There comes a time in every thrusting new internet start-up's life when it has do ditch its desperate, cheap, attention-grabbing campaign and rebrand itself as warm, cosy, non-threatening and decidedly middle-class.
This means that its ads go from the television equivalent of someone slamming a can of tizer in your face before spraying its contents into your eyes, to a cup of unpleasantly milky and sugary tea – not as immediately annoying but guaranteed to have you feeling decidedly queasy after a time.
This brings me to Confused.com's new friendlyeasywelcoming adverts, which evince a definite effort to position the company as a non-threatening mainstream brand.
This means lots of normal-looking people talking about how friendlyeasywelcoming the new site is, as if anyone really looks at a website and bases their judgement on its quality by how 'friendly' it looks. The BBC has a long way to go by this standard.
"Oh, it's recording!" is how things kick off, with a young man with an emo haircut feigning surprise that his camcorder is working. This, apparently, is AmazingPhil. AmazingPhil has a successful Youtube channel where he talks about his life.
This means that there isn't really any attempt on the part of Confused.com to pretend that these are actual customers. Phil bookends the advert by the drawing a smiley face on his hand and making a 'ta-da' noise. He may not be a complete prick, but that's certainly the impression given by the advert.
Elsewhere in the ad a variety of target demographics repeat words discovered by a focus group to be important to people searching for car insurance comparison sites on the internet, hence friendlyeasywelcoming. The overall effect is like drowning in Horlicks. Tellingly Confused.com has disabled ratings on its Youtube video.
Unfortunately while Confused.com, GoCompare.com and MoneySupermarket.com have all gone for the same approach, ComparetheMarket.com has thrown a massive spanner into the works by creating a campaign that is both funny and memorable in their CompareTheMeerkat.com ads, blowing the others out of the water.
Confused.com has immediately responded with an unfunny new advert featuring a small blob of rubber called Confucius. It's a weak comeback when faced with Aleksandr the Meerkat, but it doesn't make me want to kill AmazingPhil.