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22Feb/100

Don’t Mention The War: Operation New Dawn

OK, so this is admittedly pushing the boundaries of what a daft blog about adverts tends to cover, but since journos are expected to be PRs these days, PRs expected to be marketers and marketers... well, you get the idea. We're all multitaskers now.

Including the Pentagon, which has gone into the communications industry with the news that the Iraq War will no longer be called Operation Iraqi Freedom, but Operation New Dawn instead. Skipping over the fact that whoever comes up with these names – the hilariously, unfortunately-titled Operation Infinite Justice and Operation Enduring Freedom are previous clangers – must moonlight as the guy responsible for naming all new first-person shooters, I'm not clear what this rebrand achieves.

Because the second you drop white phosphorous on the population you're supposedly liberating, all that talk of 'evolving relationships' starts sounding a little hollow, unless you're explicit on evolving them from being people into being charred corpses. Can you rebrand a war? By its very nature war involves killing people in violent and unpleasant ways, whichever way you look at it. You might as well try to rebrand a killer virus, or road accidents.

You can wrestle all you want with the answer to what constitutes the first casualty of war, and the Newspeak aspect to it all, but at the end of the day what it reveals if the fundamental disconnect between advertising and reality. The very notion that anyone can be fooled into readjusting their perception of the Iraq occupation due to a nice slogan seems barking. Then again, so did the idea that anyone thought the war was over back in May 2003.

16Feb/102

Eastenders Duff Duffs

The recently-invented phenomenon of Duff Duffs, referring to the drum beats that herald the Eastenders cliffhanger, is the worst marketing speak ever invented.

It wouldn't be quite so horrible if people had naturally started referring to them as Duff Duffs, but people haven't - it's the idiot invention of some sap who works for BBC3, itself rapidly degenerating into the worst channel on the box and a continuing knife through the heart of any claims the BBC has to an exclusive licence fee.

The cliffhanger has always been something of a phenomenon in itself, if not exactly a particularly well-liked one, but the last couple of years has brought a wholly unwelcome and self-aware explosion in this phoney phenomenon.

You can barely see a programme about soaps these days without a pack of talking heads singing theme tunes or reciting famous lines, making complete tits of themselves at the behest of an assistant director.

What makes it worse is the BBC's multi-platform reach, which allows them to broadcast these feckless quotes and musical stings into every corner of your consciousness. It's enough to send me, sobbing, into the arms of Rupert Murdoch.

The Duff Duffs campaign has been spearheaded with a number of advert featuring ordinary members of the public making massive tits of themselves by part-discussing part-reciting famous scenes from Eastenders. At the end they do the drum beats. It's just unbearably awful.

Running to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Eastenders has been a reasonably entertaining show counting down who has had the most cliffhangers devoted to them.

As a side note, it's fascinating to see how certain Eastenders actors have aged over the years. Shaun Williamson, aka Barry, is a walking advert for avoiding hair replacement therapy like the plague.

Shane Richie, though, seems to be in the act of performing some sort of miracle by simultaneously looking like a baby and an old man's reanimated corpse at the same time.

Unfortunately it's rammed full of scene-reciting, cliffhanger-enacting actors being forces to constantly refer to 'duff duffs', while the most cringe-inducing voiceover from Kirsten O'Brien includes a reference to 'duff duffs' every eight seconds.

I pray to God this doesn't catch on, I pray to God there's no iPhone app that plays 'duff duffs' at will, I entreat all that is holy that the general election to remain free of the inane gibberish.

Please stop saying duff duffs. Everyone, everywhere – I beg you – do not even say duff duffs. Don't do the music, don't scream 'Rickyyyyy!' or 'You're not my muvva!' or 'Gerroutta mar pub!'.

Don't pretend to beat the drums, don't sing the theme tune: don't encourage them. And please, for the love of God and in the name of everything you may hold dear STOP SAYING DUFF DUFFS.

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