I kinda like the new KFC ‘The Whole Chicken’ advert which features the dulcet tones of DMX. There I said it.
I’m not a fan of dissonance for the sake of dissonance generally and it’s become a shorthand for lazy campaigns – seen, more often than not, in adverts for the likes of price-comparison websites, betting companies and insurance outfits. If you want a good example look no further than the cast-iron bollocks of the Epic Skeletor advert or deleterious Halifax ads starring Everything You Liked From Your Childhood.
They can largely be boiled down to X + Y = advert, where X is a horrible company selling something boring and Y is an 80s meme. On that basis the KFC advert would seem to fit squarely within that bracket, but whereas most of these adverts look no further than one of those “Do You Remember The Last Decade But One?” programmes or an episode of Top of the Pops from 1985, this one goes all out to include one of rap’s most aggressive and in-your-face artists of the 90s, a man who once made an ex-girlfriend of mine screw up her face in horror at one of his lyrics while his music was playing in my car.
DMX doesn’t do a lot for me but I’ve always admired the straight-up aggression of X Gon’ Give It To Ya, a song – if it can be called a song – where the X issues three minutes of threats, boasts and general menace. This is not a track for the faint-hearted. Add it to some visuals of a dancing chicken and it’s sufficiently striking and odd that it can’t help be engaging. Simply, you have to admire the balls. Were the soundtrack to me some ironic use of an 80s hit, dayglo 90s pop or disco shite and it would be so lacking in imagination it would go straight into the shit pile.
Of course, raising the lulz is the basic currency of the internet these days. Attention – whether positive or blazingly negative – is something to be harvested, like the entrails of the hens strutting around wherever KFC buys its Live Meat Bits. Not they would be strutting, in all likelihood either, as KFC doesn’t source free-range chickens.
And call me an embittered, professionally-disgruntled website (many have) but there’s a whiff of 2016 about this. It’s a bit Trumpy in the way that the orange-faced twat has lent legitimacy to all manner of horrible behaviours and views. To me this advert says ‘go on, eat us – it’s OK, we’re virtually asking for it’. By making that connection explicit – that an animal died for you to stuff your face full of greasy chicken – it’s almost abnegating any guilt you might feel. They want to be eaten.
I’m ambivalent about this. On one hand I find that deeply disquieting – from the same mode of thinking in advertising that people deserve and should have whatever they want. It’s a mantra of deep selfishness and narcissism and I hate it.
On the other hand I have no sympathy for people who don’t want to be reminded of the cost of their various appetites, whether its sweatshops for clothes, animals for food or mass killings of brown people for Class A drugs. If you can’t handle the idea of cute animals dying so you can gorge yourself then stop eating meat you moron.
Not that there’s much honesty on show. If your mission is to show the unexpurgated truth of what makes KFC such a finger-lickin’ good experience then you should really show these hens limping around with one foot, featherless, pumped full of steroids and antibiotics and with an eye pecked out. I’m going out on a limb to suggest there’s no hip-hop soundtrack wherever hens live their short lives before fed into a grinder either. In keeping with what is probably a profoundly miserable existence it’s probably Catfish and the Fucking Bottlemen.
PETA are up in arms about it – claiming that it’s a lift from their own playbook, which makes the connection between living animal and dead animal. But PETA are a bunch of cunts so while I’m inclined to agree that this is deliberately flirting with – and subverting – their messages I’ve little sympathy. There’s a kid of evil genius in that.
So a brave, bold advert then. Kinda horrible, but it made me laugh. And in these heady times, isn’t that all that matters?
NB. Needless to say I won’t be venturing into KFC any time soon. I’m not a fucking idiot.
Aww, Christmas adverts. Snowmen and buying your loved on a woolly jumper and gorging yourself all the way to Type-II Diabetes. At a time when John Carpenter’s iconic 80s sci-fi/action film They Live! is gaining traction as a meme I’m here to remind you that Christmas adverts are there to convince you to consume more, conform more, buy more – and burn the whole fucking planet in the meantime.
You know the score. No cooing from me. No gurgling at the latest John Lewis mood music. Send me the ghosts of Victor Kiam, PG Tips chimps and Barry Scott – there’ll no no Christmas spirit for me where Christmas ads are concerned.
They’re not harmless and they’re not just a bit of fun. They’re just one of the nicer-looking cogs in the system everyone apparently despises. It’s one of the prevailing modern mysteries that people rail against experts, elites and the European Union while adverts for massive multinational companies get a free pass, because LOL.
I don’t hate Christmas. But I’m not fond of Christmas adverts. These are the ones that caught my eye this time around: the best, the worst, the most sickeningly awful. You can vote for your favourite below.
Bonus points for the soundtrack – but a load of multicoloured skating yeti? It’s pretty striking I guess but, as ever with Argos adverts, it can’t help but say ‘expensive’ and ‘cheap’ at the same time.
The preponderance of all-CGI adverts these days doesn’t do a lot for me – they just conjure up an image of a speccy 3D animator sitting in a windowless room in front of three massive iMac screens. Good old Kevin The Carrot.
Nothing encapsulates to stupid wastefulness of the modern Christmas more than the buying of crapulous Christmas jumpers to be worn for one day and then discarded. Needless to say they’re not all made by elves in Lapland either: a recent report found that plenty of high-street knitwear was made by people in third-world countries who were regularly ‘beaten, threatened, stripped of their rights and imprisoned on false charges’. Merry Christmas!
If your modus operandi is ‘we sell cheap shit’ then I guess it stands to reason your advert reeks of it.
Boots have been doing Christmas adverts pretty well for a few years now, ducking the sad/happy, snow’n’food clusterfucks and focusing on real people and doing something nice for them. Set against the food-and-stuff orgies Christmas is often presented as, it can’t help but come across well.
Currys PC World
Yeah, OK, I’ll buy this. Unlike a not-dissimilar Littlewoods advert from a few years ago I think this is sending itself up. ‘Just so you know’ is a nice little pay-off too. The idea of stepping foot into a Currys PC World store at any time of the year makes me nauseous, mind.
Jennifer Saunders, Ewan McGregor, Billie Piper, Bruno Tonioli (?) and Mel Giedroyc join forces to lend their voices to a heartening story of buying stuff. I quite like these Debenhams spots and they look and sound lovely – but the execution is just slightly off somehow. Still, it sounds so lovely by the end of it I nearly had a stalk-on.
DFS Christmas advert
Nothing says ‘Christmas is over; now it’s five days dreading going back to work and loathing yourself over how much you’ve eaten and drunk’ like a trip to a slushy sofa warehouse on an industrial estate to see if there are any cheap suites. Hence this adverts, I guess, which uses some lovely Aardman animation to make something almost quite nice. But I just can’t buy into it: I don’t think I’ve ever had a delivery of anything that hasn’t been a ballache and I’d list ‘buying a sofa’ somewhere between ‘trying to claim disability allowance’ and ‘clearing out drains’ in my list of things I’d like to do.
Ebay Christmas Advert
Jesus, just look at the shite they’re advertising here. Still this ploughs a winning Inbetweeners furrow and is pleasingly cynical. The ‘Christmas disco’ angle is pretty oddly specific but this feels like a more honest advert that has a good chance of connecting with its target audience. No CGI animals in sight either.
Littlewoods seems to have gone out its way in recent years to make the most offensively consumerist adverts of all. It’s still at it here with a montage of a family tooling up with the shit they’ve bought each other (on 0% credit, of course). But it’s inoffensive enough – at least compared to previous efforts – and doesn’t feature piano-bothering Tory harpy Myleene Klass. So it can’t be all bad.
Wreath, tree, snow, presents, wooly hats, icing sugar, decorations, mince pies, turkey, Christmas dinner, board games, paper hats. CHECK. Though I do think Morrisons have got it right with everyone’s favourite comforting northern voice in the shape of Paul Copley.
Not On The High Street Christmas advert
A debut effort from ‘power-to-the-people’ indie champions Not On The High Street here, which plays up its ‘real people make this stuff’ angle by casting them as elves from around the country. I also like the battered blue Ford Trannie van.
Well, where to start. The first thing to notice here is that James Corden is singing – singing – this quite dreadful song. It’s as if Sainsbury’s were so desperate to use Corden (as must all broadcasters, by law, in 2016) they crowbarred him into voicing the song, just so they could generate a few more column inches in The Daily Mail and Sun. Corden’s singing is, it must be said, pretty bad – he sounds like a man doing his best after being forced into an involuntary rendition after his first three singing lessons, operating at the limits of his vocal cords. Only one who got a million quid for his efforts.
What I dislike most about this is how depressing the whole thing is. The only way the Dad in this advert can briefly escape from his miserable existence is by replacing himself with a nodding dog, proving that he is both horribly overworked and job-insecure, but also so utterly insignificant that no-one notices he isn’t there.
What a troubling parable for our time: a zero-hours, anxiety-attack, gnawing-insecurity Christmas carol for Brexiting austerity Britain. Cold comfort too, no doubt, for the Sainsbury’s employees who have to be at work for 6am on Boxing Day.
You can’t have your cake and eat it Tesco. As ever Miller and Jones are engaging and the script rides a fine line between kitchen-sink reality and sitcom humour, but it kinda works. I can’t hate it – even if I think it’s got a bloody nerve.
There’s a nice bait-and-switch here that makes sense. TK Maxx just can’t compete with the big names – and probably shouldn’t even be trying. So subverting expectations and disrupting the traditional Christmas snorefests isn’t a bad idea. Works pretty well too, even if the lasting feeling is vague unease.
I think the value in the Toys R Us jingle lies in its nostalgia value: a hefty dose of ‘when I was a kid’ and the fuzzy animation. Update it and it loses a lot of its charm, especially when you realise it’s just not a very good piece of music. ‘There’s millions, says Geoffrey, all under on roof’. What? I do wish they’d include the forgotten third verse, however, if only to see the baffled faced on today’s kids.
“Books Boardgames and Bikes
Teddies, Puppets and Dolls
Bats, Spaceships and Trikes…”
When I was a child I thought I had a new affinity with robins. Because my name is Robin. Sadly this isn’t true, but I do have an affinity with wildlife. I’m in the RSPB and BTO and a lot of charitable donations of mine go towards supporting wildlife. You know who doesn’t support wildlife? Supermarkets. Agriculture.
If we’re not careful we’ll end up in a situation where the only wild birds we see are CGI efforts on Christmas adverts. It’s enough to make you weep into a Waitrose mince pie.
Vote for your favourite Christmas advert
Favourites? You tell me. I’ll take is as read the answer ‘none of the above’ will feature.
Christmas adverts of old
Refresh your memories of the best and worst Christmas adverts – sob pitifully at advertising or enrage yourself to vein-throbbing standards – of previous years.