AdTurds Bad Adverts – Badverts

4Jan/154

The Worst Advert of 2014: Results

Well, well, well.

It seems that many people, rather than being touched by Sainsburys' advert about the Christmas Truce, thought it was the worst advert of the year. I've explained previously why I thought so when it originally came out and in the end-of-the-year round-up, so I'm not going to repeat myself.

Suffice to say, I do hope this misadventure is the last we see of appalling moments in history being used to flog goods. And to anyone who wants to take this up with me, I offer the following question: In what way would it be worse to use 9/11 as a backdrop for advertising a supermarket in a similar idiom?

Of the other top three competing to be named worst advert of 2014, I was surprised but heartened to see Gladstone Brookes ranking highly. This aggravating, openly aggressive and hideously ubiquitous advert was like an aggressive fungus spreading across television screens in 2014. The product they were advertising? Charging you a wedge for the sake of sending out a templated letter.

ihu

There's something offensive in a vaguely Dickensian way about that and while I'm sure their terrible advert played a part, I think the number of votes indicates that readers felt similarly about Gladstone Brookes' business methods.

Hive rounds off the top three and was winning this poll for a fortnight or so. There was no more aggravating noise in 2014 than this ghastly, twee, try-hard ditty that sounds like it was sung in a shed by a man wearing a stupid pom-pom hat, drinking cloudy cider and thinks Ed Sheeran is the last word in cool music. From everyone in the world, Hive, I beg you to fuck right off.


The rest of the poll


I loved how Wonga spectacularly imploded this year, with their ads disappearing from screens as the company underwent a lengthly self-flagellation, execs were defenestrated and they admitted they'd lent money to people who wouldn't be able to repay their loans in a million years. This was particularly satisfying as Wonga have made a habit of popping up on this blog over the years to complain that I've misrepresented them.

Picture 1

My big problem with the actual adverts is that they turn the serious business of borrowing money into some insane, infantilised pantomime - it's a smoking gun, as far as I'm concerned, as to Wonga's real market and in pulling these ads, they've admitted as much.

Hotels4U, another ad that simply vanished as quickly as it appeared, is the only advert I've ever seen that made me fear for the safety of the actors it featured. Their Twitter account reads: "If you love #hotels & high quality television adverts then you've come to the right place!".

While not in any way offensive or annoying, the Co-Op advert smacked of a company that simply doesn't know what it's about anymore. The fact that an agency made this ad and the client signed it off is, frankly, a disastrous mistake by everyone concerned.

Will this be the year that Andrex stops trying to sell us their wet wipes? I don't know, but I do hope it's the year they stop telling us that they're safe to flush. Especially as there's a full ad campaign by water companies specifically designed to refute this claim. Where next for this lengthy campaign which seems determined to make us discuss faeces?

Picture 2

I'm not sure there's much less to say about the remainder, other than how appallig they are. What I can guarantee is this: CompareTheMarket isn't going anywhere, despite being the most overstayed welcome since Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy; Sky Sports will continue to pretend that football matter, when it doesn't fucking matter one bit; Apple will continue to be smug; beards will continue to be appropriated by fuckwits; cheese strings will remain vile in every respect and that we will never escape The Redknapps.

Happy New Year.


Others

There were plenty of votes for other adverts readers hated, including lots (excluded here) that simply aaid 'all of them'.

Mostly good choices on the whole, though I can't agree with the Singing Toys advert. Even though I couldn't tell you what it was advertising if I had a gun to my head, it was one of the best of the year for my money. I actually wrote to the makers of the ad to see if they'd let me have the wonky owl, but they never replied to me.

Natwest - 3 votes
Gala Bingo - 3 votes
Paddy Power - 2 votes
Singing toys - 2 votes
Oak Furniture Land - 1 vote
Carphone Warehouse - 1 vote
Sensodyne Toothpaste - 1 vote
Paypal - 2 votes
Bet 365 - 1 vote
Cadbury Xmas - 1 vote
Coral Windows Radio Advert - 1 vote
Vistaprint - 1 vote
John Lewis - 1 vote
Chloe Perfume - 1 vote
Argos - 1 vote
Go Compare - 1 vote
Vanarama - 1 vote
Famous Grouse - 1 vote
First4Lawyers - 1 vote
MyMate - 1 vote
Renault Zoe - 1 vote

16Nov/1411

Best And Worst Christmas Adverts 2014

John-Lewis-monty the penguin

So, here we are again. It's still six weeks before Christmas Day, but the phony war starts earlier and earlier every year now. Christmas provides a unique and irresistible opportunity for brands to give themselves a boost going into the next year - a little bit like striking the first metaphorical blow at the press conference that precedes a bout of boxing, or invading Belgium.

In light of the collapse of Western civilisation that the Big Four supermarkets losing market share apparently constitutes, brand equity and brand power is ever-more important as our beloved high-street (not to mention out-of-town industrial estate) goes through a fundamental structural correction. Communicating what makes you different, better or cheaper than your rivals - and getting people to buy into that idea - is where it's at these days and television adverts are the primary weapon.

The money that buys prime advertising space - charged at up to £250,000 per advert for the best slots in the week or so before the big day - could probably fund a medium-sized African dictator for a year, so high are the stakes.

We live in the age of the multi-platform campaign so the power of the hashtag - not to mention multi-million quid cinematic featurettes - have been deployed this year amid a massive social media push to engage the yoof with ahh! and LOL! and WTF! moments: a penguin in love; fairies delivering bribes to Twitter users; a global war in which 20 million people died...

2014's Christmas adverts are the opening salvos in a new campaign - the campaign to see who lays the most convincing claim for the ground they want to inhabit for the next few years. Fittingly - but also tastelessly - many newspapers and blogs describe this as a battle of the Christmas adverts. Fittingly because it undoubtedly it is a battle, possibly for survival for some players; tastelessly because this year Sainsbury's has decided that it will use trench warfare as its setting for its Christmas advert.

It's a little bit like bringing a live grenade to a custard pie fight - poor old Monty the Penguin looks a bit stupid when you line him up next to the hot young cast of the Sainsbury's advert, whose real-life counterparts - unlike Monty, Jools Holland or Ant & Dec - were largely mown down by machine-gun fire once the cameras stopped rolling.

Similarly, everyone else is rather left in the wake of the Sainsbury's advert, like rubber ducks in a bath bombed by the Enola Gay. As a result of Sainsbury's fearless approach to adopting mass killing as a backdrop to a Christmas advert, I look forward to the supermarkets employing the Cambodian genocide, Balkan conflict, Al Qaeda terrorist atrocities and the Aberfan disaster in their adverts over the next year.

No doubt the likes of Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman of Ogilvy Group UK, would say call this strategy 'risky' - but on the whole I can only assume he'd approve. In these days, when the only arbiter as to what is considered an appropriate advert is how well it plays on social media, when acceptance on Twitter is the only validation required, it's the logical - the only - conclusion.

I saw the Sainsbury's advert breathlessly referred to as The Advert To End All Adverts, which would be quite witty, if not for its fundamental cuntishness. And it makes me wonder - if they think this is OK, what else is around the corner?

So, Merry Christmas. In the event that you aren't blown apart by a stray advert or simply shell-shocked at the horror of it all, do let me know which is your favourite below.

Christmas Adverts 2014

Aldi

Aldi's first real misstep when it comes to advertising. The German brand has made a success of its brand proposition and physical offering by explicitly not doing what the Big Four have done since the year dot. Until now, where they sign up to the 'me too' brand of supermarket Christmas advert with a battleship's weight worth of food and a crap celeb (Jools Sodding Holland). There's the Gin Granny from a very early ad, when Aldi ads were still excellent, but fundamentally this is as forgettable as every other Xmas ad out there. Truly, Aldi has arrived.

Rating: 2/5

Argos

Who associates hip-hop with Christmas? This chilly, charmless and actively aggravating spot for Argos does at least have the distinction of ditching the unloved Bill Nighy and Caroline Quentin-voiced sperms. A fundamentally horrible advert all told, though.

Rating: 1/5

Asda

There's always something a bit no-nonsense about Asda's advertising, which rather suits the brand. Here's an advert that basically says 'if we're shelling out a million quid then we're damn well going to actually advertise stuff'. A little like an Asda shop then: a necessity that you're glad is over the second it is.

Rating: 2/5

Boots

Can't argue with this one and as members of my close family frequently find themselves working on Christmas Day - meaning that the extended fam has often celebrated on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day to facilitate the best possible experience for them - I can relate. A nice ad, well intentioned and well made.

Rating: 4/5

Debenhams

Frankly Debenhams only enters my consciousness once a year when I'm compiling these lists, but it is the season of good cheer so they're making an appearance. Verdict: inoffensive.

Rating: 3/5

Iceland

Call it a concession, an admission of defeat or even a cry for help. Perhaps it's just recognition of what and where Iceland is. Profoundly not aspirational, not middle-class, not classy. Oh, what's that speeding away into the distance? It's Aldi and Lidl. Cheap, cheesy - Magaluf in supermarket form.

Rating: 1/5

John Lewis

As exciting, predictable and emotional as a Stephen Hendry tournament win in the mid-1990s. A triumph of efficiency - and that's all.

Rating: 2.5/5

Lidl

An extension of the Lidl Differences series of ads that have been running, where poshos are surprised to find the lovely nosh they've been hoying down their gobs is from that downmarket place near the estate. Minus points for the almost-subliminal smattering of words like 'value' throughout, which reminded me of this.

Rating: 2/5

Littlewoods

Myleene Klass and Christopher Biggins as brand ambassadors. Crikey - what statement is being made there?. At face value there's nothing particularly wrong with this; look closer and Myleene is busy turning beautiful, original, interesting wares at what looks like a Persian bazar into the sort of cheap and tacky shit with which you'd associate Littlewoods. Which isn't a great message, really.

Rating: 2/5

Marks and Spencer

An expensive checklist of Christmas advert staples rendered as efficiently and lovelessly as a wall in a Barratt Home is plastered.

Rating: 2/5

Morrisons

Utterly forgettable which, given that Morrisons is by far the least visible of the Big Four, is something of a problem. Just like their stores, I don't know what's supposed to set them apart. And if you employ the original cheeky chappies of television in Ant and Dec, why isn't your ad a little irreverent, like it was last year?

Rating: 2/5

Sainsbury's

A beautiful slice of exploitative, offensive supermarket propaganda.

Rating: N/A

Tesco

Tesco has never done Christmas ads well - coming as it does in the midst of the supermarket's biggest crisis in decades it just serves to enhance the suspicion that it's lost sight of what it is, what its strengths are and what the core message is.

Rating: 1/5

Waitrose

Waitrose generally bucks the trend and this sets it apart from the rest of the pack nicely. Giving, showing resolve, employee stakeholding - there's a message I can get behind at this time of year. Truly abysmal soundtrack, like, but you can't have everything.

Rating: 4/5


• Refresh your memories of the best and worst Christmas adverts – sob pitifully at advertising or enrage yourself to vein-throbbing standards – of previous years

Best and Worst Xmas Ads of 2013

Best and Worst Xmas Ads of 2012

Best and Worst Xmas Ads of 2011

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