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Diet Coke Advert 2018: Yurt, Athleisure and A Gaping Abyss

Diet Coke advert 2018

Well, well, well. A new Diet Coke advert. Like a Tory party broadcast or a Nigel Farage Question Time appearance, a new Diet Coke advert is to be greeted in much the same way as an unloved season. Tedious, inevitable - though more likely to make your guts explode.

I have a longstanding beef with Diet Coke, because their adverts are some of the worst ever devised. First there was the advert starring Duffy that not only killed Duffy's career stone-dead, it finished of Keith Duffy too, just for good measure - and he had nothing to do with it.

Second, the Diet Coke frotters, fingering their ringpulls when they spray their sticky stuff all over a man.

Now, a confession. I drink Diet Coke. I started drinking it with a vengeance when I quit smoking - it's the caffeine hit I guess - and haven't really weaned myself off it. And I can safely say that it's fucking horrible.

Diet Coke tastes like poison, in much the same way that smoking does. It's reminiscent of chemicals and something that vaguely resembles sugar. I drink Diet Coke because in some fucked-up psychological manner I associate the nicotine hit I still crave with whatever Diet Coke is doing to my synapses. And that's it.

So the claim that Diet Coke 'is delicious' lies somewhere on the honesty scale between Russia's denials that it has stockpiles of chemical weapons and any claim disputing the actual fact that Piers Morgan is a snivelling little cunt.

Secondly, the lady in this advert claims Diet Coke 'makes me feel good'. That's because it's full of chemicals that make your brain briefly go haywire. It's certainly bad for your teeth, worse than even full-fat soft drinks according to some authoritative reports, so it's no surprise that Coca-Cola's adverts don't even try to make the suggestion that Diet Coke is good for you in any objective way.

Diet Coke advert yurt

We then get the utterly baffling "You know what else makes me feel good? Athleisure!"

I like to imagine the young lady in question has a lisp, and she's actually saying 'ass-leisure'. I'll leave it for you to decide what that might entail.

Also I'm not sure why this apparently-British lady is using the American pronunciation 'lee-zure'. It's 'lejuh' - to rhyme with pleasure, like in 'leisure centre'. A small point perhaps, but another facet of this utterly horrible advert that seems determined to send precision-guided shooting pains through my head.

"Because it's comfy casual." Even Holly Willoughby couldn't be this simperingly vacant if you boiled her for 24 hours, collected the resulting residue and injected it into Nigella Lawson. Plus, what the fuck are you talking about?

Look, if you preface a statement with 'look' you're signalling that you're about to tell it like it is; to set the record straight. You might preface a sentence such as "It's not good news," or "We need to talk" with a 'look". Here we get some verbal incontinence about drinking pop and wearing lycra.

Next we hear that life is short. Which leads me to wonder whether this Diet Coke advert is simply trying to prepare us for the oncoming apocalypse? This is, surely, how the news will be broadcast to us anyway? Not with a stern-faced, gravel-voiced news anchorman, but by Clare Balding on a comfy sofa or a Reggie Yates documentary.

I don't want to live in a yurt, thanks, neither do I want to run a marathon (a side-note, if you use the prefix 'super' to create any word not already in the dictionary, I super-hate you).

But why is a drink that used to be extolled for its health benefits being advertised by a woman telling us to indulge ourselves, as if it's a Krispy Kreme donut injected wit Ket? Leaving aside the fact that, should I want to indulge myself, I'll be plumping for whiskey, fags, cocaine and a huge German prostitute, it's unutterably pitiful that a can of Diet Coke could be considered by anyone some sort of guilt-inducing gastronomic sin.

Unless that guilt is induced by the mountains of plastic waste Coca-Cola is responsible for - or for muscling in and drying up wells around the world, of course.

Diet coke advert athleisure

Bear with me, I'm nearly finished.

"If you want a Diet Coke, have a Diet Coke."

That's it? That's the pay-off to this sequence of dissonant Millennial brain-shart? Is this what William Shakespeare died for? Is that what a medium-sized Colombian cocaine-harvest produced? 'Have a Diet Coke - because you can'?

Rest in your grave Emmeline Pankhurst; sleep tight Stephen Hawking; dream fitfully Nelson Mandela - mankind has got it covered. We've had a long talk about it and we've decided that we've come up with the answer to life, the universe... everything. And the answer is... 'if you want a Diet Coke, have a Diet Coke.'

That's the sum total of human endeavour, right there. That's what 200,000 years of evolution, the renaissance and industrial revolution brought us. We've decided to hand over the reins of humanity to the Diet Coke demographic, with their athleisure and 'yurt it up'. We're superhappy with the results and we think the future's in safe hands.

Back in the 70s, ensconced in Berlin, David Bowie and Brian Eno refined a technique for creating music called Oblique Strategies. The idea is to encourage lateral thinking, often by doing something that might appear nonsensical or resulting in an apparent non-sequitur. In our short history such techniques have been used to create some of the finest art in history.

But in this Diet Coke advert, filled with meaningless, unconnected phrases that still manage to come off as deeply affected and hatefully hip, what appears to be a similar dynamic has birthed perhaps the most obnoxiously dumb 30 seconds in existence.

More nauseating than Trump boasting of grabbing women by their parts; more smug than Piers Morgan announcing he has won the Euromillions rollover; more thoroughly awful than Nigel Farage laughing while doing a shit in your bath, the Diet Coke advert is a Soho/Manhattan nightmare of vacant stupidity that literally has no meaning. You are trapped in it and there is no escape. Welcome to 2018. Welcome to the rest of your life.

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A Double-Whammy McDonalds Advert: McCafe and Big Mac

Big Mac advert

Recently, while out on manoeuvres, I had a close escape. Settling down to watch The Post (sentimental tripe) at my local cinehouse I was subjected to not one, but two McDonald's adverts. Clearly my enemies had found me and taken great delight into showing two adverts about the popular burger chain's Type II Edible Matter Products.

The first I have talked about before - the McDonald's McCafe advert - but there is a new iteration. This time, rather than poking fun at coffee houses themselves it's those pesky young people with beards and knowledge who are getting it in the neck.

As I have said before I'm ambivalent about coffee snobbery. On the one hand the achingly wanky hipster coffee houses of the world are an expensive and pretentious indulgence. But I've been in very few coffee houses that fit this bill. Most are cheerful, independent and employ local people and local ingredients.

mcdonalds mccafe advert

I've been into McDonald's 'restaurants' a couple of dozen times in my life, usually under protest and in a larger group,and I have never found them to be cheerful. Independent? Nope. Local ingredients? Nope. They might employ some local people - but let's not forget that economies of scale in business lead to fewer jobs than in comparable independent businesses. This is a statistical fact.

What I hate about this advert is how thoroughly, aggressively anti-knowledge it is. It sneers at knowledge, passion and skill - and by virtue of this it sneers at independent business, individuality - even thinking. "Get in line," says the McDonald's McCafe advert "and drink your cheap, shitty coffee lest people in the quirky cafe next door laugh at you."

It's the perfect metaphor for Brexit, where fear of ridicule, fear of change and fear of the Other overrides everything. Look at the bloke in the image above, terrified because the coffee guy is sitting down next to him and explaining coffee. Imagine living your life like the protagonists in this advert - forever afraid. And probably a bit racist. A disturbing vision for a resolutely Stupid, Fearful Britain riddled with terrible coffee.

Next, it's the anniversary of the Big Mac. It's 50 years old, which is probably the average life expectancy of someone who eats this rubbish regularly, their arteries probably harder than Chuck Norris.

I wouldn't eat a Big Mac if you paid me. I once ate a chicken McBurger after a drunken night out and the memory of the taste of sugar - in the bun, in the mayonnaise, in the coating - still makes me retch. Year later on a very early-morning work trip I ventured into one with some colleagues and rationalised that they could hardly fuck up a breakfast wrap.

Wrong. My overriding memory of this was a wrap and a frisbee of egg that tasted of, yes, sugar. No wonder people get all aggressive when you question their McDonald's habits - Maccies has got them physically addicted to the gak they pump into their food.

Big Mac advert

So I'm not moved to celebrate the invention of a burger that has probably sent thousands to an appointment with a specialist diabetes nurse. Not convinced? Here's an illuminating post about what eating ONE Big Mac does to your body and the potential consequences, which include the following phrases:

"raises your blood sugar to abnormal levels..."
"contributes to the likelihood of compulsive eating"
"These ingredients are also harmful and can cause obesity, diabetes and heart disease..."
"This huge amount of salt can result in dehydration..."
"This causes high blood pressure and can ultimately lead to heart disease and stroke..."
"you have lost control of your blood sugar, making you crave even more fast food..."
"The high-fructose corn syrup in the Big Mac bun...[causes] insulin spikes and even greater hunger pangs..."
"The burger’s ingredients can cause serious harm to your body, especially when you consume them on a regular basis..."
"Azodicarbonamide... is also carcinogenic..."
"...increases your chances of becoming overweight by 40%..."

Again, what's so obnoxious about the actual advert is the contempt directed at people who don't choose to eat this processed shit, as if you have to be some sort of weird elite to not eat crap. The response to the man who has never had a Big Mac? More contempt. I've never had a Big Mac either and there are few things of which I'm more proud.

The first time I went into a McDonald's - about 1988 - I threw the food down in disgust, much to the amusement of my classmates. One of them shouted acrosss to a nearby Maccies worker - in a situation not unlike the one portrayed in this advert - and said: "Our mate says your food is horrible!"

The employee looked from me to my mate, watched him scarfing down his Big Mac and pointed at me.

"He right," he said in broken English.

Then he pointed at my mate, wiping away grease and cow parts from his face.

"You wrong."

And off he went, sweeping the floor.

It's literally 30 years ago and I still often think of that chap - like something from a Hollywood film that makes the protagonist recognise some universal wisdom - and wonder where he is now. Not working in a Maccies, I hope.

What's always noticeable about these McDonald's adverts is the cast of people they include - like a pick'n'mix of regional working-class types. Look carefully, you'll usually find a workman's helmet in there somewhere. And families, oh the families. Because what sort of parent are you if you don't given in to your kids and feed them food you know is astonishingly bad for them?

Rarely do you see anyone in a McDonald's advert who is dining alone. Imagine what sort of sad bastard would be eating a Big Mac on his own, eh?

Because there is something almost unbearably sad about someone going to a McDonald's on their own and eating a Big Mac on their own - perhaps a single candle sticking out of a Big Mac bun on the occasion of their own 50th birthday, riddled with gout, gasping for breath and reaching for a vial of insulin.

Yes, happy birthday Big Mac and thanks for everything you've done for us.

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