It’d be quite the accomplishment to be called the worst TV ad ever made, but I’m holding myself back from doing just that. The ad I’m talking about is the Ray Lewis Old Spice spot, which to my mind demonstrates an advertising agency gone amuck.

I have now watched it six times and I still don’t know what it’s supposed to accomplish. There’s some talk about reality and fantasy – related no doubt to fantasy football – and the Ravens, the football team Lewis plays for. But it’s such a jumbled mess, I can’t make any sense of how it is supposed to create preference and increase sales.

Screen-shot-2010-09-13-at-12.00.28-PMThe spot is, of course, a play off the successful Old Spice “I’m a Man” commercials, of which I have mixed feelings. It has become an Internet sensation, but I feel that it’s a short-term love affair. The reason is that, while Old Spice has seen a bump in sales, it doesn’t create long-term preference among its target audience. It’s not related to an Old Spice brand.

To me, the man in the “I’m a Man” spot, seems more attractive to women than who men want to be, and men are the target audience. Who wants to be like him? He seems arrogant and strangely otherworldly (which may be part of the initial appeal).

I can hear Old Spice saying that the ads have worked because they have raised awareness of the brand. But who isn’t aware of Old Spice? I’m sure it is an attempt to update the brand image of Old Spice, but I fear it will wear out its welcome as many other buzzed-about campaigns, such as “Where’s the Beef?” or GEICO’s cavemen spots, that in the end do nothing to build the brand. (It may surprise you to learn GEICO is not the market leader in insurance.)

In reality (pun intended), I don’t know if the Ray Lewis spot is the worst I’ve ever seen. I’m sure it’s not. It’s handsomely produced and we’ve all seen ads much worse and less creative. But, sadly, it might be more par for the course: Intended to create buzz, but not preference.