When sex doesn't sell: Slew of bad ads backfire in the blogosphere

File this under "stupid sex ads." While it's true that sex sells -- and has for more than a century -- a rash of recent ads from top marketers has proven there are exceptions to that rule.

Take this TV commercial from Hall's Refresh, a sugar-free candy"with advanced moisture lotion." The ad carries a theme that's popping up on a number of TV shows, from ABC's Cougar Town to Fox's Glee : older woman hitting on a younger man (remember the teenage Puck's pool-cleaning service in Glee?). In the Hall's ad, a harried looking mom, helping her son move into his new dorm, is kindly offered a Hall's Refresh by his roommate. What happens next verges into "what were they thinking?" territory. The teen- and the middle-aged mom gaze at each other, mouths wetly moving from side to side as they masticate. "I wonder if she likes it," the roommate thinks in a suggestive voice-over. Sure, it's debatable whether Cougar Town's depiction of that dynamic is pathetic or empowering, but the Hall's ad plays squarely to creepy.