Review: Ad Liners
Publisher: Pressman
Year: 1989
Tagline: The hilarious game where you choose popular advertising slogans to go with outrageous pictures!

Ad Liners cover

how we met

Yeah, we met in a thrift shop. I generally pick up most games that I am unfamiliar with to determine our compatibility. I opened Ad Liners in the store and was struck by two things:

    • Why is that vacuum form insert so needlessly large? This game could fit in a ziplock bag but comes in a decent size box. WHY?
    • Photos, and lots of them.
four sample photographs
buy me, see me
    • And they all look 1989ish / amazing
four sample photographs
want me, be me

how it plays

Ad Liners is a downright party game. Think of it as Cards Against Humanity rules where one player, the judge, draws a photo card and the other players submit the funniest ad slogan from their hand to accompany the photo. The judge then chooses their favorite slogan and that player gets one point.

sample play with five players

The rules of Ad Liners are not this simple but should be. The official instructions are a more convoluted way of scoring what has become a familiar party game design. My suspicion is that they created these rules just to try and justify the huge vacuum form insert with all its little dips and things. The real difference in the original rules is that everyone votes; you identify yourself at the back of the slogan using a clip and your colored marker, the slogans are shuffled and placed on the ridiculous insert, and all players vote on their favorite slogan. This actually removes an interesting nuance from this type of party game, where you can choose to play to match the judge’s humor rather than your own.

how it went

We play Cards Against Humanity rules.

sample ad slogans
sample ad slogans

Ad Liners is outright risqué but in a very cheeky way. Everything is out of context. In their original context, most of the ad slogans probably ticked a lot of the right boxes: concise, attention-grabbing, memorable. But removed from this context many of the slogans are just bizarre. And then introduce a photo pairing that was never intended, and you, my friend, have a game. The game challenges you to be more aware of the advertising all around you, and ultimately of how ridiculous it can be (or become). And perhaps be more aware of different angles by which advertising is trying to appeal to you.

A dirty mind is almost a prerequisite for Ad Liners. It is difficult to choose benign ad slogans when the photo is a woman licking a man’s ear.

With 400 slogan cards and 75 photographs, the replay-ability in this game is pretty solid. I tend to make up the rules depending on the number of players to ensure we don’t run out of slogan cards (for example with four players, take seven slogan cards and play to ten points; with eight people, take five slogan cards and play to five points).

But seriously that insert is out of control.

board game insert
i mean…

play or pass

Big time play. You know by now whether you enjoy this type of game or not, but we always laugh throughout and it will always be welcome at the table. I feel very fortunate to have stumbled upon Ad Liners and added it to my collection. The game is not unheard of; if you are interested in it, as of this writing you can pick it up online for more than a thrift score but still a reasonable amount if you hunt a little. I have only ever seen it thrifting the one time, but keep your eyes peeled there too!

woman in shirt saying have a nice day
thanks for reading!