection between their blatantly off-season or aseasonal offering and the holidays. My favorite so far this year is a company that offers zipline tours up on one of the San Juan islands. The premise of their ad — and this is a typical strategy — is that so-and-so is just so hard to get a gift for, so the answer is a gift certificate for a zipline tour! The ad writer in this case felt obliged to provide some backstory on the putative recipient and why swinging through the trees was just the thing for him. Presumably the simple offer of the tour was by itself insufficiently, um, compelling.

My radio listening is way down in latter years, so I'm not really sampling broadly. This is a good thing in general, of course, since it spares me exposure to foolishness like this. On the other hand, it reduces my enjoyment of this little exercise.

Got any candidates?

PS Apologies to John McIntyre for the title.