The five worst ads of the year: Apple, Nokia, Pizza Hut, Belvedere, McDonald’s

The Wall Street Journal’s ad team went to the trouble of naming its best and worst ads for 2012, but neglected to include videos or images for the horrible ones. We thought you’d appreciate seeing them – especially if you own the stocks.

1. Apple’s Genius Boy series. This one is tough to get in good quality, as following its poor reception Apple made every effort to scrub it from the internet. The company removed the whole series from their own Mac marketing page and from their YouTube page. But here’s a copy that got through:

WSJ’s take: “The ads fell short of Apple’s usual ability to entertain the audience. BlueFin Labs, a firm that tracks consumer comments on social media, said comments about the ads were 3.4 times more negative than positive. The ads were eventually pulled because they weren’t well-received and unlike other Apple ads oversold the company’s services, according to a person familiar with the matter. Apple declined to comment.”

2. Nokia’s sample video promo for its PureView on Lumina 920 smartphones. The actual camera – a much larger and more expensive one – is visible in this video:

As the WSJ explains: “The video wasn’t actually shot with a Lumia, but rather with a hand-held video camera and lighting rig. The company apologized for misleading marketing. ‘While there was no intention to mislead, the failure to add a disclaimer to the video was obviously a mistake,’ the company said at the time.”

3. Pizza Hut’s publicity stunt for the Obama/Romney debate. The company asked debate-goers to ask the candidates about their favorite toppings on pizza. The video skewer is from Colbert – starts around the 3:00 mark:

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4. Belvedere Vodka (owned by publicly traded LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA) actually placed this ad on its Facebook page and promoted it on its Twitter feed:

belvedere ad

WSJ’s take: “Many people complained the ad implied a rape scene. Charles Gibb, the president of Belvedere, apologized on Facebook: ‘I would like to personally apologize for the offensive post that recently appeared on our Facebook page. It should never have happened’ The company also said it would make a donation to an anti-sexual-violence organization.”

5. McDonald’s hashtag #fail. The company thought it would be nifty to launch a Twitter campaign where customers shared their great Mickey D experiences. They got a torrent of this instead:

WSJ reports: “The fast-food chain quickly pulled down the campaign. ‘It was a minor issue,’ said Rick Wion, McDonald’s director of social media. ‘Those weren’t customers but just critics who weren’t coming to our restaurant.'”