When I asked which adverts are currently getting on peoples tits, people told me about this Carling advert. It wasn’t just getting on their tits, they said, it was rubbing itself over whatever genitalia they might possess. And not in a good way. So I was compelled to seek it out.
I’m a beer drinker but I can drink lager. On a hot, sunny there is, perhaps, nothing better than a good pilsner. But there are good lagers and bad lagers. And Carling is one of the worst, even if it is made in Britain.
Yes, the brewery at Burton draws its water from a deep artesian well, probably the best water in the country for making beer. But if you’re going to turn that water into something as foul as Carling you might as well pump in whatever seeps from the pooling tanks at Sellafield. We make a lot of nuclear waste in this country too, but I’m not sure that’s something to be proud of.
The days of those cheery, cheeky and genuinely funny “I bet he drinks Carling Black Label’ adverts are long gone. And more’s the pity. I don’t know why adverts for lager don’t even attempt to funny anymore – they seem to have been replaced with a try-hard earnestness.
In this new “Made Local” Carling advert we get one of the ‘roll-call’ ads that tries to be all things to all, well, people. Maybe the fragmented market and a new generation of supermarket drinkers make that inevitable, but it’s certainly been to the detriment of advertising.
Lager has rarely been sold on flavour or desirability. More the associations with nights in the pub, friends, good times. And that makes sense because the vast majority of lager is total shite.
Let me try and describe how Carling tastes to me: gas – as in the actual stuff that comes out of your hob – mixed with sugar and injected with, well, more gas. And more sugar. It makes you feel bloated, it will give you a stinking hangover and God forbid you try to drink the stuff unless it’s chilled to the point where most of its chemical-works flavour has been mercifully nullified.
In mainland Europe, America and beyond most people drink two schooners of beer and call it a bender. Here we’re gluttons for punishment. It’s not a sesh until we’ve drunk ten pints of the stuff, fallen over, been sick and then fallen over in the sick. And that’s on a Wednesday.
And, dear Lord, the associations. It’s fair to say lager has never had a great image, stretching back to the 80s, when it was invented by Margaret Thatcher and Jeff Banks. Whether because of the rioting, racism or just plain, good, old-fashioned bank holiday loutishness, lager would probably be placed probably somewhere between the E4 programme Coach Trip and the abuse of nitrous oxide on a list of How High Is Your Opinion Of This?
It’s possible to identify correlations between very unlikely things. One enterprising chap, for example, has tracked the geography of Pret outlets to Brexit voters. And a couple of years back YouGov opened up its vast database for nerds like me to play about with – from which I made the discovery that you can track how right-wing you are according to which car you drive.
It may or may not come as a surprise to learn that Land Rover drivers are the most right-wing on the roads, so much so they think Jacob Rees-Mogg is a lentil-wearing pansy and most specify Union Jack underpants, Katie Hopkins talking books and portable gallows with their pointlessly big cars that never go offroad (for what it’s worth Fiats are the most left-wing cars).
Which brings me back to Carling. Were I to place Carling somewhere on the Brexit spectrum I’d expect to hear it phoning LBC to start ranting about a No Deal. I’d imagine it shouting “You’re a traitor!” at Anna Soubry, in a hi-viz jacket, while streaming live on Facebook.
Which makes this Carling advert a bit puzzling.
I applaud the multicultural vision of Britain offered in this Carling advert, the inclusivity and outward-looking attitude. The rainbow laces (and the inclusion of Black Country Fusion – an “LGBT inclusive” team) are interesting. Obvious enough to those who understand what they signify, but probably sufficiently oblique that anyone who might spit their teeth out at the idea of say, scissoring, might just think ‘what a lovely colourful pair of shoelaces’.
Fair play to Carling – but I doubt we’re going to see two men having a kiss and a cuddle while sipping their fizzy pint of piss. This is the reason you scarcely ever see two men having a drink alone in any beer and lager commercials over the last 30 or so years – people might think they’re gay.
And we have some women in Anfield boxing. Good for them. And more life in the small towns around the country. I suppose the idea of is to herald locally-made stuff and apparently there’s a series of short films about these communities. But without context this advert just seems like another Great Great Britain! box-ticking exercise, not far off one of those lager / betting / fast food adverts that comes out when the World Cup is on.
Brexit casts a pall over everything these days. When HSBC brought out an advert about Brits being outward-looking people said it was too Remain-y. So too a vomit-inducing spot for British Airways that seems to think there are actually people out there who like Paloma Faith.
Meanwhile, this Carling advert has drawn accusations that it’s a tad… Brexity. It’s not really, but I can see how people of either political inclination can see patterns here. That’s what the EU referendum has done – everything’s binary now: Good or bad; black or white; leave or remain.
Either way my country seems to have gone completely bonkers in the last ten years – so for me this Carling advert – and all the rest of the ‘brilliant Britain’ ads – ring a little hollow.
It’s enough to make one turn to drink. As long as it’s not Carling.