"Any outdoorsman will tell you the most frustrating part of hunting is when a deer simply FALLS DOWN when shot, and doesn't FLY BACKWARD into the forest. Those days are over. Anything hit by this baby better PACK A LUNCH, 'cause it is going for a ride!"
—Team Fortress 2, advertising the Scout's new weapon.
This Comedy Trope is a kissing cousin of both the Show Within a Show and the Commercial Switcheroo. Typically placed immediately at the end of a segment, it seems like the show you're watching has just cut to the mid-show commercial break. However, it quickly becomes evident (ideally in about the time it takes most folks to start getting out of their La-Z-Boy) that the commercial is actually a fake-out, for an absurd or grotesque product.
When done as part of a Sketch Comedy show, the product can be pretty much anything. When done as part of a more typical comedy, the mock product usually ties into the plot of the show in some fashion. In both cases, the commercial itself is a practical field guide to various Advertising Tropes, although this tends to be more pronounced in the case of a Sketch Comedy.
Compare/contrast with Show Within a Show, Commercial Switcheroo and Trailer Spoof. Real Trailer, Fake Movie is a subtrope.
For more parodic content, see what The Other Wiki has to say about parody commercials.
- Orangina has recently[when?] made a series of commercials that parody various commercial types - for instance, Orangina body deodorant.
Anime and Manga
- The Black Butler bonus episode has a parody commercial for Funtom Company dog food and a parody preview for "The Black Sushi Chef" (based off of a parody image in volume 5).
- Magikano and Seto no Hanayome (both directed by Seiji Kishi) parodies commercials reminiscent to the way it's done in Western Animation to get a joke across. Goes something like this: Have a problem? Then, have we the product just for you! See "Before" and "After"; This Product Will Change Your Life so well that you've just gotta have it! But Wait! There's More!: If you call now, you'll get a uselss Free Prize At the Bottom! And all of this for only 9980 yen! So, what are you waiting for? Operators Are Standing By! Call now! To order, please dial Ridiculously Long Number 0000-4155-XXXX-55XX-0000 today! Side Effects Include sneezing, coughing, vomiting, fainting, zit faces, heart attacks and turning into a green-skinned monster and may vary according to its user. Unreadable Disclaimers or Rattling Off Legals may apply.
- The "Weird Al" Yankovic movie UHF contains a number of these, including commercials for TV shows such as "Conan the Librarian" and movies such as "Gandhi II".
- CSA: Confederate States of America, a parody film depicting what it would be like if the South had won the war, had commercial breaks throughout the mock documentary that showed commercials that would have appealed to that country at the time, involving slavery more often than not. About half of them feature products with racist names and/or mascots that really existed... in the North... after the Civil War.
- The three films of the RoboCop series featured fake commercials breaking up the storyline, including one for an ultra powerful sunblock to exposit that the ozone layer had been destroyed in the film's reality, although the sunblock itself could be harmful to the health if overused.
- And don't forget this twisted variation: "New and improved Joker products! With a new secret ingredient: Smilex!"
- At one point, The Sixth Sense cuts to a fake cough syrup ad. The main character throws a shoe at the television to turn it off.
- Stay Tuned, about a couple Trapped in TV Land, naturally features several of these, such as one for the non-alcoholic children's drink "Yogi Beer" and "MaxHell" cassette tapes in a direct parody of Maxell's "Blown Away Guy" campaign.
- This infomercial for Steampunk rayguns from Weta Workshops.
- At one point in Freaked, a Show Within a Show breaks for an ad for Macheesmo, a canned cheese product that's marketed in an aggressively macho manner.
Live Action TV
- Both Mad TV and Saturday Night Live have employed this concept for years, advertising bogus products in order to make fun of various Advertising Tropes or make fun of a current event (such as the cold opening on the Jonah Hill episode from season 33 where disgraced governor Eliot Spitzer [Bill Hader] advertises a new law firm that deals with sexual court cases, such as injuries from faulty vibrators, U.S. customs seizing German porn, and slip and falls in gay bath houses). For SNL, "Happy Fun Ball" is probably the best-known; Mad TV, meanwhile, featured a plush toy called "Tickle Me Emo", an angsty, stereotypically emo version of Elmo from Sesame Street ("You don't understand what I'm going through!"). Other sketch shows, like Fridays, In Living Color, WB's Hype, and SCTV have done fake commercials, though it can be safe to say SNL and Mad TV have the most memorable parodies.
- "Hi, I'm Sam Waterson... Robots are everywhere..."
- Somethin's always cookin at the Cluckin' Chicken!
- The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer sketches were presented with a listing of fictional sponsors ("Brought to you by Dog Assassin. When you can't bear to put him to sleep, maybe it's time to call Dog Assassin!")
- Inverted by the rare spoof commercial to spawn a real product. A 1990 SNL spot pitched the "Chia Head," a sort of Chia Pet treatment to replace lost hair. Five years later, Joseph Enterprises, the novelty's maker, began selling actual Chia Heads modeled after various cartoon characters... and later a version in "tribute" to Barack Obama.
- When Gillette razors invented the dual blade razors, SNL spoofed them with their ad for triple bladed razors, because you'll buy anything! Twenty years later, real razors now offer five bladed models.
- "Get a Nike(y) Turkey, and PUMP IT!"
- The TBS show Tush, which was modeled loosely on SNL, routinely did a parody commercial or three per show.
- The episode of Roseanne that parodies fifties sitcoms also features parodies of fifties commercials.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus had memorable parody commercials for such products as Whizzo Butter (now with 10% more less, and completely indistinguishable from a dead crab) and American Defense or Crelm Toothpaste (with the miracle ingredient Fraudulin!).
- Jasper Carrott's BBC show Canned Carrott had a fake "End of Part One/Two" section and spoof ads. Being a BBC show, with no "real" paid advertisements, the director had free rein to cut up real commercials and splice spoof sections in (like Jasper borrowing a friend's new Renault and taking it rallying, with predicable consequences), without any conflict of interest.
- The Goodies would always have a couple of fake ads halfway through each episode, such as the ill-fated Heinz Meinz Beans boy.
- Buy new low suds Mold...or we send the boys 'round.
- Harvest Moon, the scent that lingers. Buy some, or we'll break your fingers.
- A housewife is cleaning up a dirty floor, when a lady comes in with "Fairy Puff" detergent. The lady instantly starts to smear detergent all over, making a far bigger mess than there was before. Frustrated, the housewife takes out a gun from the window, and shoots her. "If someone interrupts you when you're cleaning the house, use our guns!"
- A shot of a car and a voice-over saying "We put a gallon of economy petrol in this car. Let's see how far it goes." The camera followed the car driving around for a little bit, before it reached a banner saying 'TWENTY MILES'. The car was just about to drive through...and then crashed into the banner. "For strong paper, buy from us!"
- That last one was a parody of an actual petrol advert from the time, which showed a car breaking through paper banners every ten miles. Morecambe and Wise also spoofed this ad: in their version the car was shown traveling some outlandish distance in the tens of thousands of miles on a single gallon. When it finally stopped, presenter Ernie waxed lyrical about it, ignoring driver Eric's complaints that the engine of his car was completely worn out.
- The Weird Al Show did this in just about every episode, with ads like "Sport Shoe - you don't deserve to wear them", "Silly Choice Dinners" that had rubber bands as a side item, and an ad for a pizza company that never puts their pizzas in a box to save time.
- Stan Freberg did both parody commercials and real ones.
- Bill Nye the Science Guy has one every now and then. Pass the plankton, please!
- Subverted in the early ads for Energizer batteries. It would start out looking like a normal commercial, until about halfway through when the absurdity got a bit too much (such as "Chateau Marmoset" wine, or the award-winning film "Dance With Your Feet") ... and then get interrupted by the Energizer bunny, pounding on his little drum, he keeps going and going and going and going and ...
- The sitcom Better Off Ted: Each episode included a fake commercial for the fictitious Veridian Dynamics company, the workplace setting for the show.
- The 30 Rock episode "Gavin Volure" has one. Gavin Volure (Steven Martin) tries to justify creating a fake corporation by saying that the commercial never said what the company does. Indeed it's just a random assortment of footage and words.
Female narrator: Innovation. Tomorrow. America.
- iCarly: The Sack is a dead-on spoof on the many uses of the sleeved blanket Snuggies, but sans the sleeves. Hilarity Ensues.
- The Gruen Transfer's segment "The Pitch", in which two advertising agencies compete to "sell the unsellable", making commercials for things such as whale meat and holidays to Baghdad.
- Sometimes subverted, however, in that while most agencies approach The Pitch with a parody ad, not all do; some are actually pretty damn convincing. Twice now, a political party has approached the ABC to buy an ad originally aired on the pitch. (The Australian Democrats and The Greens.) Both times the ABC said no. In another example, an advert promoting mandatory euthanasia was so convincing that an actual Australian right-to-die organisation approached the agency to do a real ad on the issue; the next week, the panel discussed it and almost unanimously agreed that the 'parody' ad was more convincing than the real one.
- Funky Squad would have genuine ads from The Seventies mixed with the 'stars' promoting various fake products with a Values Dissonance twist, such as hair spray "with added hydro fluro carbons".
- The Amanda Show had at least one an episode.
- Done beautifully in the Trapped in TV Land episode from Supernatural. The typical cut to commercial occurs, and then opens up into a commercial for genital herpes. Starring Sam Winchester. The poor guy.
- One of the Chaser's favourites is the mock commercial. Often, they're shown next to each other, for a fake ad break. The network the show aired on doesn't have commercial breaks.
- House Hippo!!
- Newstopia always included a fake commercial in the middle of the real commercial break, as well as a fake preview of an upcoming show such as Inspektor Herring just before the second half.
- The Babylon 5 episode "And Now For a Word", done as a series of interviews and reports from a visiting journalist, features an ad from the Psi Corps, complete with Subliminal Seduction.
- The Colbert Report: Stephen made his own version of an anti gay marriage ad.
- That Mitchell and Webb Look, like many sketch shows, have done a couples of these. Notably cressps;
Webb: Once you cressp, you just can't splessp!
- KYTV, being a spoof on commercial satellite TV, featured a handful of parody commercials in every episode, as did its predecessor, Radio Active.
- The Rick Mercer Report always has one or two an episode, often riffing on current political or business situations.
- The first episode of Six Feet Under included some parody adverts for mortuary products.
- Mad Magazine frequently does the print version of this, satirizing magazine ads. Things got interesting in this respect once the magazine started carrying real ads...
- ... which is why longtime editor Bill Gaines wouldn't carry ads.
- GAMES magazine used to run a fake ad in every issue. It was listed in the table of contents with the tagline, "Which of the pitches is full of hitches?"
- Computer Games Magazine frequently runs ads for fictional game studio Schadenfreude Interactive. Because, honestly, who can resist Survival Horror karaoke, Mecha-assisted fishing, and racing against elder gods?
- The pornographic magazine Hustler would carry parody ads, usually to express Larry Flynt's opinions and beliefs.
- "Divers Ayres On Sundrie Notions" by PDQ Bach, a series of 18th-century style singing commercials.
- The music video for Foo Fighters' song "Big Me" gives us "Footos: the Fresh Fighter" as a parody of Menthos ads.
- Modern Man's song "Side Effects" starts out with a parody commercial for "Triadose", a treatment for "Hyper-umbilical Fibrosis" (too much belly button lint).
- A Prairie Home Companion does these regularly, for a range of products including Bee-Bop-A-Ree-Bop Rhubarb Pie and Powdermilk Biscuits.
- Though in this case it's Garrison Keillor's George Lucas Throwback to the old radio variety shows that had prominent sponsorships. To wit: the show's house band is even named after a fictitious brand of shoe.
Recorded and Stand Up Comedy
- Brazilian comedy group Casseta & Planeta are famous for this. First, they were parodying real commercials. When they started their TV show, they instead created fictional products sold by the "monopolist megaconglomerate" Organizações Tabajara. At a certain point, a rival company, Grupo Capivara, appeared. Since it was the same thing as the original, they were sold to a working-class man, "Seu Creysson" (parodying the fact that a Brazilian airline was sold by $1) and started selling products focused on poor people, such as a "palmtop" which consisted of writing on the person's hand.
- Tim Wilson's Hillbilly Homeboy album ends with a fake commercial advertising an album called "Love Songs for Losers".
- Given that they originated in radio, it's not surprising that The Firesign Theatre's albums are frequently structured like broadcast media, with interruptions for mock commercials. Most notable in this regard is Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers, which comes across as mostly eavesdropping on someone watching TV in a twisted alternate version of Earth. The story, such as it is, is punctuated by commercials for products like Ersatz Brothers Coffee and Bear Whiz Beer, and political ads for candidates whose ideology is... difficult to understand.
- Bells Are Ringing opens with an ad for Susanswerphone, the answering service the heroine works for. This ends with a Description Cut to the Susanswerphone offices, which are considerably less glamorous than the ad.
- The Grand Theft Auto series after the third game is rife with these spoof commercials. An example: an advertisement in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas from "Cluckin' Bell", a fictional Kentucky Fried Chicken look-alike, which stresses how unhygienic and gross these places are ("Cock-a-doodle-doo, this tastes like shit!"), as well as the inhumane manner in which the chickens are treated. The third game, meanwhile, features an advertisement about "Aeris Running Shoes", an obvious Nike look-alike, which stresses the alleged worker abuse in their factories in southern Asia (A young boy: "It's good! We get to play with knives! My friend sewed his hands together! Yesterday, I made a dollar!").
- GTA 2 also has parody ads on the radio: "You might be surprised to learn than 93% of investments are ethical, eco-friendly, and wide open to market collapse. A crash can strike without warning, wiping clean a lifetime of work and saving to destroy your future, and the future of your family. The people at Third World Bank have different ideas, capturing the earning potential of underdeveloped countries and spreading your money across a wide range of tobacco, defense, and pharmaceutical investments. Third World, keeping your money safe no matter the cost."
- The Saints Row series also featured parody radio commercials, including those for "Freckle Bitch's" fast food restaurants.
- The trivia computer game You Don't Know Jack played parody commercials at the end of each game. These were so popular that one of the games in the series even included an audio CD of some of the more memorable parodies.
- Streets of SimCity and Sim Copter both featured similar radio commercials for things such as bottled water ("some waters taste, well, watery"), car-mounted weapons, and other Sim games.
- Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines had radio commercials for, among other things, a restaurant called Frickin' Chicken ("That's some f***ing good chicken!") and a sitcom about a banker whose late wife comes back as an ATM. These were also advertised in billboards around town.
- Relatively obscure Mario Party-esque 3DO game Twisted! was done up like a game show and features (extremely short) fake commercials every few rounds. Some of the minigames have the same fake commercials appear on miniature TVs. Needless to say, most of the products being advertised are ridiculous beyond reason ("It's both a shoe polish and a toothpaste!")
- The Order of the Stick has one in the last panel of strip #711, which also pokes fun at the comic's own art style.
- Girl Genius features Spark Roast Coffee, with the slogan "Perfection in every cup", outdoing Nestle's "Coffee's perfect mate" that probably inspired it.
- Note that the advertised product has perfection in every cup. In that a good gulp makes people, indeed, clearly perceive perfection. With all senses. In everything. For hours non-stop.
- Wallpaper collection of El Goonish Shive includes "Shrink Soda" ads (note that the clothes are unaffected). In somehow related DES comics, Tori Vector once advertised one of Amanda's inventions (just don't show this to Randall Munroe).
- Cyanide & Happiness in its usual style parodies overblown commercials.
- Sinfest reproduces more shameless trends.
- mezzacotta has a set of fake ads. Such as: "Visit Finländ. Sömetimes is snöws.", "Tetrisk: the board game of strategic block conquest", etc.
- Devil Bear presents: Tupperscare!
- This is also a common device on the Homestar Runner toons.
- Senorial Day cuts between two different Parody Commercials, both focusing on the "holiday sales events" of car (?) dealerships.
- The Strong Bad Email candy product ends with a commercial for the candy bar SBlounchked!, sending up Mentos-style Bottled Cool pitches.
- A real commercial example: PayAttention.org puts out political ads with stereotypical images of waving flags, eagles, happy families, or whatever - only to reveal that the candidate being promoted is, say, a bag of leaves.
- In the Whateley Universe story "Tales of the MCO", the characters are sitting around watching said television show and MSTing it. It has parody commercials for upcoming movies. The Ivory-Merchant production of "Hulk 1809" and the Oliver Stone-directed "Foucault's Pendulum". And fake cereal ads.
- Banana-nana-Ninja!'s Feast Master story arc has Sudoku giving an infomercial-style riff about the Omni-Functional Kitchen Gadget on a colosseum big-screen.
- Ursula Vernon got a section in her gallery for this stuff. Behold "Red Wombat Tea Co.".
- The Powerthirst series of commercials, now Defictionalized.
- The Lucky Candy commercial Easter Egg at the end of Bowser's Kingdom episode 5.
- Tobuscus does a lot of parodies of various commercial and commercial themes, from coffee ("Eight O'Clock Coffee") to clothing ("You're Not a Bottle, Boot") to pistachios ("Trapped in a Pistachio Ad") to Axe body spray ("How To Get Women"). Many of these are sponsored by the companies themselves.
- Frilly Shirt includes a number of parody vintage commercials, particularly for the author's own Patented Leopard Oil.
- TechnicalVirgin.com was a No Budget parody of the teaching of "sexual abstinence" as a substitute for proper sex education in schools, in which then 28-year-old Melanie Martinez appeared as a school girl delivering advice like “One thing I’m not planning on is getting pregnant. That’s why I choose anal sex. I mean, sure it hurts a little, and I wind up walking funny for a day or two. But I think my future’s worth it.” The original was taken offline in 2004, when "Melanie" auditioned as host of The Good Night Show (2005) on PBS Kids Sprout.
- PBS Kids Sprout sacked Melanie Martinez in 2006, causing a huge viewer backlash against the main PBS network. Her career never fully recovered.
- South Park has done this at least three times:
- During the first Mr. Hankey Christmas Episode, a parody commercial appeared offering a Mr. Hankey toy which consisted of various Mr. Potato Head-like plug-ins that the kids could use to "dress up" a home-made Mr. Hankey. Of course, you get a home-made Mr. Hankey by fishing it out of the toilet.
- The episode "Cherokee Hair Tampons", which featured a couple of
Native AmericanMexican hucksters hawking "natural health products", had a commercial advertising "natural tampons" made from "real Cherokee hair".
- The episode "Towelie" featured a mock advert for South Park merchandise - the "Towelie" towel, featuring a button that can be pressed to hear the character's Catch Phrase "You wanna get high?" (Ironically, in a bit of Defictionalization, an actual Towelie towel was produced! -- it doesn't talk, though.)
- Very ironic, in this case: The showrunners created Towlie for the sole purpose of having a character so stupid that it couldn't be conceivably turned into mindless merchandise.
- Abusing Poe's Law for fun and profit.
- Very ironic, in this case: The showrunners created Towlie for the sole purpose of having a character so stupid that it couldn't be conceivably turned into mindless merchandise.
- The episode "Chinpokomon" featured two mock advertisements. The first was the "Wild Wacky Action Bike", a bicycle with both front and rear handlebars, advertised as "almost impossible to steer". The second product was the "Alabama Man", an action figure of a stereotypical redneck who spends his time drinking beer, bowling, chewing tobacco, and beating his wife ("When Wife asks him where he's been, just use the action button and Alabama Man busts her lip open!" 'Shut up, bitch!'"). After a focus group consisting of Cartman, Stan and Kyle dismiss both as "gay", the researcher says, "Oooh, dear. Well, let's keep trying. How about this?" Cut to real commercials.
- The episode "Free Hat", which was a criticism of movie remakes, featured an advertisement in the middle for a remake of the very first South Park episode, with "new and exciting digital effects".
- The Ren & Stimpy Show featured several mock-adverts, amongst other between-toon-bumpers, between toons. The most famous "product" advertised was Log, from Blammo - a solid chunk of wood which could be endlessly accessorised ("Action Log! Space Log! Anatomically Correct Log!") and was apparently great for a snack.
- And fits on your back.
- It's Log, Log, Log!
- Futurama likes to do this on occasion just before the show starts, and has "advertised," among other things, Glagnar's Human Rinds, Molten Boron, and Torgo's Executive Powder in this manner.
- Walrus Juice: Ride. The. Walrus!
- Thompson's Teeth: The only teeth strong enough... to eat other teeth with!
- CASH, CASH, CASH FOR YOUR BONES! NOT ENOUGH CASH? TOO MANY BONES? CALL CASH BONE! RIBS, SKULLS, SPINES, EVEN CERTAIN TINY EAR BONES! THE LEG BONE'S CONNECTED TO THE CASH BONE!
- According to the DVD commentaries, these are usually put in when an episode runs a few seconds short. However, Torgo's Executive Power was a major running gag throughout Bender's Big Score, unlike the other one-shot commercials.
- The sadly short-lived Sheep in The Big City would do this frequently, most often with the Oxymoron company. One memorable Oxymoron ad featured the typical Housewife asking the enthusiastic seller what he was doing in her kitchen, and threatening to call the police on him. Another fake ad parodied Olive Garden's "When you're here, you're family" slogan with a restaurant that treated customers as real family ("You never call, I haven't heard from you in weeks! Why would you do this to us?").
- "Do you have paper towel absorbent enough to pick up this acid?" "No" Well neither do I, but I do have this extra mint chewing gum"
- Histeria! ran plenty of commercial parodies, each one centering around a historical event (i.e. a record album called "The Greatest Hits of the 1860s") or person (i.e. Raggedy Lyndon Johnson and Squeeze Me Nixon).
- Animalympics featured some parody ads, most of which spoofed Olympic endorsement deals.
- Teen Titans: Our intrepid heroes have been sucked into television-land and must battle the biggest bads in television history. The battleground is a commercial for Zinthos, which may or may not be a corrupting, poisonous, blue gremlin.
- Big Bill Hell's (warning, link contains swears), a parody car commercial made at a Baltimore TV station in 1990, circulated on VHS tapes for years until YouTube gave it a new lease on life.
- "At Way North Foods you'll always find the highest prices on the things you need most – we guarantee it!"
- The parody (written by Chris Lihou of Calgary ad agency WAX Partnership, based on pricing reported by Iqaluit's Feeding My Family advocacy group, shot at Family Foods in Calgary with pro-bono actors, production by Joe Media, audio music and voiceover Six Degrees, and largely assembled in the same way as regular ads for regional supermarket chains) flips the usual script where an actor plays a grocer, walking through each aisle and shouting about lower prices for individual items... by boasting that the store is raising prices "way north". (Cost of transporting food to Canada's high Arctic, even with federal Nutrition North subsidies, is typically more than the items were originally worth.) All done completely dead-pan, with the high prices as a selling point, so that the final result looks like a polished, real commercial.