It's very much in keeping with modern times that mortgages are advertised by a stray animal that is famous for living in a bin. If you think about it that's where lots of people mis-sold unaffordable mortgages pre-crash probably ended up. But I'm in two minds as to whether this Halifax Top Cat advert is intentionally riffing on that idea or not - and whether it's a good thing even if it is intentional.
Halifax has created a bit of a niche for itself over the last 15 years by deliberately undermining the idea of banks as being stuffy and officious. Going right the way back to Howard the dancing manager - via adverts that suggested all the Halifax staff were running radio stations - this is a brand that has been desperately signalling "I'm mad, me" like the office twat laughing at a Crazy Frog ringtone.
But is this Halifax Top Cat Advert really what we want from our banks? Isn't it quite a good idea if you're not perceived as a bunch of wankers in such a financially insecure world? Wouldn't it be better to suggest that Halifax are quite careful about who they lend significant fractions of a million pounds to?
Who knows. These days we seem happy to spunk money left, right and centre and listen to politicians tell us that we can have whatever we want as long as we let businesses dictate the way we live.
I have a bank account with Halifax, because they offered the largest cashback for transferring a bank account. And for no other reason. And the first time I tried to use it - to pay in two £50 notes - I had one of the most surreal experiences of my life. Here's how it went:
AdTurds: Hello, can I pay these £50 in to my account please?
Halifax: No, we can't do that.
AdTurds: Why not? Aren't they legal tender?
Halifax: Yes, but we're not allowed to bank them.
AdTurds: What am I supposed to do with them then?
Halifax: You have to take them to the Bank of England.
AdTurds: The Bank of England... in London?
AdTurds: The Bank of England on Threadneedle Street in London? I have to physically take them there to bank them?
AdTurds: No. There's no way that's true. You must be mistaken.
Halifax: No. You have to take them to the Bank of England.
Halifax: Let me check. There may be a branch in Warrington (checks computer). No, London's the only place you can take them.
AdTurds: Can I speak to someone else? I mean no offence, but you're clearly wrong. I mean, the internet. Telephones. No way do you physically have to transport bank notes to the capital city to be able to bank them.
Halifax: I'm sorry but that's how it is. I can write down the address for you if you want...
And at that point, realising I'd walked into a scary John Carpenter film, I slowly backed away from the counter, wondering if the shutters were going to come down and the Halifax staff would immediately attack me with knives and start feasting on my brains. I went to the bank I've always banked with, NatWest, and asked if I could pay in my fifty quids. Here's what happened:
AdTurds: Can I pay in these £50 notes please?
Not a blink, not an upwards glance, not a beat missed. No 'you have to go to a place 250 miles away at a cost far in excess of the value of these notes'. A simple yes. Perhaps we deserve the services we get. Perhaps if we choose to bank with someone on the basis that they give me a tenner more than someone else I deserve the kind of idiotic advice I got over that fifty quid.
This Halifax Top Cat Advert tells us everything we need to know about our glib, brainless and wilfully idiotic relationship with money. An easy-come-easy-go, on-tick, never-never lifestyle that is our reward for being total dicks with money for the last 30 years. It's a Tory government advert; a Noughties and Tweenies Britain advert; a thoroughly stupid advert that, for some reason, thinks a bad Phil Silvers impression that was originally a parody of an army-set 50s American sitcom is a good framing device for selling mortgages.
Then again, this is a bank that has repeatedly had its knuckles rapped for a variety of issues. Perhaps we really don't care about how badly our banks behave, as long as they package it all up in a stupid advert.
Maybe a mangy conniving cat that lives in a bin and his dimwitted apprentice really are the best mascots for Halifax. A bank apparently run by - and for - stupid people.
Watch: Halifax Top Cat Advert
I asked people how dirty they felt after watching the Andrex Clean Routine adverts.
Here's what they said:
• As dirty as Katie Hopkins secretly feels every time she utters some hateful words she only says for money.
• As dirty as Mark Oaten's briefcase.
• As dirty as Amanda Holden.
• As dirty as the money in Sepp Blatter's bank account.
• As dirty as John Travolta's [redacted].
• As dirty as every penny Kelvin MacKenzie has ever banked.
• As dirty as everyone involved with Andrex's advert feels.
In all seriousness - as far as one can be serious about this sort of gash, anyway - just how funny is the concept of wiping your arse? It's certainly not as funny as the people in these adverts make up.
And the gibberish responses uttered by these children - at the off-screen urging of the adults who probably wrote these lines - are not funny either.
Children are occasionally funny. But they are often not funny at all. Certainly not when forced to be cute for the jaded, listless amusement of adults in advert and television programmes.
I find something vaguely awful about press-ganging children into entertaining adults in this way: in music, in television and especially comedy.
It doesn't hurt that I am utterly immune to the mediated cuteness these media forms always take. To hear a child laughing might be a wondrous thing; for an advertiser to harness it in an effort to make us buy something is to sully its wondrousness, its innocence.
The affectedness of the Andrex Clean Routine adverts make me cringe, frankly, as it should any sane adult as far as I'm concerned.
Having tried to make us vote for what we do with our soiled toilet roll in the scrunch or fold campaign, asked us how wiping our arses makes us feel and forced minor celebrities (Dawn Porter and Arielle Free) to humiliate themselves for cash in an attempt to make us block up sewers, it seems we're now stuck with watching children come up with euphemisms for cleaning their rectums. The world's gone fucking mad.
How do the Andrex Clean Routine adverts make you feel?
Let me know how you feel about these adverts - and send a message to Andrex - below.