I just like this advert, although I do wonder how many people went out and bought a bag of these bitter, overpriced salad leaves afterwards.
Nature programmes frequently throw something at viewers to remind them that life is nasty, brutish and short. In amongst the parental penguins, fluffy ducklings and playful sea mammals there's a universe of terrors.
Parasites are the worst. The fungi that make ants' heads explode, the larvae that ear caterpillars and spiders from the inside out and the tapeworms that turn snails' heads in bulging, pulsing beacons to attracts birds and start the whole process off again.
Yes, the parasites are the worst. Sure there are things that will bite your head off or drain your blood, but that idea of parasitisation, infestation - to have something else living in or on your body, slowly consuming you - is as hideous as it gets.
Which is why I'm revolted by EDF Energy's new advert, which features a dog at an advanced stage of parasitisation by some amorphous blob with eyes. This particular parasite (it's called Zingy - just image that: "I'm afraid you have a Zingy living in your eyeball") sits on the back of a dog, where it can't be reached, free to drain the life force from its unfortunate host.
Cruel hooks dig into dog's skin and ensure that it can't be removed without taking a huge chunk of the canine's back with it. Meanwhile long ganglia reach into the mutt's brain stem, controlling its every move.
Eventually the EDF parasite grows so fat on the blood and nutrients that the dog is left a dry, lifeless husk. Squirming hideously it makes its way back home - to EDF Energy headquarters in London - there to be enveloped into the collective. No-one has lived to see it and tell the tale, but it's believed to resemble a giant farting brain with the face of John Selwyn-Gummer.
By a happy coincidence, EDF Energy was recently discovered to have incentivised its salespeople to sell the unwitting Great British public the most expensive energy tariffs possible.
EDF employees have told The Argus how, despite knowing the customers could be getting a better deal on other tariffs, they were told not to mention cheaper deals unless specifically asked for.
Pfft. Parasites eh?
I hate people who complain the licence fee. It's the best value anything you'll ever buy and one of the things of which we should be most proud. So STFU licence fee whingers, you're all idiots.
Gatbsy is a dog on an advert. He looks really big and smelly. His owners keep shouting at him to get off furniture and stuff. You can follow him on Twitter. He has 1,056 followers at the time of writing. He is a rare Italian Spinone who loves long walks. He lives in Birmingham. He is the perfect example of a rubbish use of social media in an advertising campaign. Have a look at what Gatsby has been getting up to using the widget below (hint: fuck all).
This advert for the HP Envy X2 is rubbish. It's got a rubbish name that I can never remember; I've used the product and it's not a patch on comparable stuff from Apple or Samsung and the advert is both forgettable and as wince-inducingly annoying as toothache.
Firstly, this 'you x, you x' trope has been rolled out in a few adverts now and it's as aggravating as a screaming baby at the opera positioned directly in front of your head. Delivered with all the rhythm of a tramp at a wedding dancing to Scott Joplin and the cadence of a garden centre it just fails completely. There's no structure, no rhyme, no beat, no swell. It just is. And the is is shit.
So, you can stay and go. That's pretty much the USP of this device - it has a removal keyboard. Whoop-de-doo! What else? Well, you can type with it. Neat, eh? And you can swipe and tap! If you're particularly tragic you can 'rock' with it - which is to say that you can replicate all the fun of a rock concert on a tiny monitor that you need to hold oh-so-very-close to your face. And then rock, as if you're actually there. Call me crazy, but that sounds about as much fun as flicking through a Mary Berry cookbook in lieu of an actual sex life.
This isn't hateful, it's not obnoxious, it's not advertising something morally awful (hello Wonga). It's just rubbish. You watch. You forget. You do something else. Bad, bad advert.
I've no great issue with Diet Coke ads, which have made a virtue of women damply watching male hardbodies carry out some hard, sweaty labour with their shirts off.
The arousal of these women is clearly conveyed using a number of none-too-subtle visual metaphors, which see wet lips parted and ring pulls fingered - and only just about stop short of seeing nipples hardening under blouses and hands heading downstairs for a surreptitious fiddle. The coda to all of these ads is quite obviously the gaggle of ladies running to the closest toilets for a furious bout of lavatorial frotting.
All of this is undercut by a bit of Etta James, the kind of rumpy-pump music that indicates that these women are Liberated and In Touch With Their Sexuality, but also that the ad is A Bit Of Fun. Which, arguably, it is. I don't really care much about them; for obvious reasons, as a straight man, I have very little interest in them.
It's an undoubted double standard, though. Just imagine a load of blokes leering over a woman who's going about her daily routine. And then they roll a can of soft drink towards her in the full knowledge that she'll sprayed with its contents in a manner not wholly unlike a cumshot. Look! It did! Hahahahaha! She's humiliated! Dumb slut!
Wait, no she's not! She's going to take off her t-shirt! Fuck! YOU CAN SEE HER TITS AND EVERYTHING! The men gulp down their carbonated vegetable extract in sexual hunger, their eyes telling terrible stories about their intentions. She's asking for it, the dirty little whore! Look at her pouting and posing - she's loving it!
There's something deeply ambivalent about the power dynamic here; the narrative of the ad suggests that the man turns the tables on the group of women, but the girls' delight at the their plan working and the glances of sexual desire from them make this rather troubling.
Do they intend for the gardener to become soaked in coke when he opens the can? In which case do they intend for him to remove his clothes? Or, as seems to be suggested, are they just happy that he coated in gooey gak? Either way it's not especially benign.
The obvious response to all this is that there's plenty of objectification of women in the media and, indeed, there is. But not in advertising. Generally the only sexism you'll see in adverts these days is directed at men, who are frequently portrayed as stupid, ugly and emasculated. While women got a bad rap in advertising - absurdly so - until the 90s, this is a trend that has all but died out.
No doubt this ad is being forwarded to email addresses all over the country and gawped at by ladies enjoying the sort of washboard not seen since The Waltons was last on television. Fair enough, but transpose the genders of all involved and it's slightly grubby and a bit sad.
Meanwhile I'm left to ponder why the protagonists in cola adverts are all boorish twats - lest I mention the Pepsi Max dicks. The Diet Coke witches seem fairly interested in dicks, perhaps they're made for each other.
Call me caffeine-crazed, but I've never seen a chain coffee-shop functionary - let's be honest they only call them baristas to make the minimum wage more appealing - hand over a coffee with anything more than a hassled, dead-eyed, resigned, is-this-it? shrug.
And I don't blame them. Passion is one of those words that has lost all currency these days. People are passionate about bread, about cooking, about chart-style pap music and now (apparently) coffee.
Do we have to be passionate about everything? Must we pretend that we really give a stuff about our shit jobs? Need we lie in job interviews to pretend that it's really important to us that logistics orders are completed on time? It is, because idiot CEOs, HR personnel and feckless middle managers have decided that badly-paid front-line staff have to be as chuffed to be in their shit jobs as the CEOs, HR personnel and feckless middle managers with their comfortable jobs, nice houses and Lexus CT200h.
I don't care if people swiping my tinned goods at a check-out are passionate; the call-centre functionary adopts a rictus smile of insincere politeness or the barista has a hard-on for Java Roast Gourmet Colombian Ground Coffee.
Here in Liverpool there's a coffee shop I sometimes go to. It's called Bold Street Coffee and I know the man who runs it a little bit. He's passionate about coffee, perhaps too much. And he's built a business on being passionate about coffee. His staff are passionate about coffee, there's local art on the walls, he knows all of his suppliers and does tastings to educate people about coffee. I can tell that he was irritated when I told him that I drink coffee with sugar and milk. That is a man who loves coffee.
But Costa COffee? Can you realistically, reasonably expect people to care about a job that pays badly, offers few prospects and doesn't afford them any meaningful working rights (I'm not just having a pop at Costa here, virtually all service industry jobs are similarly terrible). How are you meant to be passionate about coffee when you serve 200 cups of the damn stuff to uninterested Joes killing time with a cup of coffee that costs somewhere in the region of three quid?
I just want efficient service with a thankyou at the end of it. And if the likes of Costa and Starbucks can do something about the deep well of emptiness I feel whenever I enter one of their branded waiting rooms that would be nice too.
But this advert? Fuck off and stop lying to our faces, Costa.
You know what was good about these PaddyPower adverts (that's the last time I've ever write that phrase)? The celebrities. They're unlikely; they've been out of the public eye for quite a while and they've somewhat gone to seed.
You know what else is good? They play up how strange - how disturbing, even - the unexpected appearances of Bruce Grobbelaar, Carlton Palmer and Des Walker are. They communicate odd messages about gambling, but there's another aspect to it as well; something unsettling about it all. They hapless punters on the receiving end of this unwanted attention look freaked out; frightened even.
You know what's good about these Santander adverts featuring Jenson Button, Jessica Ennis and Rory McIlroy popping up in unlikely situations to communicate odd messages about banking? None of the things I mentioned above. All of the same ingredients; none of the wit.
Here's how this could have been better: McIlroy talks to the bloke while he's on the bog. Ennis reaches around and helps the guy tug himself off over a basin. Button comes out of the wardrobe while the couple are having a blazing row about his infertility. In fact, that last one would be epic.
Having said all that, they still wouldn't be as good as the PaddyPower ads.
EDIT: In fact, the guy who Button first annoys is the bloke in the bath with Carlton palmer isn't he? The fucking nerve!
The following post is probably not for the faint-hearted
So, it's come to this. A mainstream TV ad that wants to kick-start a dialogue about how we wipe our arses. I suppose we had a foretaste of this with Dawn Porter's asswipe odyssey but that was a drop in the, er, ocean compared to this.
There's so much to be said about this: about how absurd it is; about where this kind of thing can be taken to in terms of extremes (which bog paper you use to mop up your spent ejaculate, perhaps). Or why Rob Brydon agreed to take on a job that directly aligns him with fecaes in the minds of viewers. Seriously, go on, just imagine that: after five minutes of grunting and exhaling, Rob Brydon tearing of some Andrex toilet paper, reaching around to his hairy ginger ringpiece and smearing his poo around with it. Not a pleasant idea, eh? Well don't blame me - blame Andrex.
I have more: Why would anyone bother to join in with a witless social media campaign about how people clean their anus? What, exactly, are you going to do with that knowledge once you have it? And just imagine the poor functionaries that have to trawl through the social media replies as to how people interact with their own excrement. Normally I'd feel sorry for anyone in this situation but I kinda think it's fitting for the sort of people who ply their trade as the snake-oil bullshit merchants of social media marketing.
Fundamentally, this is a terrible advert - born of some dreadful, half-formed notion that social media has a part to play in encouraging people to discuss bog roll. People get interactive about stuff they like: media, food, gadgets. They do not like to get interactive about turds.
What can possibly go through the minds of people buying toilet paper? At the most practical level, something like: "Christ, I'm not paying that much on something I will literally flush down the toilet". Perhaps next, something along the lines of: "Were I to drag this paper across my arsehole, would it hurt?".
And that's it. Brands prosper here because they're present in your head, because of an association - and that's it. Not for any other reason. No meaningful brand loyalty, no appreciation of one over another because, let's face it, there's a glass ceiling to how pleasant wiping your arse gets (that is probably the last time you'll ever want to hear the words 'glass' and 'arsehole' in close proximity).
Does Andrex really think it's going to make any conquest sales here? To push into fresh, untapped new markets of bum-cleaners? To get the yoof onboard with Andrex-branded segments of perforated paper (aren't we supposed to be forgoing paper for digital - that'd be a Hell of an app)? Perhaps the lucrative Middle Eastern markets, where they wipe their arses on cacti, will benefit from this fearless new campaign?
Look, it's like this. People need to buy bog roll. They don't buy it because they really like it. And, more than likely, the same goes for shitting into a toilet. A function, like breathing, sweating or shedding skin. However, defecation and rectums are a genuine taboo in an age when we tend not to worry about such things. There's a reason people don't tend to draw attention to their bowel movements; why they don't leave the dinner table, a meeting, the lads in the pub or the marital bed with a cheery "Just going for a shite!".
Vaseline isn't advertised on the proviso that it's likely to be smeared on hemorrhoids or used to lube up an anus as a prelude to a bout of buttfucking. Condoms aren't explicitly mentioned in terms of being pulled over erect penises and inserted into damp orifices, there to create what amounts to a semen reservoir. Idiot mags like Nuts and Zoo don't draw attention to the fact that lads will spay their jizz across the plastic breasts of TOWIE sluts. Canesten doesn't really flag up the fact that's it's used to rub over smelly vaginas that are leaking something akin to a foodstuff frequently seen on Ryvita.
Because there's absolutely no need. Everyone understands what they're for - and understands that there is no necessity to make those uses explicit. I wouldn't feel comfortable buying Vaseline if it had "GREAT FOR BUMMING YOUR MISSUS" writ large on the side. Similarly I'd feel dubious about plumping for a bog roll that had "HE'LL BE WIPING HIS ARSE WITH THIS" in big brown letters emblazoned on the side. There's a very good reason, seemingly forgotten, why adverts for sanitary towels and tampons have used blue-coloured water to represent menstrual blood for donkeys' years, rather than a gungy red sludge - and why no explicit mentions of foo-foos are ever present. You won't ever see a disgusted Mother hastily wrapping up a nappy full of the yellowy slurry that young babies often excrete, retching as she rushes to the bin.
It's the equivalent of drawing attention, in a social environment, to someone who has just spent longer than usual at the toilet. Loudly commenting on someone's body odour or an attempt at surreptitious wind-breaking. Publicly revealing that someone owns a voluminous collection of exotic pornography. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with any of these things, but they're generally not things that people enjoy the attention of others being drawn to.
We strike a deal with the people who provide us with medicines, palliatives, cleaning materials, pornography, contraceptives, sex and other things we may be embarrassed about buying: don't ask - don't tell. It's our little secret. They agree to skirt around the fact that our bodies require us to do things that we may not want to discuss and, in return, we agree to keep buying their wares.
Andrex has blown this wide open. The ad itself is inept and excruciating to watch. But the whole concept behind it all is so misguided, so wrong that it beggars belief. Whoever is responsible for this disaster will be whispering to Andrex about 'engagement' and 'positioning' - being 'at the centre of a conversation'. They should be forced to spend the rest of their career in Andrex's stool sample division.
It's all, fittingly, a pile of shit. Some will laud this advert for breaking taboos and thinking the unthinkable - such things are routinely, unthinkingly, acclaimed in marketing circles. For some reason no-one at Andrex, or whoever produced this campaign, has pondered the fact that 'thinking the unthinkable' means, in this case, making people picture wiping a shitty arse with a piece of paper while they retch into their cornflakes.
Worst campaign ever.
Some rebuttals I expect I'll be forced to make:
Everyone's talking about it! No they're not
But it's got people talking about it - that means it's been a success! This is a bogus argument
It's just a bit of fun! It isn't fun.
This will result in more sales! I'm not sure that's true - we know that some campaigns damage brands and sales (but see below).
But Andrex has a really strong brand! Exactly, why risk it on this grubby campaign?
More people are buying Andrex bog rolls than last year! Two answers to this one:
• Spending millions of quid tends to do that
• How many packs of Andrex can you buy with £3m?
Andrex has increased email sign-ups, Twitter follower and Facebook fans as a result on the campaign! Perhaps, but the value of such sign-ups are nebulous, depend on genuine engagement and are likely hard to leverage on the basis of such artifice.
I expect there'll be more in the comments. Bring em on.
The twat in question is Mr Paul Kaye, an actor and comedian much liked in these parts for his cominc creations Dennis Pennis and Mike Strutter. He's also a good, if unconventional actor, who seems to spread his time between interesting, offbeat projects and a load of utter shite.
His role in the BetVictor adverts as Maurice - following the same kind of mind-drilling tactics as Confused.com, Go Compare and Ladbrokes to try and brand a product that's essentially the same as all the others in the sector - see him firmly in the latter category.