Badvertising: WTF, Ruffles?

by Randall Cleveland

I'm no stranger to critiquing advertising and its pathetic attempts to twist and contort you, the average consumer, into a tiny box to be ticked on a spreadsheet when someone asks if the correct demographic is sufficiently appealed to. But with so much time and money going into even run-of-the-mill, everyday commercials, it's bizarre that some can miss the mark so widely. But that's what Badvertising is for. This week, we try to figure out what the f*&% Ruffles is trying to tell us with this ad:

The ad:
Some shlubs invite a mousy woman to play poker with them. After consuming some mediocre potato chips, she suddenly becomes more stylish, aggressive, and dominant while sharking them in poker.

Sooooo, what is this telling us exactly? Do Ruffles' new "ultimate" ridges make you more aggressive? Is it the kind of chip only a scurrilous poker shark would consume? Are you more likely to be some kind of alpha-type lunkhead if you eat them? You're not sweetening the deal for me here, Ruffles.

I understand their conundrum: you can only show so many tight shots of potato chips cascading out of a bag and into a bowl in front of smiling faces before it gets old. Fine. Props to them for trying something new. But this, what is this? Who is the target here? What is the message, exactly, besides making me associate your product with douche bags?

Someone, somewhere, got paid for this. And they're probably continuing to justify their effort to the folks at Ruffles by saying something like, "Hey, people are talking about it! That's what matters!" No. No it's not. If your only goal is to get people talking about Ruffles, regardless of context, you'd be better served by having the president of the company take a dump in Times Square at rush hour while singing the Star Spangled Banner. THAT would get people talking about Ruffles, too. But Ruffles isn't doing that because there IS such a thing as bad press.

You know what kills it for me? I mean, the whole thing is kind of generically bad but innocuous, but once you hit that "Bazing" quote I honestly want to hurl something through my television. Before this ad I'd say my opinion on Ruffles was just on the positive side of indifference. Now I will actively attempt to never consume one of their products again, lest I risk someone somewhere assuming that I identified with this commercial in any way.

What's your take? Will this influence your Ruffles purchasing decisions either way? Let us know in the comments!