The Worst Commercial Ever

This is probably the worst commercial I have ever seen. It is perfectly designed to make someone never want to use Ancestry.com.

To recap: This commercial introduces us to Scott Krinsky, a regular guy who has a cute little story about where his ancestors came from: “The story was that my grandfather was born on the boat on the way over here. In school they had us put a tack on the map where our grandparents were born: Mine was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.” You can even hear the happiness in his voice as he tells the story. Then he goes on Ancestry.com and finds out… no, that’s not what happened. His grandfather was born in Poland, like tens of millions of other people.

Instead of leaving this poor guy alone after annihilating the myth his family has told for generations, the commercial goes on. It actually forces Scott to muster up the most insincere-sounding enthusiasm on behalf of the “service” Ancestry.com has just provide: “Wow. He was actually born in Poland. That’s amazing.” No, Scott, no it’s not.

Scott’s story ends with him talking about moving the pin over to “its proper place,” thus conjuring up the image of a schoolboy forced to relinquish the sense of pride and uniqueness that this family legend has presumably given him. The commercial might as well end with the slogan, “Ancestry.com: Crushing Dreams Since 1983.”

What’s so disheartening about Scott’s story is that it is so relatable. Every family has little myths and stories about their forerunners that get passed down and retold for generations. The fact that they get retold so often means that they inevitably get changed: They get embellished, censored, partially forgotten, confused with other stories, etc. As such, they make up the oral history of our families.

And here comes Ancestry.com, offering to wipe it all away. What’s so perplexing about the ad is that Ancestry.com chose this story specifically. The site has over a million subscribers—presumably one of them had a story about such a myth being confirmed, or even enhanced, by the historical record. And yet they chose to air Scott getting his hopes dashed.

This speaks either to a colossal misunderstanding of why people would use the site, or an admirably direct approach to advertising.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by adpraisal on February 15, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    I found the whole thing horribly cheesy and slightly saddening that a lone man like Scott finds so much joy from Ancestry.com

    Reply

  2. Posted by Weylin (AKA Alaric) on February 16, 2012 at 12:34 AM

    Can you imagine if they did a commercial with the Cave Men?! So many possibilities… Now THAT would be the worst commercial ever…

    Reply

  3. Posted by Weylin (AKA Alaric) on February 16, 2012 at 2:43 AM

    Yes; similarly, one of the BEST aspects of the 2011 Redskins season, for me, were commercials such as these: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1i0fQWDSU4 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FW-x07tPUtw …I especially like the second commercial, although the first has that “pancake social” line… My praise, perhaps should be slightly qualified as one commenter points out:

    “GEICO has screwed these commercials up sooooo bad. When they first came out, it was the CAVEMAN who was smart. Remember, “….the roast duck with the mango salsa.” That commercial was so good they made a TV show of it. And what do these numbskulls do? They change the commercials so the caveman is the idiot! Aggggggggh! IDIOTS! Man, anything good comes out, and idiots screw it up. So sad. I loved that first caveman commercial. GEICO, want me to write you a great commercial? Respond”

    Idiots indeed. Anyway, can you imagine if Caveman were from Poland??? That WOULD BE amazing!

    Reply

  4. Posted by doc on February 16, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    I like the commercial. We did some research in the real world on one of your writer’s (Josh, maybe) great-grandmother. Josh’s middle name starts with an “M” which was named after his great-grandmother whose first name started with an “M” (it’s a religious thing). His grandmother, her daughter, was not pleased as Josh’s first name should have started with an “M” (he would have been called Matt and in all likelihood he would have had an entirely different life). But then the story takes a twist. We found out that Josh’s great-grandmother May used her middle name as her first name, so it was actually a perfect match with her great-grandson. It also turned out that she was a bastard, which was a bit shocking, as she was a very nice woman. And the most astounding find; she was Polish too and Jacob Krinsky was her lover and that guy in the commercial is Josh’s cousin.

    Reply

  5. […] 1,000 posts, only a few hundred of which have been collections of links, one-sentence jokes, or reviews of commercials! Somewhere in there we actually had substantive arguments about political and legal theory, the […]

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