The (Delayed) Worst Ads Of 2020

Mark Duffy
3 min readFeb 16, 2021

(I was about to start this post last month when my best friend of 40 years was killed by COVID-19. It then went from the back burner to behind the stove, where it was partially eaten by large rats.)

Here’re are five of the worst ads from a shit-awful year.

KFC (Australia)

Tits. What can’t they sell? Right, Nando’s?

KFC’s response: “We apologise if anyone was offended by our latest commercial. Our intention was not to stereotype women and young boys in a negative light.”

The horny young boy still (barely) alive in me was not offended. But it’s laughably impossible to believe that KFC’s “intention” was not to stereotype, sexualize, and exploit women to sell their shitty chicken.

Gucci (USA)

“Of Course A Horse”. Why? Shut The Fuck Up, that’s why, civilian. YOU don’t UNDERSTAND fashion; these are human-horse “paradoxical scenarios” (LOL, from the press release). The song is “Everybody’s Talkin’” (kind of the theme song of the movie “Midnight Cowboy”, which was not a Western) by Harry Nilsson. Was Nilsson especially fond of horses? Unknown.

This horsey doesn’t look particularly happy to be a pillow.

Shell (USA)

In a massively impressive undertaking for International Women’s Day, Shell changed the branding and signage at all of their 20,000+ American service stations to She’ll, short for SHE WILL. Kidding. They did it at one (1) station in San Dimas, CA. That’s what you’re worth, females, to one of the leading international planet destroyers: one awful pun at one station. The blowback was so fast and furious that Shell stopped the effort right after it started. Here’s the hollow video from the campaign. Agency: Wunderman Thompson.

Coca-Cola (Malaysia)

In April, Coke (in Malaysia) released this “love” letter video “To The Human Race”. It is two minutes of cringy hooey. There were a shit-ton of disingenuous pandemic piggyback ads in 2020. This was one of the worst. Agency: Dentsu.

Obituaries. The only honest part of the spot.

Colgate (Thailand)

“What is greatness?” The 180º opposite of this ad.

Lastly, according to Colgate, toothpaste is made for, not “brushing teeth”, but “For Greatness”. And “It’s what’s inside that makes you great”. So eat one tube of Colgate every fucking day. This is is one of the most disconnected product sells I’ve ever seen. Agency: Red Fuse.

I’m surprised there were only two teeth shots in the spot. “Grit your teeth a lot while you’re climbing. Let’s see your grit…GRITTIER.”



Mark Duffy

Copywriter/Copyranter. My hockey wrist shot is better than yours.