The New South Wales government-backed ‘Stoner Sloth’ ad is so bad that the health body behind the research has even panned it.
Instead of convincing at-risk young people that “you’re worse on weed”, the ad was pilloried online with reactions ranging from disbelief to humour, spawning hundreds of parodies and jokes. It also suffered an official rebuke.
On Monday, the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre – which the NSW government said provided research for the ad – distanced itself from the marketing disaster.
“The current Stoner Sloth campaign doesn’t reflect NCPIC views on how ‘cannabis harms’ campaigns should be approached, as was implied,” NCPIC said in a statement.
“NCPIC was not advised of or consulted about creative concept – the stoner sloth idea – and learnt of it at the same point as all other Australians when the campaign was released this week, so cannot provide insights into its development.”
NSW Premier Mike Baird also seemed to suggest he wasn’t all that pleased with how the ad campaign turned out.
Just saw the #StonerSloth ads. Not sure where NSW Gov’s ad guys found Chewbaccas siblings, but those videos are… Quite something.
— Mike Baird (@mikebairdMP) December 19, 2015
But was this jovial attempt at an anti-marijuana campaign the worst ad of the year?
That’s debatable, because it was just one of many bad ads released in 2015.
Stoner sloth isn’t funny in the right way, or helpful
Whether it was Stoner Sloth at school, at the family dinner table or at a party, it was clear the campaign missed the mark.
It was funny but mainly because viewers were giggling at anyone who’d thought this approach would work. And the internet made sure everyone knew about that.
“Imagine sitting in a marketing meeting and all agreeing that #stonersloth is a good idea,” @edwin_smith1 tweeted.
“This is hilarious, but also an embarrassment to Australia … #stonersloth,” @zzap said.
To make things worse, it then emerged the website for the campaign – stonersloth.com.au – was very similar to stonersloth.com, an actual website that sells actual marijuana.
That Holden ad
According to the Advertising Standards Bureau, the Holden Colorado advertisement was the most complained about on television for 2015.
One of the complainers wrote into ASB saying: “I’m offended by the use of swearing in the ad by the parent which is then repeated by the young child.”
Another added: “Why is it acceptable or humorous to hear kids swearing? It’s not.”
Judge it for yourself. Does this ad offend you?
Woolworths’ ‘vile’ Anzac Day debacle
As Australia commemorated the 100-year anniversary of the Anzac Day landing at Gallipoli in April, Woolworths produced a stunningly insensitive moment of attempted aligned advertising.
“Fresh in our memories” was the slogan – a tribute to thousands of slain soldiers which was bizarrely linked to Woolworths’ “fresh food people” tagline.
It was not received well.
“I think it is rather vile that you would use the word association of ‘fresh’ to link with the memories of the great sacrifices made by our service women and men. It is one thing to sponsor a tribute, quite another to entwine your commercial tag line in doing so,” one person wrote on the tribute site before it was taken down by Woolworths.
“I’m disappointed Woolies is using it’s (sic) well known commercial promotional tag as part of an Anzac tribute,” a second person wrote.
“Really Woolies? Fresh in our memories?” wrote a third.
The backlash saw Woolworths quickly remove the website which had been created for the campaign.
Sportsbet’s ’50 Shades of Greyhound’
Betting companies are notorious for their very risky and often inappropriate ad campaigns.
Sportsbet offered a mash-up of the erotic 50 Shades of Grey with … greyhound racing!
It’s hard to know where to start with this ad. It insinuates a sexual relationship between a woman and a greyhound, it shows the woman dressed as a bunny fleeing from the dog (live baiting anyone?) and it even shows her lying in lingerie next to the animal.
Isla Fisher for ING – ‘sexist and lazy’
Fisher is one of Australia’s current crop of Hollywood stars but these ads are much more school-theatre production than they are Tinsel Town.
“The Isla Fisher ING ads are the worst thing I’ve seen on TV. Sexist and lazy. Not sure why ‘hot but moronic actress’ seemed like a good idea,” @mardybridges wrote on Twitter.
Another user @kerry_lambert asked: “Is the Isla Fisher ING ad the worst bit of acting ever?”
For someone who is married to Borat, aka Sacha Baron Cohen, we expected a lot better.