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We're Not Buying It: The Most Confusing Commercials of 2013

This year, ad executives used ballerinas to sell booze, '90s nostalgia to sell a browser, and a suicidal cat to sell a car. Confused? So are we.
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It wasn't easy to be an advertiser in 2013. With so many people choosing to cut the cable cord, capturing the remaining audience's attention took a lot more creativity. Some ad agencies responded with brilliant, moving ad campaigns that made us think as we consumed media and spent money. Other spots made us laugh until we bought. And then there were the ads that took a different route. Maybe they berated the company they represented. Maybe they made it difficult to figure out what product they were selling. Maybe they made us stare open-mouthed at the TV in fascinated horror.

However these ads garnered our attention, they definitely failed the most basic test of any commercial: they didn't make us want to buy anything. Below, we've rounded up the most confounding, most convoluted, most confusing ads of 2013. Watch them and ask yourself, as we did, what were these ad agencies thinking?

"Nutcracker" from Bailey's

If you've never made the Bailey's = ballet connection, you're not alone. Apart from the two seconds in which we see ballerinas holding martini glasses, you might not even know they were in the seediest ballet bar ever. This commercial could be used to sell anything, with the possible exception of Metallica tickets. Sorry, Bailey's, any ad pitch that includes the words "dance fight" is probably just going to confuse your would-be buyers.


"All Is Right" from Foot Locker

We have to admit, this ad really made us want to go to Foot Locker. Not to buy anything, of course, but to see the full extent of the damage wrought by a time paradox known only as "the Week of Greatness." At least, we're fairly certain it's some kind of time paradox. It's sure as hell not a shoe sale.


"Unwrap Joy" from Cadbury

The concept behind this British candy maker's commercial seems reasonable enough: opening a bar of chocolate is like opening a gift. Unfortunately, the execution of this concept is unavoidably terrifying. We can't help thinking that the whole neighborhood had to be fumigated and those poor people were trapped inside.


"Feels Good Inside" from Toyota

The 2013 Toyota Corolla will make your cat suicidal. Inexplicably, hilariously suicidal. We can't help but wonder if this ad is some sort of court-mandated public service announcement.


"Child of the '90s" from Internet Explorer

Hey guys, let's all watch this nostalgia-infused Internet Explorer commercial on Chrome. Remember Pogs? And Tamagotchi? Wow, that was so long ago. (Like the last time I used Internet Explorer — zing!) Just a thought, though: maybe a browser that's trying to look cool and hip shouldn't re-brand itself with references to dead tech from 20 years ago. The ad might as well say, "Internet Explorer: Believe It or Not, We Totally Survived the Death of Netscape."


"Live Young" from Evian

Welcome to the Uncanny Valley, home of every dancing baby animation since the original dancing baby animation of Ally McBeal fame! Today in the Valley, we'll meet a group of people suffering from a mass hallucination and muscle spasms... possibly brought on by consuming Evian water.


"More Than Medication" from Pfizer

First of all, thanks for giving us a wicked case of the feels, Pfizer. We love bursting into tears on the job. But now that we've destroyed a box of Kleenex, we're not at all sure what this ad is trying to tell us. Is Pfizer devaluing its own products? Is Pfizer branching out into holistic medicine? Is Pfizer claiming to be Banksy? Tell us why you made us cry, Pfizer!


"Please Stop" (Hoy Trial Lawyers)

About three things are we absolutely certain: Scott Hoy doesn't like consoling parents; Scott Hoy would like us to stop; and Scott Hoy is Scott Hoy. As for the rest of this commercial, your guess is as good as ours. Whatever his intent, his earnest message lends itself to such a variety of interpretations that it has spawned a meme.

The commercials above, while each is entertaining in its own right, are unnecessarily confusing to the watcher. Then again, the fact that these commercials stick out in our memory is certainly commendable; how many 2013 ads have we seen and forgotten?

So maybe we're the outliers. Readers, did any of the commercials we shared cause you to want to make a purchase? What were some of your favorite ads of the year? Most of all, what on earth is Scott Hoy trying to tell us? Leave your thoughts and interpretations in the comments below!

Features Writer

Marcy pens consumer news stories of all sorts, in addition to adding pithy prose to many of the roundups you see every day. Her work for DealNews has appeared on sites like Lifehacker, the Huffington Post, and MSN Money. She is by far the most metal member of the DealNews staff, and you can see why by following her on Twitter @ThatBonebright.
Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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2 comments
alicewell
I like the dancing babies one.
rawdogz
Scott Hoy wants us to "stop" and stop we shall... Once he tells us what in the world he is talking about..
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