Halifax's message to customers and potential customers, at the moment, seems to be 'If you thought we were annoying before, you ain't seen nothing yet'.
I can't watch the Halifax adverts anymore, I simply turn over or leave the room completely. I'm virtually programmed to hate most adverts, but a lot of AdTurds readers seem to find a strange kind of equanimity when faced with drivel like this. Quite a few people actually like stuff like Go Compare, BMW Joy and Samsung Fucking Jet - the bloody idiots.
But no-one likes the new Halifax ads, the Google Analytics keywords prove it. Just about every keyword phrase is expressing total hatred for anyone involved in the ads. In fact, I've had to dispose of several comments because they're too alarming.
So, much as I did with the Duffy coke ad keywords, I've reproduced the search engine phrases for the new Halifax ads, they say it all really.
halifax adverts are shit
halifax adverts awful
bad halifax adverts
halifax shit adverts
halifax worst advert ever
halifax adverts crap
shit halifax ads
why are halifax adverts so bad?
why are halifax adverts so shit
ad turds halifax
annoying adverts halifax isa isa
annoying halifax advert
another crap halifax advert
appaling halifax adverts
awful halifax ad
awful halifax adverts
awful new halifax adverts
bad advert halifax
ban any halifax advert
bloody halifax adverts
crap halifax ad for isa
crap halifax advert
dancing in halifax advert
fucking awful halifax ads
fucking halifax advert
fucking halifax adverts
fucking shit halifax advert
fucking sick of halifax adverts
halifax ads annoying
halifax ads are awful
halifax ads are bad
halifax advert 2010 billboard
halifax advert awful
halifax advert hate mail
halifax advert is shit
halifax advert shit
halifax advert terrible
halifax adverts 2010 crap
halifax adverts are bad
halifax adverts horrible
halifax adverts shit
halifax adverts terrible
halifax adverts worst ever
halifax and barclays are the worst advertisements ever
halifax crap advert
halifax is shit
halifax isa advert weird
halifax isa isa baby shit
halifax make shit advert
halifax shit ad
halifax stop making bad adverts
halifax tv ads crap
halifax worst advert
hate halifax adverts
hate the new isa halifax adverts
how crap are the halifax ads on tv
how shit ar ethe new halifax adverts
i despise halifax adverts
i want to kill the people in the halifax advert
most hated advert halifax isa
new halifax ads are shit
new halifax ads how bad are they
hbos are shite
Lists are very popular these days, in exactly the same way that advert aren't, so it should come as no surprise that I found an article titled The 13 Most Annoying Advert Characters of all Time today on my trawl around teh interwebs.
Lists like this are designed to capture the fleeting attentions of WILFers and other browsers, whose attention spans are probably shorter than those of people watching Go Compare adverts, so they have to reel you in.
This list is a good result: easily understandable concept; lots of images; very short excerpts; nice clean layout; 10,000 other 'article you may be interested in' links at the bottom among a dozen other calls-to-action.
It works in pretty much the same way that adverts do, ironically enough. They don't want you to buy anything (probably) but a few extra hits, a click on the ads and some capture of your data in the shape of emails wouldn't go amiss.
Anyway, the list in question is all US-based, so means nothing to me, apart from sighting the Pillsbury Doughboy, who looks rather like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man to me.
This site think a guy called The Noid was the most annoying ad character. Not as annoying as Barry Scott mate.
• What other annoying ad characters are out there? Is Tony The Tiger a twat? Were the Monster Munch monsters a bunch of dicks? Is the Nesquik Rabbit a complete and total ****? Let us know.
You may have heard about something called palm oil recently. Palm oil is a first-generation biofuel -and-crop whose environmental impact per litre is roughly similar to about 50 atom bombs going off on the Galapagos islands.
The reason? It's pretty useful, and therefore in high demand from a number of sources, and therefore a very popular crop if you're a skint Indonesian farmer. Clear a few acres of virgin rainforest and you're away, selling your palm oil to people like Nestle, Unilever, Kraft, Colgate-Palmolive, L'Oreal and Cadbury - for use in chocolate, margarine and soap.
It's only just becoming obvious how devastating the uptake of palm oil, and several other crops used as food sources and biofuels, is. As a result palm oil has become a touchstone for growing biofuel and new-crop concern, with Orang Utans the poster boy for these movements, much in the same way that a drowning polar bear is used to raise awareness of climate change.
The result is this advert, featuring a bored office drone opening a Kit-Kat wrapper and chomping on a primate's digit. It's not subtle, and I'm in two minds about this sort of stuff.
On one hand it probably beats down the many layers of shielding and protection with which most people surround their brains, so as not to be exposed to the uncomfortable realities of their everyday lives.
On the other, it's easy for people to get inured to this sort of thing, and it turns people off from the message. It's depressing that people need to be 'turned on' to ecological catastrophes, but there you go.
Social media has picked up this ball and run with it, attacking Nestle's Facebook page. (As an aside, why does Nestle have a Facebook page? They've been one of the most hated brands going for as long as I can remember. What's next? A Facebook page for Chernobyl?)
Will it work? Well, maybe. Drag these companies into the spotlight and they tend to act with a little more vigour. There's some sort of palm oil round table that aims to take palm oil from certified sustainable sources. Greenpeace says nestle is dragging its feet.
On the flip side, maybe Nestle should just accept that it's always going to be the Child Catcher of multinationals and revel in it - like a corporate Millwall.
That bird in the logo could have a crossbow bolt through its eye; the Smarties slogan could be changed to 'Only Smarties have the answer, dumbass'; and five lucky Kit Kat eaters could win a trip to a palm oil plantation if they discover a dismembered Orang Utan finger in their mid-morning snack.
• See more here: http://vimeo.com/10236827
In a top 100 of strange statistical claims made by people trying to sell you stuff, Nivea's assertion that "77% of women feel sexier when their underarms look good" must rank fairly highly.
Apparently this was derived from interviews with 2,550 women. It appears to have been put in there by Nivea to make people feel insecure about their bodies and to thus sell more crappy deodorant. Cynically, we are even told that using the stuff is "great news for your love life".
I'm keen to consider the wider implications of Nivea's statistical exposition. Do the remaining 23% of women feel less sexy when their underarms look good? And is this analogous with feeling sexier when your underarms look bad? Also, is it too weird to show a man kissing a woman's armpit? Even if she proceeds to beat him senseless with a pillow while grinning maniacally?
If these questions strike you as absurd, you are probably best suited to a career outside advertising.
As TV directors, producers and composers became aware of the possibilities offered by electronic equipment in TV shows and adverts in the 70s, a brand of rather disturbing, ambient, electro surrealism found its way onto TV screens in the shape of Doctor Who, Space:1999, Blake's 7 and Survivors.
Chromakey, known as CSO, was an extremely popular technique in programmes like these, achieved by filming actors against a blue screen and filling in the background with a picture of space, an underground cavern or another gravel pit.
Synthesizers, sampling and sheer experimentalism - pioneered by the superb BBC Radiophonic Workshop - came to the fore, and led many composers to abandon musical sensibilities in favour of wibbly, farty, unsettling electronic burbling.
Thirdly, possibly inspired by the high-concept visuals and themes of 2001: A Space Odyssey and other ethereal sci-fi movies of the 70s, a kind of terrifying acid-trip surrealism found its way into traditional tea-time fare.
Fourthly was a preponderance for synthetic materials in the shape of terylene and bri-nylon, which would clearly be the materials of choice in the future. These would usually be presented in the shape of futuristic safari suits which, as we all know, have been incredibly popular since their introduction in 1974.
All of these elements are brought together in this advert for ICI, which is simply frightening and baffling in equal measure.
A doorway in a desert; a reflection of a man who isn't there; 'patterns like you've never seen'; doric columns; the hypnotic repetition of the phrases; the shrill wobble of the music and ethereal warbling.
A nightmare dimension of bizarre juxtapositions and polyester suits. All it's missing is a screaming Martin Landau.
The New Way to Dress... Crimplene for Men... If that was the future the 70s promised, it's no wonder everyone was so depressed.
Microsoft seems to have a unique knack for producing infuriatingly shit advertising. Hot on the heels of its recent "Windows 7 was my idea" campaign, which literally makes no sense whatsoever, comes a series of ads for its Bing search engine.
There is absolutely no point to Bing as far as I can make out. It's a search engine. That's basically it. Why anyone would switch from the perfectly good search engine they are already using is a mystery to everyone but Bill Gates.
Obviously Microsoft has realised ten years after Google that search is, y'know, quite an important bit of the internet and it wants to make some money out of it, so it has decided to throw some money at Bing. Its chosen advertising strategy is to illustrate the inherent confusingness of using a search engine to find stuff on the web, by having apparently mentally unstable people barking random nonsense. However, Google isn't really that confusing to use, is it? And, as far as my limited testing has ascertained, Bing is no better at delivering reliable results than any other search engine.
In the second ad, for example, a woman is seen mentioning "clutch bags", which sends her friend into a frenzy of exclamations about "centrifugal clutches", "Bagpuss" so on. But if you actually type "clutch bag" into Google, and then into Bing, you get very similar results around... erm, clutch bags.
The clutch bag ad is actually considerably less infuriating than the debut Bing ad, which also seems to depict someone having a seizure and culminates in a railway station full of people squawking like monkeys. Both ads have an annoying bit in the tagline where someone says "bing" in a stupid high-pitched voice. The whole thing appears to have been written for, and conceived by, idiots.
What has information overload done to us? Well, it's produced shit advertising like this for a start.
I'll happily admit to being fascinated by things that other people wouldn't think twice about. Subterranea, industrial architecture, TV incidental music and assorted ephemera.
Something I've always loved is vintage TV clips, and particularly idents. As any fool knows, the best ever produced were BBC2's 1990s idents. Funny, ambient, beautiful, clever and an instantly recognisable colour and sound palette.
I expect they worked well as branding exercise because they're what I most associate with BBC2 - the best channel of the five I had regular access to in the 90s.
This is strange, because BBC2 at the time was a hodge-podge of comedy, gardening, mainly duff sports, sci-fi, documentaries, news and old films.
How you create a brand identity out of that lot I don't know, but I suppose the brief was to create something irreverent, intelligent and recognisable different. In that, I have no doubt that it succeeded.
These particular idents are so ingrained on me as I had dozens of video tapes in that decade with taped shows on. Red Dwarf, Newman and Baddiel in Pieces, The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, This Life, Star Trek, repeats of Doctor Who - I probably still have them somewhere.
Little moments of old television like this are so powerful because they operate on an almost subliminal level of consciousness when you're watching them - they're not supposed to be especially noticeable.
When they disappear you don't really notice, but when you see them again the recall is powerful, and with it the nostalgia of the era: where you were; who you were with; what TV shows were on at the time.
It's the same with certain smells, certain objects. As each year passes I find this sort of instant recall tinged with melancholy, multiplying the powerful effect they have.
It's the same with these idents, but on top of that the 90's BBC2 idents are obviously utterly brilliant. There are certain others from 80s ITV brands that have a similar appeal to me, but these creations - by Martin Lambie-Nairn - are as good as they get.
A number of speciality idents appeared throughout the decade, never straying too far from an obvious brand ID, but all with enough wit and obvious skill to prevent the exercise simply becoming a smug in-joke.
This set of idents was retired in 2001 and while the current BBC2 idents aren't a bad set there'll never be another like the 90s. The replacements were a little more self-consciously wacky, I thought, and imbued the BBC2 logo with a personality. They lacked the simple charm of the originals, to my mind.
By comparison we've recently had Channel 4's baffling floating shapes, BBC1's swimming hippos and infamous Bloody Big Balloon. All pretty duff, by my reckoning.
Idents then. Daft, discardable, distracting. But I challenge you to watch these and not get a little bit wistful. Clever little snapshots of the past, a different world.
• My favourites were always Copper Cutout, Powder, Steam and Neons.
• Predictably, the wonderful TV Ark has a feature on the idents
• You can watch loads of BBC2 idents from the last 20 years on the BBC
You may have seen this advert complete with badly-dubbed voiceover. It's making a clever comparison between servicing your car and servicing your razor, you see.
This is a strange comparison to make, to my mind, because everyone associates garages with being ripped off with the same level of brutality as a blading from a Dickensian gangster.
So, rather than nodding and agreeing like a particularly dozy Churchill dog, the clean-cut guy with the blunted blades should be eyeing the balding chap with paranoid distrust, eyes flicking nervously over the invoice being prepared by the garage's sole female employee in a dingy lean-to office.
Soon every razor will have 20 diamond blades on it, and will be hand-made by Bentley. It's the only way the people who make razors blades can keep ramping up the price of small bits of metal that we don't even need.
I don't have much time for adverts that are trying to tell me that shaving is important, because it isn't. On my list of 'important things to do' shaving comes somewhere between 'darning socks' and 'writing name in inside cover of books I own'.
Yet we're assailed by the need to exfoliate at every turn, it's even become something of a social taboo. It's a wholly invented need, and it's a bloody expensive one at that.
Which is why these ads keep getting more and more insane, with big celebs and absurd visuals and silly names like Fusion and Phenom.
Except, this one clearly isn't that expensive. It looks and sounds pretty cheap, and it's a lousy concept.
So, where did all the big names go? Where are the golf balls turning into planets? The billion-dollar shit-eating grins of overpaid celebs? Where are our depilated masculine role models that Gillette blew millions on?
The daft claims and weird language used in the promotion of beauty products, like this one for something called Genefique Youth Activator by Lancome, is a source of considerable annoyance. Apparently this stuff's tested with "genes" and will work in direct opposition to the forces of nature thanks to its "youth activation" formula.
How this works isn't really explained. All you need to know is that it "activates youth" in some non-specified, possibly metaphorical or possibly literal way. A bit like how if you buy an Audi, it activates twat.
The advert also neglects to mention the retail price. If you do want to "activate youth", a 50ml pot of this stuff is available in Superdrug branches nationwide (maybe) for a mere seventy-five pounds. Bargain!