6 Failed Rap Commercials From The '80s And '90s
Rap music has been at the head of pop culture for so long it’s hard to imagine there was a time in the 80’s and 90’s when advertisers had absolutely no idea how to use it without embarrassing themselves, their products, or the nation as a whole…
McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets
Finally, a commercial that answers the age-old question “How offensive can you make felt?” In fact, the above video seems less like a McDonald ad for Chicken McNuggets and more like a McDonald’s PSA against rap music, with Ronald repeatedly insulting both the song and “The Fat Boys”-like trio before doing a dance most people would recognize as a “hoedown.” Long accused of racism, of cluelessness, and of trying to put a fade on a hunk of chicken, the commercial also ends on a note of despair as the food sing in suicidal resignation “We like this rap/It really rocks/But we'd rather jump/In the barbecue sauce.”
Nothing gives a song real rap cred like the words “hip,” “nice,” and “yessiree.” (With the exception of “gosh,” “ouch,” and “mommy.”) Of course, the entire commercial is drowning in flop sweat as Atari desperately grasped for relevance by marrying late-70’s technology with someone’s idea of early-80’s rap, a combo platter that didn’t so much recall “The Message” as your mom singing along in the car to Kidz Bop. Looking back it now seems this marketing mistake could have helped hasten the Great Video Game Crash of 1983 with the same force of such abysmal Atari 2600 cartridges as “E.T.” “Pac-Man” and the very rare yet very real “Kool-Aid Man.”
Fruity Pebbles with Rappin’ Barney
Sporting an outfit that in Flintstone lingo would probably be called “Run-DMCretaceous” Barney launches into the “da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da-DA” rhythm that seems to define all commercials’ interpretation of rap music. Immediately Fred joins in, scratching a record courtesy of a pterodactyl that can’t believe he hasn’t eaten everyone in the house yet. Eventually Barney’s elaborate ruse to steal food he could easily purchase (unless he is perpetually unemployed in “Fruity Pebbles” commercials) falls apart as usual, but not before one doesn’t wish for a meteor, volcano, or ice age to end the prehistoric nightmare.
Believing all rap videos should start with a Joey Tribbiani look-alike, Pringles shows that it might have 99 problems but a sense of shame is sadly not one of them. This is immediately followed by a fashion sense so dated it can be traced back to an exact minute with clashing prints, headbands, and light blue jeans pulled up so high it’s remarkable the people aren’t screaming in agony. The end result is what appears to be the cast of a “Saved by the Bell: The Musical” community theater production breaking it down about potato chips on a children’s playground while the world watched in silent yet rapt horror.
Legend of Zelda
Not so much “nerdcore” as, well, sad (which this commercial would immediately rhyme with “rad”), the ad starts with two kids so excited about the new “Zelda” game that it seems the proper thing would be to have the camera look away. But then the “rap” begins and you realize it must all be captured on film if only to prevent future generations from making the same “wicky-wicky” mistake. In fact, the only thing this commercial/warning is missing is following the closing line “your parents help you hook it up” with the appearance of the father in backwards baseball cap, backwards jeans, a giant clock necklace, and a complete inability to stop the VCR from flashing “12:00,” much less have any idea how to hook up an NES without having an emotional breakdown.
Rappin’ Rockin’ Barbie
“Straight Outta Scarsdale!” Barbie is about to prove she’s “street” by actually stepping on pavement for the first time since her Dream Car broke down within walking distance from a dELiA*s. With a beat box that plays what sounds like the first three notes of the “In Living Color” theme song over and over through a Victrola, everybody’s favorite trendsetter/trendkiller dances on pointe to the beat in “happening” clothes that resemble a biker workout video. Of course, the real hell comes at the end of the ad when Ken makes his appearance in full Vanilla Sherbet regalia, swinging gold medallions that on closer inspection are either foil-wrapped chocolate or awards for school spirit.
Which one was your favorite? Let me know in the comments!