The worst technology adverts of 2013

From Robin Thicke and banned Bruce Willis to the BT flatmates, it's the worst technology adverts of 2013!

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films, TV, Movies, Television, Technology
Richard Trenholm
3 min read

Ah, adverts: those precious 30 seconds you'll never get back. As we look back over the past twelve months, there's been plenty of technology to get excited about. Every advert is an opportunity to show these exciting new gadgets in action -- or to completely miss the point, talk down to the audience, and leave us scratching our heads wondering what we just saw.

So without further ado, here, for your viewing displeasure, are the worst technology adverts of 2013.


It was another year of fights in advertland, with even other ads suggesting that perhaps we've all 'ad a few and they're not worth it. After taking a poke at the "sheep" who buy Apple, Samsung decided to take on BlackBerry -- talk about kicking someone when they're down -- with this series of ads highlighting Samsing's SAFE business software. What I like about this advert is the way it doesn't seem sure who it's taking the mick out of. App developers? People who buy Samsung phones? That guy who used to be in 30 Rock?

Not-so-super bowl

Some adverts aren't that bad in and of themselves, but if the goal of an ad is to sell more products then this year has seen its share of ads that bombed. This Blackberry BlackBerry Z10 ad shown during the Super Bowl -- 30 seconds that costs $4m, by the way -- actually has a fun, if bizarre, premise, but couldn't save BlackBerry from a truly disastrous year.

Facebook doesn't fly

Speaking of disasters, a cast of drag queens, spoilt kids and marauding cats gathers on a plane for this Facebook Home ad. Sadly, Facebook Home was so poorly received, it never got off the ground.

Iron Man can

Speaking of disastrous years: tuck in your tailpipes, because "subversive thinking" has arrived. Following a Funny or Die-produced James van der Beek-starring Bachelorette spoof so bad it's been purged from YouTube, HTC recruited Robert Downey Jr for a series of ads rebranding the company name. Suggestions include "humongous tinfoil catamaran", or "hold this cat." Sadly, despite the quality of the HTC One, HTC could stand for "hard times coming."

BT's bad ad

Not all ads are bad. Some just flat out lie, like the BT ad that blamed mobile phones and radios for disrupting your Wi-Fi. As if that wasn't bad enough, BT put us through another year of the BT flatmates...

Brucey bonus

Some ads are both long on cringeworthiness and short on truthiness. Such is the case with the Sky broadband ad starring Bruce Willis in his bathrobe, storming into his Internet service provider's office to complain about his slow connection. The Advertising Standards Authority banned Bruce's broadband imbroglio over Sky's price claims.

Hey pretty lady

Brnging things bang up to date, here's a guide to stalking wooing a lady by banging on about your watch. This Samsung Galaxy Gear ad finally finds a use for Samsung's much-maligned smartwatch.


This Nokia Lumia 925 advert reckons iPhone users end up with bleached-out pictures. Not sure what the explanation is for that chap's haircut though.

The plot Thicke-ns

In a prime example of Samsung ham-fistedness, the Korean company recruits pop star smoothy Robin Thicke to advertise the Galaxy Note 3. Notorious for feeling up a fan in front of the cameras despite being married -- and for recording the year's most sexist party anthem -- what does he use his Note for? Handing out his number to anything in a skirt. What a charmer.

And as a final bonus, just to cheer you up a bit, here's an ad for a technology we can get behind: cider.

In the mood for more terrible tech ads? Here's some all-time classics, inlcuding the masters of the art form: Microsoft...

What's the worst -- and the best advert -- you've seen this year? Tell us in the comments or on our Facebook page -- and we'll be right back after these messages.