AdTurds – Adverts that are shit Bad adverts. Badverts


The Co-Op Tattoo Advert


I don't really know what else there is to say about this advert, the TV equivalent of a man taking your head between his hands, tears streaming down his face, and promising he'll never hurt you again. It's about as convincing and as unsettling.

Some context. The Co-Op Bank doesn't invest in dodgy companies; it was ethical before ethical was a thing. My grandparents got their food at the Co-Op, banked there, had their funerals with the Co-Op. In the north it was a way of paying into a union - banking and shopping with something you could trust. It evolved out of worker's unions and to this day retains an element of that spirit.

Recently, however, the Co-Op has had a problem. Struggling in the modern era when banks are essentially government-sanctioned slum landlords, the Co-Op - with its notions of fairness and equality - is hopelessly out of step with a prevailing ethos of killing the last goose that lays golden eggs, mechanically separating the meat, turning it into kebabs and feeding it to diabetic children.

Further to this, in relation to now-dislodged Chairman Paul Flowers, it turned out the bank had been run by a combination of Bad Lieutenant (the Harvey Keitel version) and Father Jack Hackett and was in utter disarray. So this advert is a great opportunity to restate the brand proposition, win back some hearts and minds and regain the initiative.

Exactly why, then, you'd employ a third-rate Bond villain to deliver a monologue so earnest it makes David Attenborough look like Dappy, in an indeterminate accent while receiving a tattoo reading Ethics and Values... Well, I don't know why you'd do any of those things.

The delivery is so intense it feels like it should pop up in a Mitchell and Webb sketch show; the mixed visual metaphors on show are so tortured and the message so utterly bizarre. Flowers had to leave when it was discovered that he had bought a load of Crystal Meth, amongst various other dubious behaviour. I can only assume that he dreamed this up while screaming at the moon, wearing only his underpants and a porkpie hat.

It's rare that an advert has such power, but it genuinely makes me fear for the future of the bank (now controlled by hedge funds anyway following a bailout) and the group as a whole. If someone can OK this, they're capable of anything. If you misunderstand your own brand of fundamentally can there be any hope?

This campaign cost five million quid and I honestly believe that I could have done a better job. If we didn't know the Co-Op was in trouble before this ad, we certainly do now.


RIP Lynda Bellingham

It always seem a tad crass to reduce the scope of a life down to an advert, but Lynda Bellingham was probably seen by virtually everyone in the British isles as the OXO Mum in a series of adverts from the gravy producers in the 80s and 90s.

We don't really get this homely nuclear family staple in advertising anymore – the Smash robots, the Tetley brewers, Gold Blend couple, Hofmeister bear and so on being other examples I remember fondly - apart from when Jonny Vegas and Monkey reappear from time to time, but televisions used to be full of them. It's worth remembering that in the 80s there were merely four TV channels, so you found yourself watching ITV even when you didn't want to.

There are pluses and negatives here - one of them being that advertisers knew they had a captive audience so didn't have to be quite so obnoxious in attracting your attention. So these adverts were allowed to breath and develop over the years, become a part of our families too as we scoffed our tea, swigged our brews and glazed over in the ad break between Corrie.

It's a testament to Bellingham that these adverts never got on our nerves, annoyed us; never became unwelcome in our homes. In fact, there's a curious sense of loss when something so familiar goes from the TV screens, so much do we associate them with happy, homely times in our real lives.

My money's on a return of the Oxo Mum to TV screens as a small tribute - and there might just be the odd tear spilt as well as whatever's in the gravy boat.


McVitie’s and Cadbury’s: The Owls Are Not What They Appear

If you look closely on the internet there's all manner of bullshit to navigate. Forget Jennifer Lawrence grimeporn and the Deep Web, the really filthy stuff is to be found on the drivel-purveying marketing and advertising websites.

For instance, were you aware that there's an 'afternoon snacking market'? Of course, you weren't, because there;s no such thing. It's a nonsense term invented to convince biscuit-vendors that they have to spend more money on advertising, by convincing us that there's such a thing as an afternoon snacking market. There's not – it's a total invention. But I bet you're thinking about what biscuits you typically eat on an afternoon.

What, for example, differentiates a morning biscuit from an afternoon biscuit? What does the midnight snacking market consist of? What would you say if someone offered you a night biscuit?

Anyway, such 'afternoon snacks' can be seen in the form of Cadbury's Lu and Ritz – something that I think consists of two different biscuits, though I'm not sure. Every time I hear them reference they're called Cadbury's Lu and Ritz. What is a Lu? And isn't a Ritz a cheese cracker? Is that what a Cadbury's Ritz is? And do you have to purchase it with a Lu or can it be bought separately. And doesn't Cadbury's Lu put you in mind of a chocolate lavatory?

So many questions. What the afternoon snacking market advert is aiming for is obviously the idea that eating one of these biscuits is akin to a five-minute hit of pure heroin-cocaine highball, only without the attendant self-loathing, heart attack and death in Hollywood motel.

Cadbury's suggests that you'll want to dance if you eat one of their Ritz and Lu (or maybe a Ritz or a Lu, I really can't tell) – they call their campaign Moments Of Joy; McVitie's wants you to think that you'll enjoy a narcotic-free Twin Peaks-style trip if you eat one of their BN biscuits. Their current campaign is called Sweeet.

Picture 5

You've probably seen their ads where two girls make funny faces at owls that are sitting on their heads. I don't recall ever finding simple visuals so aggravating. McVities has form with this – not long ago we saw a Bush Baby coming out of pack of Jaffa Cakes, a puppy emerging from some digestives and kittens making nurses all gooey.

I despise every single one of them. Mannered, try-hard, whatever you want to call them, it's the sort of thing that seems designed to stimulate a reaction - any reaction - to make it memorable. We see the advert; we see the product - we make an association. Perhaps the best at this was the You've Benn Tango'ed series of ads from the 90s that suggested that drinking some fizzy orange pp was a bit like being slapped around the face. There's another on at the moment that suggests chewing 5 Gum is like standing under a torrent of Vimto.

Picture 4

Only, these adverts don't do that for me. Eating a Jaffa Cake isn't like all the horror, delights and weirdnesses of a trip condensed into 30 seconds. It's something that tastes nice with tea. Can you imagine how insane life would be if it were how advertisers portrayed it? A day-glo, high-volume rollercoaster of inescapable emotion. Exhausting, numbing, incomprehensible.

Sometimes a biscuit is just a biscuit. And thank God.

• To give you an insight into the insanity of biscuit marketing, I've C+Ped some stuff from an ad blog I found, along with my genuinely-held responses to it, line-by line.

The campaign was created to celebrate everyday moments made that little bit better with a McVitie’s biscuit.

Fuck off.


Fuck off.

places a packet of BN biscuits on the sofa behind them and invites them to enjoy an afternoon tasty treat.

Picture 2

Fuck off.

The packet is opened and out pops a wide eyed baby owl creating unexpected excitement

Fuck off.

and happiness

Fuck off.

for a moment before crunching into the crispy sandwich biscuit,

Fuck off.

enjoying the cheeky wink

Picture 3

Fuck off.

of a McVitie’s.

....fuck off.

Sarah Heynen, Marketing Director of Sweet Biscuits at UBUK, commented: “The new BN ad continues to illustrate the emotion derived from the biscuit eating moment."

Fuck off.


A List of Iceland’s Brand Ambassadors

I offer the following roll call with no comment.

Kerry Katona

Weirdly it's hard to tell if Iceland thought Katona's car-crash life made her less or more suitable to front their adverts.

Coleen Nolan

Said this: "“I’ve really enjoyed the last three years and loved working with the cast and crew. But now feels like the right time to move on and seek new challenges."

Jason Donovan

'...naked from the waist down an nursing a stiffy..."

Stacy Solomon

The only other things I've ever seen Stacy Solomon in are IACGMOOH and the Andrex advert where people are asked whether they scrunch or fold when they wipe their arses.

Peter Andre

Literally the only time Peter Andre takes the bus home after doing his weekly shop at Iceland is when he has a gigantic nervous breakdown.

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