AdTurds Bad Adverts – Badverts

20Oct/140

RIP Lynda Bellingham

It always seem a tad crass to reduce the scope of a life down to an advert, but Lynda Bellingham was probably seen by virtually everyone in the British isles as the OXO Mum in a series of adverts from the gravy producers in the 80s and 90s.

We don't really get this homely nuclear family staple in advertising anymore – the Smash robots, the Tetley brewers, Gold Blend couple, Hofmeister bear and so on being other examples I remember fondly - apart from when Jonny Vegas and Monkey reappear from time to time, but televisions used to be full of them. It's worth remembering that in the 80s there were merely four TV channels, so you found yourself watching ITV even when you didn't want to.

There are pluses and negatives here - one of them being that advertisers knew they had a captive audience so didn't have to be quite so obnoxious in attracting your attention. So these adverts were allowed to breath and develop over the years, become a part of our families too as we scoffed our tea, swigged our brews and glazed over in the ad break between Corrie.

It's a testament to Bellingham - and the other members of the cast - that these adverts never got on our nerves, annoyed us; never became unwelcome in our homes. In fact, there's a curious sense of loss when something so familiar goes from the TV screens, so much do we associate them with happy, homely times in our real lives.

My money's on a return of the Oxo Mum to TV screens as a small tribute - and there might just be the odd tear spilt as well as whatever's in the gravy boat.

29Jun/100

Best Ever Print Ad Taglines?

Stuff like this is gold dust on marketing, advertising and PR blogs because it's good link-bait-y copy. Top tens always go down well, but if you can match something that tugs at the nostalgia strings of readers, string it out over 20-odd pages and churn out some generic keyword-heavy intros and you're away.

It's ironic that this one is about advertising taglines, as the title 'best every ad taglines?' - or words to that effect - is almost an advertising tagline in itself.

Anyway, the slogans on this article by Forbes - coincidentally one of the least user-friendly sites in existence - are inevitably US-based, but enough of them should have leaked through to our combined UK and European consciousnesses for them to make sense.

Some are universal. BMW's Ultimate Driving Machine is timeless. Or so you would have thought, as BMW recently ditched it for the appalling Joy.

Just Do It - also a good one, and a slogan coincidentally used by my Dad, in his general attitude to life. Not because of a freaky baseball-cap-wearing US geriatric, but because it worked for him.

Got milk? has alway baffled me. Surely the answer is either 'yes I have go milk' or 'no I haven't got milk'?

Mastercard's There Are Some Things Money Can't Buy tagline is supposedly well-loved. And while it's spawned a thousand spoofs, it doesn't exactly stand out. Does it do anything that other cards don't do? No, it doesn't. So who exactly 'loves' it?

Verizon's Can You Hear Me Now? suggests to me that the line is bad, forcing a redial. It also sounds like something a Tarantino protagonist would shout while pumping someone's head full of bullets.

McDonalds' You Deserve a Break Today has an old-world charm, certainly more than I'm Lovin' It. And We Bring Good Things to Life for GE is quaintly pleasing, far more so than the meaningless, aspirational Imagination At Work. Then again, these were the days before carbon emissions.

Forbes tells us that the simplicity of The Milk Chocolate Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand is what makes it so good. But if describing what a product does makes a tagline clever, why isn't the Pampers slogan Keeps Baby Shit From Falling Out All Over The Place?

And Time to Make the Donuts? Surely the donuts have been made already? What?

You've Come a Long Way, Baby - Virginia Slims' tagline for marketing fags at women - is well-loved, Forbes tells us. Is it? Is it really? Who loves it exactly? The best I can say about something that plays on womens' fears of their own body image is that it smacks of a low animal cunning.

Reach Out and Touch Someone from AT&T is obviously problematic, while Be All You Can Be - for the US army - has a lot of obvious unfortunate rejoinders: 'working-class cannon fodder', perhaps?

Anyway, what I think stuff like this says about advertising is that it's indelibly linked with a hazy nostalgia for time's gone by. No-one's immune to it. It's the reason why old ads get a run out from time-to-time; the reason we form affinities with brands; the reason why articles like this exist.

Because we don't love the taglines. We love the bittwerweet melancholy of remembering.

• What are the 'best-loved' UK advertising slogans? Some that seem typically British include Ah, Bisto!; Go To Work On An Egg; Beanz Meanz Heinz; Have A Break. Have A Kit-Kat; For Mash Get Smash; Hello Tosh, Gotta Toshiba...

   

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