You may only be a few days into your advent calendar, but television is already pretty much running at full Christmas capacity, bringing back traditionally festive programmes like a dancing programme where half the participants can’t dance and live celebrity torture all the way from the jungle, and ladelling on the festive misery with appalling adverts where each company battles to make the audience cry the most and then share their misery over Facebook, albeit in an astoundingly happy manner.
Winning at the moment is John Lewis’ desperately emotional two-minute epic where a hare, not content with spending Christmas with all its other friends, insists on disturbing a bear’s hibernation which will more than likely result in the bear’s death shortly after due to the lack of food after the Christmas dinner sandwiches run out. As long as you’re happy though hare, as long as you get your one day of happiness you selfish fool. It seems as though the hare’s heartless need for attention has been a massive hit with the weeping masses so far though, outstripping Boots’ present giving chav and Debenhams’ highly unrealistic depiction of fembots doing Christmassy stuff like ice skating or wandering around the house in lingerie in the pass-me-the-tissues-while-I-tweet-my-sadness stakes.
But if the snippets of festivity aren’t enough to forcibly stuff you full of Christmas cheer like an unsuspecting turkey, then stop over at Channel 5 for their daily regurgitation of straight-to-TV Christmas films. 5 were unable to contain their seasonal cheer and like an excitable cracker, ejaculated their underwhelming offerings on the 29th November. There are some truly great Christmas films though aren’t there? The Muppet Christmas Carol, Home Alone, Elf; who wouldn’t want to watch these quality heart-warming films, whiling away the miserable winter afternoons with family friendly humour? In fact, I could happily watch Elf everyday all year round and still chuckle when he gets hit by the taxi. The problem is; these films are not Elf, they’re not even Jingle All the Way. Instead we get such instantly forgettable titles such as I’ll Be Home For Christmas starring the one that was the mischievous middle child from Home Improvement and young Simba from The Lion King, Christmas Returns To Canaan featuring Miley’s denim clad dad, and It’s Christmas, Carol, which has an almost clever title, and that’s it.
But everybody loves a Christmas movie, I hear you cry. It’s true, everyone does, but these aren’t Christmas movies; these are interchangeable stories of nothingness where the overriding theme is blandness and practically all of the films follow the same well-worn plot of non-believer falls in love with newly created relation of Santa and believes again which gets about as tired as I do after eating my own body weight in pigs-in-blankets and selection box chocolate. All of the offending titles are described as family films meaning that adults and children alike can get together and bond over a shared hatred of the unimaginative, middle of the road sagas that hijack their screen at painful daily intervals. At least there is one positive then, other than the heart-warming life lessons of course.
We can only hope that they are saving the big guns until later on in the month and soon our memories of nondescript blandness will be wiped from our minds by the capers of John McClane and a German Alan Rickman, or a Santa killing Tim Allen and a whole host of films from an altogether higher class of Christmas flick. The trouble is, by the time the superior films come around our fondness for festivity is all but dried up, what with the sensory assault from all aspects of life since the first leaves began to fall from the trees. For now all we can do is hope that the power of nostalgia and festive cheer can take us through this flurry of awfulness and deliver us to the last few days of December before January pessimism takes hold so we can all enjoy real, cinema-gracing Christmas films. If only Channel 5 hadn’t been listening to “I wish it could be Christmas everyday” when planning their December lineup.
It’s been a while since I dived into the murky depths of terrible adverts but recently there has been one offending the nation for the past couple of weeks that is so awful, so painfully irritating, that it had to be publicly shamed in the hope that those in advertising will hear the public outcry and realise the error of their ways.
The advert of course is the McCain five-minute jacket potato advert and to avoid any long-winded tangential rambling, the heinous concept of a five minute spud will not be addressed. Instead we’ll focus on the miserable excuse for an advert that was chosen to try and force the microtato (proud of that one) on the poor, unwitting public.
For some unknown reason, the powers that be decided to use the ‘primary school rhyming’ method to sell their product: A method so terrible and overused that it has already been featured on The Pop Cult Assault for its crimes against the audience, but continues to be adopted by advertising companies on an almost daily basis. Undeterred by this, McCain plough on and present to us another dollop of dumbed down poetry, complete with pretty colours and little anthropomorphic animal characters to create that loving, homely feel. Not content with this most basic of rhyming schemes, McCain lower the standard yet again like a poorly educated game of language limbo and do away with sentences altogether, and leave us for a section of the advert with just a strange gathering of vaguely synonymous words. It’s as if the writers of this atrocity gave up and just copied out thesaurus passages to fill in the gaps.
In case you are unaware at just how bad this little verse is, or if your ears have done you a favour and simply refused to allow such drivel into your brain, here it is in writing:
Meet the jacket, say hello,
Take a seat and watch him go.
I thought you’d need an hour at least,
You fluffy, tasty, super feast.
But no, in just five minutes time,
Before I’d even found a rhyme,
For done or quick or brisk or wow,
Or yum yum yum or holy cow.
A tick had tocked and on the plate,
An hour’s worth of something great.
The oven-bakey, tasty jacket,
And out it comes of this nice packet.
It’s hard to know where to go next with this; do we acknowledge that we’re being asked to greet a cooked potato, or simply dive straight in to the almost football pundit-esque quality of jumbling up tenses like a grammatical tombola? How about that pre-existent words were deemed unsuitable for these sinful stanzas and that new lexis had to be invented in order to convey the true power of the writing. Nothing can evoke the same semantics as oven-bakey now, can it? I mean, why leave the coining of new phrases to Shakespeare or Joyce, what makes them so special?
To add insult to injury, as with previous McCain adverts, the bastardisation of poetry is set to ‘Oh Happy Day’, the anthemic gospel song which practically defines a section of Christianity, and now a backing track for an abomination in the field of literature and spoken word.
So there you have it; an advert once again adopting a terrible poetry style and failing, this time, in biblical proportions.
I’m back once again to tap into the rich vein that is terrible advertising, and this time it is the turn of the appalling rhyme scheme, as featured in every single advert ever! Well, nearly every advert.
I’m not sure how this trend came about, but I am sure about how much it ruins my life for that half a minute when another company jumps on the poetic bandwagon and churns out another piece of unimaginative crap. It seems though, that they have completely nailed their target audience; assuming the majority of British TV watchers are in fact 5-year-old American Dr. Seuss fans. Here’s a look at some of the culprits who have been throwing their rhyming dictionary at any sort of product to entice you, the moronic, infant-minded audience to buy it.
Christ! This set of adverts has remarkably snatched the title of ‘bane of my life’ away from the shouting Ladbrokes man, with its subtle use of repetition. You might not have noticed, but I’m guessing this bank really wants to push the idea that ‘you save’, dropping the fallacy no less than 14 times in under a minute. So much so in fact that the phrase becomes a meaningless, two-syllable noise. I’m not sure what it is about repetition, but the effects leave me in a similar emotional (and physical) state to Will Ferrell in Austin Powers, and what really tops off the horrendous nature of the advert is the truly erratic rhyming pattern which has all the regularity of Italian football betting.
I accredit these clowns (I picture a board room of Ronald McDonald’s) with starting this craze of alliterative atrocities with their advert entitled ‘McDonalds for everyone’. It features a completely fictional scene where people in suits and elderly people are actually INSIDE a McDonalds as opposed to just scowling at one and its contents. Strangely, in its glorified list of non-existent customer types, Ronald and Co fail to honour their main clientele of the unhealthy ones, the scally ones, and the too-hungover-for-real-food ones. Despite their attempt to encompass every age, race and social clique, McDonalds have managed to alienate all but the most brainless by it’s somewhat fairy tale approach to poetry, with its blatant disregard for actual rhyming words and consistency in syllable length and stylistic devices. Actually, ignore all of what I’ve just written, this is the least rhyming rhyming advert I’ve ever seen.
This advert is shit on three levels; first it tries to glamourise the appalling beds in their hotels, second it continues to employ Lenny Henry, winner of world’s least funny comedian (as chosen by me), to push bargain hotels on the public by saying “All you want is a bed mate, you might as well just sleep here”, and thirdly, they’ve manage to confuse poetry with googling synonyms for being tired. With these three things combined, having Lenny Henry in pyjamas asking me to come and stay on his shit bed, isn’t really tempting me to make a booking. What really tops it off for me though is calming and relaxed tone that Henry tries to adopt has more than a strong resemblance to some kind of Barry White sexual advance. Next time you see the advert, try hearing this song as the background music and watch how the semantics change as the ‘English Walrus of Love’ purrs at you from his rock hard bed.
Anyway, that’s my guide to disastrous forays into advertising poetry, complete with a shit load of videos keep you all going. I hope you can manage to dodge through the minefield of assonance, alliteration and rhyming couplets for just a little bit longer with this aid. Bonne chance, mon ami, bonne chance!
Ok, it’s been going on long enough now, for what seems like an eternity, Direct Line and their bulging advertising pay packet have been ruining our viewing pleasure in regular, thirty second bursts. To promote their product they have forced us to watch bad insurance sales, with “hilarious” results.
Tired of seeing Stephen Fry and Paul Merton buzz about the screen as CGI phones, Direct Line thought it was time for a change, maybe spend a bit of money and get some famous faces on screen instead of just inside a red phone with wheels. What followed was a barrage of agonising meetings between the ”comically” misunderstood salesman (you know, that one off Mock the Week) and a variety of Britain’s comedians who were willing to sacrifice the respect and reputation they once had for some sweet moolah.
Voiceover leviathan, Alexander Armstrong, has milked the Direct Line cash cow the most, with his horrendous, bomber jacket-clad character, which as well as being astoundingly shit, is also just a watered down, wider audience hybrid of characters from his sketch show. This moustachioed fool must either be the most worrisome old-fashioned RAF squaddie in the world or obsessed with constantly hunting out new car insurance deals at the expense of the viewing public. Or maybe he’s just lonely. He’s clearly the kind of man that would be found sat at the bar in the pub on his own, “nursing a sherry”, talking at any unfortunate passer-by who inadvertently came within close enough proximity to trigger the clichéd pub spiel. Every pub has one of these men, they wait, perched at the side of the bar, like a spider at the edge of their web, luring us stupid flies in with the bait of no queue. And then they pounce and trap you in their threads of belligerent, bigoted views as you will the beer out the pump, and nod and agree with all of the most intolerant assumptions just to get the hell out of there a few seconds quicker.
Anyway, as you might have guessed, when it comes to a character featuring in a series of adverts broadcast incessantly, Alexander Armstrong’s caricature of himself would not be my favoured option.
Next up for the exasperated Chris Addison to try and fathom is the dysfunctional couple, perfectly designed to send hatred coursing through my veins at the first sight of that barnet. Actually, as a side note, isn’t amazing how quickly your mind can translate the image in front of you, understand it as something you recognize and make you react accordingly? I reckon when this advert comes on, I can fill with rage AND change the channel in less than two seconds. Pretty good motor skills eh? Anyway getting back to the point, why would anyone decide to sell insurance through the use of a couple who hate each other but are too terrified to be apart? All this pairing does is demonstrate one of the most solemn aspects of human life; the fear of being alone. Would these people really prefer to be stuck in a loveless relationship, bickering over the most frivolous of issues? Yes sadly they would and what’s worse is that Direct Line will parade this farce of a marriage in front of us for comedic purposes.
So there it is, Direct Line continues to entice Britain’s comedians with money, and they ashamedly take it as they step up to the guillotine, all in the name of a little red phone. I personally like to think that the theme of awkwardness that runs through the adverts was not scripted, but was merely a by-product of the clash inside the actor’s heads of happiness from being paid a load of money, and their knowledge of their reputation being left in tatters from a few thirty second bursts, in a deplorable situation. Insurance sales and awkwardness, how could it not be funny?
Out of the hundreds that try, only a few adverts that go for the wacky approach ever work and they’re pretty much always for kids’ cereals. One that tried and got it all wrong, is Uncle Ben’s Express Rice.
First things first Ben, you make rice, plain old, bog standard rice, it will always be rice and no amount of wishing is going to change that. Rice goes with stuff, it’s an accompaniment, like a bass guitar, or a boring friend, nice to have around but you’re not going to want them on their own. This advertising strategy goes against the engrained (lol) role of rice in society. Uncle Ben’s tries to push it to the foreground and therefore must create a world of such wackiness as to support such an idea.
So we step into Ben’s world, a place where electrical appliances only respond to vocal peace talk and men wear shirts made from 70s wallpaper. This disaster-clad fool doesn’t understand, despite being informed by his lady friend, that he has to talk to the microwave. I mean, honestly, what kind of moron is this guy? You would have thought he have some experience of magic seeing as he clearly takes his fashion advice from Ron Weasley. Bloody Muggles. Of course he has to talk to the microwave. How else would he do his job and tell the audience that the rice isn’t full of additives and all that. Hardly shocking news really though Ben seeing as, well, you’re just rice.
The sceptical fashion black hole does as he’s told and is rewarded with the rice for him and his friends to enjoy (hopefully as an accompaniment), while said friends look at him like he’s an idiot. He tries to repair his faux pas with a quip “I’ll just go and speak to the dish washer” to which his lady friend replies, “Don’t be a fucking idiot, mudblood.” Well not exactly but she might have well of with that patronising laugh and eye-roll she offers instead.
So to summarise, you’ve just spent thirty seconds watching a man talk to a microwave to try and sell a product which is half the world’s staple food. Pointless isn’t the word.
Would You Say you’re a Dry Wiper?
Have you ever come to the conclusion that toilet roll just doesn’t cut it? That you’re arse just isn’t quite as clean as it could be? No? Nor has anyone else, apart from Dawn Porter that is, and her friends at Andrex. It is this wondering that has led to the invention of the Washlet.
I say invention, really it’s just a wet wipe in a different box, like the ones that you use on babies, except this one is for adults and more specifically those who do not feel competent in the most basic field of arse-wiping. Obviously Andrex needed a relatable face to put with this new product, so of course they went for Dawn Porter, who found fame by getting naked and lezzing off on BBC3 under the thin veil of journalism. To give the adverts more of an accessible and real life Porter introduces the product and her daily reports of how the product feels. We importantly learn that Dawn classes herself as a ‘dry wiper’ (just like you and me) but is willing to try new and exciting things. On Day 1 Dawn comments ‘I wouldn’t say it’s wet, it’s moist,’ which leaves you thinking maybe this terrifying new revelation isn’t quite as scary as I first thought, and also, does that mean she’s just been for a shit? By Day 3, Dawn states that she is ‘definitely feeling fresher’. This surely brings in to question her commitment to wiping, and for me casts a shadow over the Dawn Porter character and a certain malaise towards my new found knowledge of her toilet routine.
So impressed by these baby wipes, sorry, Washlets, Dawn feels the need to take to the street to accost the unsuspecting public and ask them to wipe their arse. Unsurprisingly, the public does not really fancy talking on camera to a person they’ve never met about dry-wiping, or if they’ve ever considered alternatives, but this does not deter Porter oh no, if anything it spurs her on to break down the social taboo of bum sanitation and convert the nation to wet cheeks. And somewhere, between Dawn Porter and Andrex’s struggling advertising department, the idea is sprung to make this a series of adverts, a full blown campaign, to free the cowed, repressed nation of Britain from their embarrassment and closed-mindedness. Porter threatens ‘Anytime I do anything with this campaign I’m going to put it on Facebook’ (imagine the pictures, gross) and then reveals her intentions. What follows is another five, yes five, adverts of Dawn surprising people in a variety of awkward situations, with the best by far being the one where she tries to get men on board. This one guy on a treadmill basically he admits that he needs a shit right then and there! Hopefully he’ll make it to the toilet (with his Washletsof course) on time and doesn’t Paula Radcliffe all over the place.
So does this campaign work? Of course not. Does it break down the stigma attached to discussion of bottom sanitation and various methods of approach. Of course it does. People are now liberated and are able to discuss both the terrible advert and terrible product that address exactly that.
Still, anything for a bit of extra freshness…
Top 5 Terrible adverts
Webuyanycar.com’s sense berating adverts have recently been voted the most annoying of last year by the British public, but let’s a have a quick look at what other beauties managed to induce anger, depression, or shudders of horror in just 30 seconds, over the last few months.
5. Compensation Adverts: Far too many to count separately, this plethora of free money campaigns almost takes up more daytime TV airspace than ‘Bargain Hunt’ in its various guises. The flagship company, ‘National Accident Helpline’ has by far the highest budget of the lot seeing as it features that dodgy guy who used to be in ‘Eastenders’, serious looking black guy, and stern, but still mildly (not threateningly) attractive woman. In their ad, they bombard viewers with possible accident locations while all the while determinedly walking at the camera. Alright, Mr. Eastenders, I’ll trip or fall anywhere, just stop trying to climb out of my TV!
4. BT: Now really, from a company this size you’ve got to expect better than a condensed soap opera whose story is dragged out for what seems like eternity. In the few minutes between watching programmes I’d rather not be encouraged to vote on grown up ‘My Family’ idiot and bad hair ladies’ next relationship twist, unless one of the options happens to be; they’re both horrifically injured and unable to have their awkward love life portrayed on TV anymore. What’s worse is that with the new year comes a spin off. We follow the son as he moves out into a flat with a girl (ooh possible awkward romance scenes!) and a stereotypical twatty loser who curses his superfast broadband for ruining his one chance to entice a lady on her own into his nerd lair. Damn you BT homehub!
3. Glade Air Freshener: Getting right to the issue of what every modern woman truly cares about, how her house smells when her friends visit. Not content with, making a house smell like Christmas or summer, or any other season or public holiday, Glade can also boast incredibly elegant or discreet design which will be able to fool any middle class coffee morning gathering into thinking that you’re displaying a work of art. My favourite of these is when badly dubbed voice woman A is showing off her stone collection to her gullible friends, who are astonished that this oddly shaped weird vase thing with Glade written on the front, isn’t a stone at all but an air freshener! Who’d have thought it? The gender stereotypes continue with the entrance of the husband in a different ad, who is baffled by this bamboozling contraption that emits its fug when he walks past to cover the horrible stench of men. I hate you Glade, you old fashioned belief wielding bastards!
2. Confused.com: There’s so much to hate about these adverts. Firstly; the use of a doctored version of ‘YMCA’, a terribly annoying song even in its original form. Secondly; the cheapness of the set of adverts. Is it too much to ask for a set of fresh voiceovers for the Scottish cartoon woman and just the same recycled ambiguous phrases placed in a different order? Thirdly; the horrendous use of background stereotypes. We have the extra-large black diva who is barely able to fit in the car AND the attractive, well groomed, obviously gay man clad in his tight t-shirt and jeans. I’m guessing one of the idea sessions went along the lines of, “We need to make it clear that we are a company for everybody, even ridiculous stereotypes!” And last of all, why does the main woman have to constantly pull something different each advert from the vast canyon between her legs? It started off small with a present, then a bouquet of flowers and ended up with a whole road with surrounding hills and scenery! Honestly, look at it again and that’s not definitely a skirt pocket she’s getting these things from!
1. Halifax: Of course the top spot had to be held by that horrendously annoying blonde woman and her stupid Vanilla Ice-ing mate. I’ve honestly never seen anyone so excited by repeatedly getting her mate to turn the radio up to play The Lightning Seeds and it angers me so much I struggle to even change the channel through sheer, convulsive rage. The newer adverts with that “choir” of “Halifax workers” singing “heartfelt” songs equally sap my will to live. I mean, how can a bank possibly believe that they can be all pally with the viewers and win back all the misplaced faith and trust that has been lost over the last few years by singing Katrina and the fucking Waves! It’s amazing that in 30 seconds, such an inconsequential amount of time in the great journey of life, so much anger and pain can be created by a bunch of morons in a room pretending to have a good time while working on a fictional radio show, and singing emotionless songs.
So there you have it, a pretty angry one from me today, but God damn it I hate adverts!
Got something to say about this list? Leave me a comment.