Badness for Badness Sake: Intentionally Bad Advertising

We’re all about being good for goodness sake, but sometimes it’s fun to be intentionally bad.

There’s bad and then there’s intentionally bad. Bad backfires—badly. Intentionally bad inspires (or at least makes us chuckle). Usually, there’s an endearing quality whenever something is intentionally bad, and often a level of genuineness or authenticity latent within intentionally bad things—traits we always tend to gravitate towards.

Take Jerry Seinfeld’s new Acura commercials. They’re bad. Terrible, actually. You would have never guessed Seinfeld wrote the ads, and even then, you might have scratched your head in confusion until you realize they’re meant to be bad. We’re a little split internally on how funny or effective these ads are, but we can’t deny there’s a little layer of genius buried here, as Seinfeld plans to air the ads during his online web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. This makes these intentionally bad ads all the more interesting, as they’re an example of intentionally bad advertising, but also an example of advertising that complements the nature and structure of Seinfeld’s web series (perhaps even heightening the comedy therein).

Intentionally bad advertising isn’t anything new. But it’s hard to get right. And it doesn’t always work. That’s okay—you’re not necessarily going to earn a living making intentionally bad ads (though Horrible logos owner “krs” has done just that for his intentionally bad logo designs). Even so, it might be just the thing you need to get out of rut, creatively.

Seems counterintuitive, but badness for badness sake is kind of fun and strangely invigorating from a creative standpoint. It’s a refreshing shift from the norm, where we’re constantly under pressure to amaze and awe an otherwise jaded and bored audience. Being bad on purpose can result in surprisingly good things. The next time you’re stuck creatively, try being intentionally bad. Your end result could actually just be terrible, but maybe not—it could be the creative spark you’re looking for.