US Data Corporation Direct Marketing Blog

16 Most Annoying Ad Mascots on TV Today7:01 am


By Guest Blogger

Every company needs a mascot. But some don’t always make the best “branding” decision. Whether you’re talking about an insurance company, a carmaker, a breakfast cereal, or a credit card, there are loads of annoying icons out there to champion the cause of an entire brand.

Here are the 16 Most Annoying Ad Mascots on TV Today, as we see it. Do you agree or disagree? Make sure to sound off in the comments section below.

1. Flo from Progressive Insurance

No one likes buying insurance, so if you’re going to run a nationally televised campaign for the stuff, you’d better do better than Flo. Played by actress Stephanie Courtney and dreamed up by the guys at Boston marketing agency Arnold Worldwide, Flo not only suffers from an unfortunate association to a specific time of the month for women, she also has an over-the-top fake smile and commercials that are stuffed with bad jokes.

YouTube Video Link

2. Dancing Hamsters from Kia

Hamsters are bad enough pets. We don’t need them selling us cars, especially the kind that throw in a cutesy dance attempt while doing so. The Hip-Hop Hamsters look and act like fur-ball versions of the Village People, for the 21st Century of course, and you’ve got the David & Goliath agency to thank for it. But what do we really know? Currently, Adweek.com is running a poll that shows the hamsters with a 64% favorable rating. Crazy!

YouTube Video Link

3. Peggy from Discover Card

Tudor Petrut, the Romanian born actor who brought Discover Card’s Peggy to life, will probably never be able to live this one down. While continuing to chase superstardom at the fringe of the acting and screenwriting business, he works as a high school algebra teacher, while having his biggest job-the inept off-shore customer service representative for a faux competitor of Discover Card-also remain his biggest curse.

YouTube Video Link


4. Erin Esurance from eSurance

Note to eSurance: you can come up with however many spy/superheroes that you want, but you’re still not going to excite us about a product that only pays when we are dead, sick, or injured. Special Agent Erin Esurance was a pink-haired animated woman posing as an agent for auto insurance. The attempt to sexy up the profession was a little insulting to consumers, as it tried to divert us from the main reason we even consider purchasing insurance to begin with.

YouTube Video Link

5. The Duck from Aflac

Aside from first being voiced by Gilbert Gottfried, a man who’s made “annoying” his career, the Aflac Duck is the biggest one-trick pony in the history of TV marketing. The company changed course in 2011 to voice-over artist Daniel McKeague, but the gist of the joke is the same it’s been since 1999 when the Duck first appeared. There are only so many laughs you can get out of a misunderstood duck shouting the name of the insurance company over and over again. It may finally be time for the company to go the way of the Priceline negotiator and kill this little fella off…for good!

YouTube Video Link

6. Mr. Mucus from Mucinex

Yes, depicting snot as a cartoon will make it more palatable…uh no, it won’t! These green globs of gruff talking phlegm have been getting ousted by Mucinex for a while now, along with the lunches of anyone unfortunate enough to see their commercials. Still, he can move medicine. Since his inception, the little green guy has had a pretty “healthy” impact on the corporate bottom line. Since launching the branding initiative in 2005, Mucinex has enjoyed a 61% increase in sales.

YouTube Video Link

7. The Band from FreeCreditReport.com

Remember back when the FreeCreditReport.com guys were actually funny? If so, then you’re thinking about the commercials they did pre-2009. Since that time, as a result of the government getting tough with Experian (the site’s owners), about “deceptive marketing practices” that were used in the ads, the company had to change their ads. As a result, the company has replaced the original band of slackers and the quality has gone down the tubes noticeably! This is why you may have to search high-and-low for the new commercials on YouTube. Tip: Don’t bother, not worth it.

YouTube Video Link

8. Fruit Guys from Fruit of the Loom

The Fruit Guys have shown up in a number of Fruit of the Loom commercials over the years, usually singing some song about underwear. The most obnoxious was the collaboration with Vince Gill, who’s pretty annoying in his own right. Mix these two together, and you’ve got an ad that makes us never want to wear underwear again. However, it does not end there. As recently as late 2011, the Fruit Guys were still churning out skid-mark worthy harmonies (pardon the pun).

YouTube Video Link

9. Mr. Opportunity from Honda Clearance

Take an already potentially annoying art form known as opera and mix it with a bland, boring cartoon of some white guy with lame dance moves, and what do you get? One of several annoying ads in the Mr. Opportunity Honda Clearance ad campaign, that’s what! If this guy were any more drab and boring than he is, he could run for President. It’s a crying shame that Honda, with its large advertising budget, felt this was the BEST they could do.

YouTube Video Link

10. Orbit Chewing Gum

“Fah-bulous!” The Orbit Chewing Gum girl has been played by Vanessa Branch and now Farris Patton since the company’s “Dirty Mouth” campaign started more than a decade ago. Looks like we’re in the minority thinking this is one of the most annoying ad campaigns in TV history. A lot of people like the toilet humor. Then again, a lot of people seemed to like the Austin Powers movies. Doesn’t mean the series should go on.

YouTube Video Link

11. Foghorn Leghorn from Geico

Foghorn Leghorn would have to be the least-liked Looney Tunes character in the bunch. An obnoxious Southern hick rooster, who can’t just shut up and get on with the sentence, he has been tapped over the years by Kentucky Fried Chicken and Geico as a spokesperson. While his antics may be serviceable in a Merrie Melodies cartoon, he’s downright, I say “downright,” aggravating in the world of advertising.

YouTube Video Link

12. Poppin’ Fresh from Pillsbury

More commonly known as the Pillsbury Doughboy, this little guy has a high-pitched squeak of a voice and makes a really obnoxious laugh whenever you poke him in the belly. While the laugh is fine for one commercial, compound that over the course of close to 50 years and more than 600 commercials, and you can see why those of us 30 or older can’t stand him.

YouTube Video Link

13. Gecko from Geico

Created by The Martin Agency and first appearing in 1999, the Gecko of today isn’t what he used to be. He was originally voiced by Kelsey Grammer of the TV show “Frasier,” and his annoyance at being confused for Geico because he was a gecko was somewhat clever. Now he suffers from over-saturation and a horrid Cockney accent. (And no more Grammer.) Constant advertising on Hulu Plus has also gone a long way in destroying this little guy’s likability.

YouTube Video Link

14. Mr. Six from Six Flags

Six Flags could not have foreseen the creepiness factor of Mr. Six when they originally commissioned the tux-wearing elderly gentleman with the huge glasses and the slick dance-party moves from Michigan ad agency Doner Advertising. Or maybe they could have and just didn’t care. Despite trying to retire the gent in 2005, the Internet, particularly YouTube, has kept the geezer alive through a multitude of parodies. Eventually, Six Flags re-embraced him and even gave him a sidekick (Little Six).

YouTube Video Link

15. Yella Fella from Yellawood.com

Give the folks at Great Southern Wood one thing: they sure do know how to design an ad campaign around nostalgia. Their “Yella Fella” mascot, who wears yellow cowboy attire and rides around the range beating the crap out of people, who don’t use his product hearkens back to the God-awful Saturday matinee westerns of Roy Rogers and Randolph Scott. Unfortunately, they’re also marred in bad puns and a potbellied hero, who is anything but convincing.

YouTube Video Link

16. Dusty the Dusthole

The Nevada Department of Air Quality Management’s “Dusty the Dusthole” campaign, brought to life by Las Vegas native Alan Burd, turns off-road enthusiasts into one of the most vilified groups in the state. Pretty sad stuff when the state has much bigger problems to worry about, such as one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Instead of using the advertising monies on something constructive, Nevada feels the need to produce stereotypically offensive messages about a relatively harmless group of hobbyists. Good job there, guys.

YouTube Video Link

  • http://www.twitter.com/hanelly andrew

    You can call them annoying and obnoxious, but you also have to call them effective and memorable.

  • Raymond

    I like the Kia hamsters and the Geico commercials are usually all way above average in the advertising world.

  • Matt

    Those are all bad but I think the absolute worst are the Geico pig commercials. Its so obnoxious to me that I change the channel every time it comes on. Other ones I cant stand are the arbys good mood food commercials and the golden corral commercials.

  • Pingback: Commercials annoying | Billpearson

  • sick o commercials

    1) Geico pig commercials
    2) Dell Inspiron 5th grader flying commercial – they showed this commercial once three times in one commercial break…not kidding
    3) Valspar
    4) State Farm commercials (those guys screaming the like a good neighbor song)
    5) Kashi commercials (bald fat surfer guy talking about being healthy, high pitched brunette picking cacao we’re on a mission to cause health food cravings wtf)
    6) New one – horrible – Common Sense.org lady talking to her tween about her excessive texting – really really stupid
    7) One Touch blood sugar meter feels so right…

    Commercials these days are horrible. It seems they’re designed to be annoying just to catch your attention. If that helps them sell products great but I’m at the point where I want to cancel my cable package.

    • Julianne Ture

      Except that it doesn’t actually help them sell products, because so many people are so turned off by them that they want nothing to do with whatever’s being advertised.

  • CaRol M

    The latest v-8 about the brain waves and the hollering man…So annoying that I just switch channels…..Stanley steemer promoting homosexuals instead of product…SICK! Please re-do them!
    The Geico pig is sickening and retarded…,

  • CaRol M

    One other is the “got milk” where the mother has an accent and pronounces milk like me..allk and when the kid comes she BENDS down to greet her…Who does that? Totally annoying..yes, we remember these commercials but not in a positive way.

  • YO MOMMA

    All yall are crazy, old, and boring because these are the best mascots

  • Bobby

    Flo does not belong on that list.

    • doc4543

      Flo needs to be asasinated. She would look better on the third commercial if she had a set of crosshairs pictured on her face. She is annoying stupid ugly irrigating (she pisses me off) irritating (kind of like a bad case of groan gald).

  • Bananas

    these are certainly not annoying.

    • doc4543

      If these aren’t annoying to you, what the hell is. Granted there are many that are as bad, and a hell-av-a lot more that are worse. But these are damn sure bad too.

  • Phil Kabor

    The fact that you’ve even posted such a list is a testament to the effectiveness of each mascot (because in case you hadn’t noticed, all of these mascots lead extremely successful products and campaigns). Pat yourself on the back, my friend, because you’re like the guy in the street with the sign reading “Keep the Government Out of My Medicare!” Oh, the delicious, priceless irony…

    • LetMeWasteYourMoney

      Non sequitur. I get the feeling you’d rather be bitching about something else.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mike.romine Michael Romine

      If you would stop for a moment from listening to the sweet sound of your smugness, you would realize it is not good for company’s to be remembered for annoying commercials. Thats bad advertising. I would be more likely to pass on afleck because of that stupid duck. Just because they shove these stupid commercials down are throat doesn’t make them as effective as good commercials.

  • Mair

    That dimwit in those QBIDS ads with the manic high pitched grating chatter eager to sell you an i-pad for 20 bucks or a new car for a few hundred$, oh please. And what’s with all the jerky hand movements? She needs to put down the crack pipe and drive her bargain basement Honda to rehab. And no texting on the $5 i-phone while driving either. Can’t believe people fall for this crap.

  • Ed

    The Jackson Hewitt commercial. I like the song but come on almost every 15 minutes.

  • evilplatypus

    For everyone saying that these commercials are “doing their job” because they’re memorable or whatever:
    These commercials remind me NOT to do business with these companies EVER under ANY circumstances. I would rather drive uninsured than patronize Progressive, I hate Flo so passionately. I will never do ANY business with ETrade because of the talking baby (same for Bickford’s restaurant).

    Imagine flipping through the television channels to find that the movie/television show you hate more than any other is on every flippin’ channel. That’s how I feel about these commercials.

    Jar Jar Binks was very “memorable,” but NOBODY liked Phantom Menace any more BECAUSE of him (in fact, quite the opposite).

  • Vicki

    1, 3, 5, and 12 are not annoying. I usually find those commercials entertaining. I absolutely hate the singing idiots from the cash now commercials. They expect you to take them seriously but their commercials are song and dance. My finances are more important then a song and dance and I would never trust them with it.

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