November 13, 2001
6:14 AM   Subscribe

The world of annoying advertising mascots took a hit yesterday with the death of Carrie Donovan, the goggle-eyed fashion doyenne who appeared in 42 Old Navy commercials. I'll remember the performance fleece jingle on my deathbed. Were those ads the worst commercials ever?
posted by rcade (62 comments total)
If not the worst, then so close as to be indistinguishable.

But I still buy pants there, I must admit (and I'd buy shirts if they had Tall sizes). So ignore me.
posted by tommasz at 6:18 AM on November 13, 2001

as always, i'm saddened to hear of the passing of a lovely human being. but if she'd done another one of those damn commercials, i'd have killed her myself.
posted by phalkin at 6:19 AM on November 13, 2001

I have to confess that when she disappeared from the commercials, I missed her. I think it's a case of Stockholm syndrome.
posted by rcade at 6:22 AM on November 13, 2001

They may have been the worst commericals, but as you mention, you've certainly remembered them.

Commercials don't need to be good to be effective.
posted by FreezBoy at 6:24 AM on November 13, 2001

Heh, Ex-Lax has to be a prime contender.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:31 AM on November 13, 2001

The Leek's fantasy--Old Navy Moves from Commercial to Entertainment--will never be fulfulled.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:32 AM on November 13, 2001

I really felt like finding her and shooting her when she was doing those commercials. I think I might still put a couple of rounds into her dead body.
posted by trioperative at 6:32 AM on November 13, 2001

I saw those commercials as a clear sign that I was not in Old Navy's demographic. I admit I hate Old Navy, but I kept thinking, "What the hell? Am I an old fogey already? What is this? This is a stupid commercial."

There's a homogenized white middle-class look to the drones who frequent the place. It wouldn't be too difficult to imagine them all with blond hair and blue eyes, eager to join the next Master Race.

[OK, prepare yourself for all the non-blonde non-blue-eyed Naviites who just took offense.]
posted by fleener at 6:33 AM on November 13, 2001

Here we go again. Let's watch as the Metafiltians wax elitist about all the boring average Americans and their lack of culture and taste.

Oh and fleener I apologize in advance for my Blonde hair and blue eyes.
posted by glenwood at 6:39 AM on November 13, 2001

Awww... Worst?? Are you an ad-pup, rcade?? Think back through the advertizing carnage of yesteryear:

"hey, Cookieman..."
"Where's The Beef?"
"Atsa Spicey Meatball..."
"I've Fallen, and I can't get up!"
"It's the Pocket Fisherman!"
"I'd like to buy the world a Coke, and keep it company..."

On the Nightshade scale of suicide-inducing commercials, those Old Navys were a virtual gnat bite. But now at least I know who that old gal was: I thought she was some kind of deathless refugee from the panel of "What's My Line?"
posted by Perigee at 6:40 AM on November 13, 2001

What Carrie Donovan did for the careers of many clothes lines, including DKNY, was absolutely amazing. She was a very intelligent woman, even if she looked like Jiang Zemin and vice versa with those big glasses. The Old Navy commercials were funny and campy - which is what they were supposed to be. You could see pictures of her in the NYTimes last year in a big fur coat (I don't advocate fur coats, don't flame me!) with those glasses and you could imagine her voice as her hand was kissed by the camera. Goodbye, Ms. Donovan, you were di-vine.
posted by pooldemon at 6:42 AM on November 13, 2001

Go back to the suburbs, hippie.
posted by trioperative at 6:44 AM on November 13, 2001

Any election commercial has to be worse than any product commercial.
posted by adampsyche at 6:49 AM on November 13, 2001

We can thank Old Navy (low cost fashion) and Target (Wal-Mart for non-rednecks) for bringing our living standards up a notch or two. Sure the commercials are campy and annoying in a stylish sort of way... but all in all I think it's great that these marketers targeted style conscious people on a budget.
posted by wfrgms at 7:07 AM on November 13, 2001

Hey, anyone seen that Burger King commercial? No?

posted by jragon at 7:15 AM on November 13, 2001

"...and a very fine Chardonnay."
"Where exactly have they gone anyway?"
"Straight to the bottom of the property ladder!"
"She'll be back the moment she runs out of leg wax."
"Well, I'd go tomorrow."
"You said that yesterday."

"Sclub Seven".

"That's why Americans call us limeys."
posted by Mocata at 7:18 AM on November 13, 2001

A more important question: who's the blonde model with the legs who says "you gotta get this look"? It can't be glenwood, since it's a robot.

back to the suburbs, hippie

Where I come from, all the hippies live in the city; the suburbs are republican strongholds. You can still get schmoke, though. Not that I would. I heard you can, that's all. A friend of mine told me. No, really.
posted by UncleFes at 7:21 AM on November 13, 2001

Whassup. *SCREAM*
posted by Summer at 7:30 AM on November 13, 2001

The leggy spokesmodel is none other than former MTV House of Style co-host Molly Sims, and I like her style.
posted by whuppy at 7:35 AM on November 13, 2001

UncleFes- I believe that leggy model's name is Molly Sims. She also works for MTV hosting House of Style.
posted by raintea at 7:36 AM on November 13, 2001

Damn! Whuppy beat me to it!
posted by raintea at 7:36 AM on November 13, 2001

the commercials may be annoying, but they certainly are effective. You even remeber the name of the product. :)
posted by jbelshaw at 7:45 AM on November 13, 2001

Old Navy Ads = cute guys

'nuff said
posted by yesster at 8:00 AM on November 13, 2001

While Old Navy ads are certainly a gigantic caraway seed in one's pop-cultural teeth, they are nothing compared to the root canal of the Taco Bell campaign as of late. Remember the one that eviscerated the "Bonanza" theme? Or the "My Sharona" debacle? And you thought it couldn't get worse after the chihuahua.
posted by Skot at 8:01 AM on November 13, 2001


Sorry. Does anyone remember the Rasta-tinged "Rad Red Cheeps Mon" campaign? *shudder*
posted by glenwood at 8:14 AM on November 13, 2001

Molly Sims.

She's rather fetching.
posted by UncleFes at 8:27 AM on November 13, 2001

I cannot believe I just read someone suggesting shooting a woman's corpse over a television commercial. They suck, but honestly. . .
posted by Dreama at 8:31 AM on November 13, 2001

Molly Sims = Twitch Girl! I'm sorry, but I'd take Carrie Donovan's commercials over hers *any day * because she looks like she's either twitching or she's got a serious tic!
posted by metrocake at 8:34 AM on November 13, 2001

Worst ad ever was only shown in the (English) Midlands in the late 70s or the early 80s. Idiot called Wally asks Bimbo how much she paid for her new car. She whispers into his ear and he faints, with the slogan, "Find out why Wally fainted at Swithland Motors". The woodenness of the acting had to be seen to be believed.
posted by salmacis at 8:41 AM on November 13, 2001

either twitching or she's got a serious tic!

My love for her transcends her disability :)
posted by UncleFes at 8:56 AM on November 13, 2001

I think it is wonderful that in these silly times, when our cultural consciousness is so weighed down by the ridiculous need to contemplate the preciousness of human life and the tragedy of its loss, we can still make light of the death, after protracted illness, of a woman who has committed the worst crime of all: not entertaining every single one of us to the point of shear delight. When it comes right down to it, she's worse than those terrorists hurling planes at us from the sky!

She might have family or friends who feel the loss, but that can't possibly compare to the clever one-liners we can toss out as we drift through Metafilter, our pit-stop on the porn-and-marketing superhighway.

I am inspired now to make a pilgrimage to New York City. Yes, I'll track down those walls plastered with photos of the missing, the dead. But I'll do something different, something clever: I'll make fun of their hairstyles, their glasses, their clothes. Best of all, I'll point out the hastily prepared fliers with their inkjet photos and lists of identifying features, and I'll make witty comparisons to cat-lover web pages and their tacky background colors and sentimental poems.

Thank you for putting me back in touch with the real America. I can't figure out why the rest of the world hates us.
posted by troybob at 9:00 AM on November 13, 2001

The singing navel commercials are Clive Barker-creepy. I'm not kidding, that spot freaks me out.
posted by Tacodog at 9:09 AM on November 13, 2001

I keep waiting for one of the navels to say "You gotta get this look!"
posted by kfury at 9:14 AM on November 13, 2001

That's a pretty high horse, Troy. Enjoy your trip to New York.
posted by rcade at 9:21 AM on November 13, 2001

(ignoring troybob)

My problem with those Old Navy commercials is how unrealistic they are. I know a lot of old Navy guys, and they do NOT dress like that. That store had better start stocking Dickies and red flannel, or I smell a lawsuit.
posted by Hildago at 9:22 AM on November 13, 2001

Real old Navy guys wear Seafarers and chambray.
posted by alumshubby at 9:39 AM on November 13, 2001

Worst campaign ever is the Mentos barrage that hit the U.S. a few years ago, followed by that insurance company that Andy Rooney is a spokesman for.
posted by catatonic at 9:42 AM on November 13, 2001

Local commercials are always shite on a stick. In the US, they're usually for car dealerships, with shiny men and shinier women; in the UK, you're in the land of Dallas Carpets and the man with the indefensible mullet trying to flog off the roll-ends. I'm still waiting to see a US commercial that's as funny as, say, the latest Carling Black Label ad. With the crab. You know it.
posted by holgate at 9:43 AM on November 13, 2001

wow, troy, you almost made me feel guilty for this:

i like fes. fes is funny. fes makes me laugh.

worst commercial? Who remembers, "Know whad i mean, Verne." Jim Varney, wherever you are -- stay there.
posted by jeffvc at 9:47 AM on November 13, 2001

jeffvc, Jim Varney's dead, too. RIP!
posted by redshifter at 9:54 AM on November 13, 2001

I hate the "Priceless" commercials, almost as much as I hate the parodies.

That store had better start stocking Dickies and red flannel, or I smell a lawsuit.

If they carried Dickies, it would be their rip-off version, for half the price. Urban Outfitters would do the same, but for triple the price.

I do hate their commercials, but I bought a pair of olive-drab fatigues at Old Navy, they are my favorite pants... ever.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 9:56 AM on November 13, 2001

Real old Navy guys wear Seafarers and chambray.

Real old Navy guys shuffle their feet when they walk and sport blurry mermaid tattoos on their forearms... How cool is that?
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 9:59 AM on November 13, 2001

You guys are all missing the real worst commercial ever. Has anyone ever seen the commercials for the CraftMatic adjustable bed? There was one a few years ago that was absolutely terrible. It had the guy with no lips against a pink background talking about the bed. Then there was this couple enthusiastically calling to order one, while a split-screen showed an operator just sitting there smiling, waiting for their call. It was so awful, I used to call everyone around to the TV whenever it came on to just revel in its heinous suck.
posted by stopgap at 10:03 AM on November 13, 2001

Clearly, none of you live anyplace near a Carl's Junior restaurant. Their ads have to be the worst (the announcer's voice dripping with cheesy-cool, the sloppy dripping burgers and the stoned-out looking teens...the horror...)

If you ask me, the stoned teen look has to be the biggest trend in fast food pitches as of late. Can't wait for Burger King to launch the "Big 420 Burger."
posted by Neologian at 10:31 AM on November 13, 2001

glenwood, it is not elitist to be offended by Old Navy. On the contrary, it is the people who shop at Old Navy that I have found to be elitist and entirely superficial, judging me first by my clothes, hair cut and ethnic features. Get a life.
posted by fleener at 11:12 AM on November 13, 2001

"clap on.... clap off... clap on... the clapper!"

And then, the gloriously terrifying vision of that evil leprechaun of a woman smacking her claws together and then simultaneously flipping over, dragging the covers up and throwing the viewer the stink-eye. Her feral dexterity made you think of those murderous little homunculi in Cronenberg's "The Brood."

I think it was the same lady who'd fallen and couldn't get up. She creeped me out them, and she creeps me out now.

posted by UncleFes at 12:08 PM on November 13, 2001

My vote for the most annoying spokesbeing ever has got to be Carrot Top. Not only is he freakish looking, he has an annoying, in your face delivery that sends me scrambling for the voodoo dolls and the extra sharp pins each and every time.

Bring me the head of Carrot-Top.
posted by ottergrrl at 12:11 PM on November 13, 2001

Carrot Top must die.

And if I see one more "patriotic" commercial trying to sell me somthing, I'm going to puke.
posted by Down10 at 12:40 PM on November 13, 2001

Has anyone ever seen the commercials for the CraftMatic adjustable bed?


(that one, right?)
posted by EngineBeak at 12:56 PM on November 13, 2001

i can't believe i ate the whooooole thing.

speaking of annoying commercials, when i was a kid, my sisters and i would sing all the jingles of the foods we passed while ma was shopping. the one i remember best is "fruit bars, so good and ugly -- fruit bars, so good and UGLY!"
posted by meep at 2:00 PM on November 13, 2001

Molly Sims, you say? Sit down. I would like to get to know you.
posted by owillis at 2:29 PM on November 13, 2001

Actually, Enginebeak, it was more like "Thirtainly, Thir!" Now that you shook that loose in my brainpan, I remember her Sylvester-like delivery used to drive me into the streets.
posted by Perigee at 4:18 PM on November 13, 2001

Carrot Top is currently the worst ad running. Death to Carrot Top and whatever telephone company he's pitching (I mute the ads and don't look so I have no idea who.)

The ads for the wine that echo's "Canyon" are awful, too.
Says something like "It's Cresent canyon...canyon...canyon...canyon."
Oh...the worst.
posted by aacheson at 4:34 PM on November 13, 2001

My vote is for any commercial, at any time, touting any product as EXTREME®

That horse was dead from the beginning, and still they continue to flog it for all they're worth. Deoderant is just not extreme, people. I guess it works though, because they keep using it.

Anyone from Downstate Illinois(I doubt there are many of us, but anyway) will doubtless know about the worst and most ubiquitous local commercials ever. They're for a law firm, Kanoski and associates.

*cut to scene*(insurance agents, haughtily inform an accident victim that his claim will not be paid. He hands them a summons.)

- Insurance agents(still haughtily)"Oh, you have a lawyer?"

*reads summons*

"R-r-ron K-k-kanoski?" *shuddering*

"Let's settle this one." *gavel bangs*

And then Robert Vaughn(who you may know from such films as Superman III, and C.H.U.D II - Bud the Chud) comes on and extolls the virtues of this obviously high-class law firm. It plays like 6 times every day during the Simpsons hour. It is inexorably driving me ever-closer to the brink of madness.
posted by jdunn_entropy at 5:28 PM on November 13, 2001

To paraphrase Douglas Coupland(he was talking about the Gap but it applies here "[Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic/The Limited's] goal is turn all human beings in to those Male/Female blue symbols on the restroom door."
Well, that and to convince people to wear clothing that functions as advertisement for the place where they bought the clothing.AND to pay for the privelige.
posted by jonmc at 5:59 PM on November 13, 2001

"I've fallen and I can't get up."

I suppose if anything even classes as a runner-up, it would be

"Larry H. Parker got me 2.1 million dollars."


And pretty much anything else that used to run during "Divorce Court" and "The Judge" when I was in high school.
posted by chiheisen at 9:50 PM on November 13, 2001

I think the new goldfish commercial is notable for its mildly disturbing jingle. And not just for the "wholesome snack that smiles back until you bite their heads off!" bit, either. What's with the strangely self referential first two lines? And how is the fact that the pretzel fish is winning supposed to make me feel good about Goldfish? It probably doesn't help that the song itself sounds like something off of a Sid and Marty Kroft tribute album. I guess I don't know whether to read it as a sophisticated attempt to induce some sort of cognitive dissonance, or just the result of a long series of bad decisions.

As for all time worst commercials, I'd have to nominate the Duracell "plastic family" spots from several years ago. They marked the first time I boycotted a product based on the craptitude of a commercial. These days, though, a list of my least favorites would have to include the previously mentioned Carl's Jr. spots, the Radio Shack ads starring Howie Green, Teri Hatcher, and their mutual hatred for each other, and the Heinz ketchup commercials, on the basis of that overcooked look-we're-just-as-bored-and-cynical-as-you-kids voice over.
posted by crumbly at 10:30 PM on November 13, 2001

I love the Goldfish song, it's so delightfully bizarre. The self-referential nature of the lyrics ("we wrote a song for Goldfish!") is probably a nod to the theme for "It's Garry Shandling's Show."

This is the theme to Garry's Show,
The theme to Garry's show.
Garry called me up and asked if I would write his theme song.
I'm almost halfway finished,
How do you like it so far?
How do you like the theme to Garry's Show?
posted by kindall at 11:45 PM on November 13, 2001

All I want to know is whether annoying advertising is intentionally or unintentionally annoying. The world is filed with enough people with bad taste that I cannot tell.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:48 AM on November 14, 2001

jdunn_entropy: Robert Vaughn has a nice little franchise going, because we have the same commercial down here in South Carolina, except for another attorney (can't remember the name, McCoy or something).

To quote Jessica Lange (as Patsy Cline, in the movie Sweet Dreams): "It makes me want to scream, and claw my face!"
posted by ebarker at 8:05 AM on November 14, 2001

All those injury law firm commercials annoy me. We have one here in Bloomington with the scene from the insurance company: "We'll make him a lowball offer, he'll take it."
"He's got a lawyer."
"Who'd he get?"
(voice of dread): "Ken Nunn."
(ominous music)
"This is gonna cost us a lot of money!"

There's also the Lincoln Tech "This is my job/THIS is my CAREER" commercials. We get those here and in the Chicago area.

But the world's worst commercial, and anyone in the Chicago area will know exactly what I am talking about...Eagle Insurance!
"What was that?"
"Do you have insurance on this car?"
"It must be Eagle Man!"
(Did anyone else find it odd that even though it's Eagle MAN, he lays an egg?)
posted by SisterHavana at 1:09 PM on November 14, 2001

Ya know, call me crazy, but if there's one (fairly) recent ad campaign I hate more than the Donovan Old Navy ads, its.....the "Gotta Get This Look!" Old Navy ads. Good grief, that Molly Sims gets on my nerves. Whatever happened to the look she told me to get last week? I mean, I know MANY ad campaigns deal with the company trashing the old and celebrating the new, but it's just so BLATANT in the Sims Old Navy ads. Teen Thought Police, here we come!

In my not so unbiased opinion, the greatest ad campaign of all time was Volkswagen's campaign during the '60s. One of my favorites is for the Karmann Ghia (for the uninitiated, the KG was a pseudo-sports car VW made from the late '50s until the mid '70s, with an absolutely stunning body designed by Ghia of Italy riding atop a slightly modified Beetle platform & drivetrain - all hand-built by Karmann Coachworks), playing up its sports car looks and Beetle power:

headline: "It looks beautiful because Volkswagen doesn't build it."
body: "Ask Volkswagen to build a small economy car. Fine. Ask Volkswagen to build a big practical station wagon. Very good. But ask Volkswagen to build a beautiful sports car?
Well, not even Volkswagen would ask Volkswagen to do that.
So, we asked the Ghia Studios of Turin, Italy to design the body of our sports car, and the Karmann Coachworks of Osnabruck, Germany to build it.
The Karmann people attack our sports car the way they've been attacking things for the past hundred years: slowly and carefully.
The fenders are welded and shaped and sanded and burnished by hand.
And once the body is formed, they give the Karmann Ghia four coats of paint, including a rust proofing zinc undercoat and a hand sprayed enamel color coat.
If it all sounds very complicated, it is. But we can't afford to take any chances.
When we tried to build a sedan, it ended up looking like a beetle.
We didn't want to make the same mistake twice."

I hate Old Navy-ish super-in-your-face GET THIS LOOK GET IT NOW NOW NOW advertising. VW & Doyle Dane Bernbach in the '60s perfected the soft sell. I hate "Now, BETTER THAN EVER!" Do what they did - tell me WHY it's better.

I'm probably a minority these days, though.
posted by Spirit_VW at 9:39 PM on November 15, 2001

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