Tesco was the runaway winner of the poll to find the worst advert of 2015. By such a long way that it garnered almost four times as many votes as its closest rival, Clean Bandit's quite hideous Cortana advert and a full 35% higher than a third-placed late addition - the Virgin Media advert.
This is by far the biggest win of any terrible advert over the last seven years, but I'm going out on a limb to suggest that Tesco's ubiquity around the time the poll has somewhat skewed the results. Was it really worse than the Clean Bandit Cortana advert? The godawful Haribo ad where they talk in children's voices? Or the utterly vile Andrex 'gold pants' ad? For my money no, but there's certainly something interesting going on here.
The rather swaggering way that Tesco went into this ad campaign - believing it had 'permission to be funny' and that there was a 'latent love of the brand' - only to be met with a wall of visceral hatred reminded me of the grisly way the Ceaușescus went to their doom in 1989. Waving and smiling to a crowd one minute; machine-gunned up against a wall the next.
Hyperbole? Just take a look at the comments on this Facebook post, which contains just one image of actor Will Close (the annoying son to Ruth Jones and Ben Miller in the Tesco adverts) and nothing more. A calvacade of hatred.
My theory on this is that our suspicion of government, banks and big business is finally catching up with authority figures. It's why Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP have become more popular; why the High Street is having such a terrible time; why we burn effigies of politicians and bankers. The old orders are being disrupted.
It's not so established that we're actually leaving our banks or shopping at co-operatives - instead we vent our frustration in more symbolic ways. We're unlikely to vote out a Tory government virtually everyone believes is horrible but we're sure as Hell going to throw eggs at them. Tesco and the like - all those big, familiar brands - can expect a rougher ride going forward.
20 years ago Tesco had Prunella Scales and Jane Horrocks doing the exact same thing as Miller, Jones and Close. And it was seen as part of Tesco's undeniable elevation to the king of the edgeland-megastore; the vanguard of a movement that killed off our limping town centres. Skip forward to today and Tesco is struggling and a set of adverts that do exactly the same thing are utterly despised.
Something has changed. The question for agencies, brands, business - for all of us - is what?
Worst Advert of 2015: Results
Tesco wins with over 44% of the vote, with the Cortana advert a distant second at 12.33% and Virgin Media - a late entry that probably would have claimed the runner-up spot if it had been in the original poll - taking bronze with just under 10%. MadBid was just outside the medals and the only other advert to take more than five per cent of the vote in a very open field. A field of shite, that is.
oak furniture land
Vitality uk dog
Joe Hart Head and Shoulders advert
House of Fraser "Your Christmas your rules"
ALL OF THEM
Apple xmas advert
LA vie est belle
Worst Advert Of The Year: Past winners
Tesco joins AdTurds royalty Wonga, Sainsbury's, Go Compare, Haribo and Halifax in being voted the worst advert of the year. You can check out results and what I had to say for them below.
With opinion crystallising around the idea that the Clean Bandit Cortana advert is ranked somewhere between the explosion of Krakatoa and 90s soap opera Eldorado in terms of Bad Things, I wonder how Clean Bandit have viewed the last month. That is, assuming they can view anything, what with the amounts of bank notes Microsoft has been explosively ejaculating in their direction for most of 2015.
I've had my say on the Clean Bandit advert already - as has most of the internet - but bad adverts are meat and drink to blogs and websites, whose job it is to scorn stuff like this. For a real snapshot of how the group's Cortana advert has gone down we need to look at social media - if stuff goes down badly on the likes of Twitter, increasingly taken over by vlogging twerps, you know you're in trouble.
I've got some filthy news for you, Clean Bandit. The people who inhabit Twitter, one of the easiest audiences to impress, think it's a shitter. The words cringe, embarrassing and die are used most frequently in reference to the ad - and something truly awful becomes apparent.
Even though people hate it, their cringe muscle is even more exercised than their hate muscle. People don't hate Clean Bandit for this advert; they actually pity Clean Bandit for being in their advert.
See what you make of the following responses from Twitter, Vine and Youtube and ask yourself if the band will ever recover from their awkward dalliance with Cortana.
What Clean Bandit Should Ask Cortana For
Class A drugs?
I think Clean Bandit should be asking Windows Cortana for some personalities. Or some crack. Any kind will do
— Neil Grainger (@GraingerNeil) April 3, 2015
Is this a new Duffy Diet Coke ad in the making?
Gosh, Cortana. It seems Clean Bandit have a Grammy and had a number 1 single and yet that awful advert is how most people will know them.
— Will Howells (@willhowells) April 3, 2015
Even MPS Are Dissing Them
Stella Creasy MP just pwned Clean Bandit.
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) April 2, 2015
Genuine fury, randomly directed.
that cortana clean bandit advert honestly makes me wanna hurt people
— bh (@bthnyhrn) March 30, 2015
That Clean Bandit advert is tragic. "You made me larrrrf, Cortana." Die.
— Sean Smith (@thegoatboyrises) March 23, 2015
"You make me laugh Cortana" "You make me want to repeatedly punch you in the genitals, Clean Bandit"
— Jayne Sharp (@Jaynesharp) March 23, 2015
"Cortana, are Clean Bandit the most punchable bunch of teenagers I've ever seen?" "Absolutely."
— Stuart Russell (@stuartrustle) March 8, 2015
Was It Worth It? / Change Your Agent
How much money could possibly be worth all this?
— Lotte Jones (@lottejones) March 30, 2015
Cortana, remind Clean Bandit to have a word with their agent re being in shit adverts.
— Thomas Parry (@tomosp) March 26, 2015
How much did Clean Bandit get paid for that Cortana advert coz its fucking awful.
— Ali Martin (@Peachy_Ali) March 17, 2015
There are no words for the Cortana / Clean Bandit advert
— Rhiannon Williams (@RhiannonJudithW) March 16, 2015
Clean Bandit Fans
Even Clean Bandit fans - or erstwhile Clean Bandit fans - are appalled.
That Clean Bandit 'Cortana' advert is so bad, I'm seriously considering ripping up the tickets I've got for their gig on Friday. So so awful
— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) March 10, 2015
That Cortana advert is terrible, all it's done is make me dislike Clean Bandit
— Polly (@pollyvdsz) March 31, 2015
I thought I liked Clean Bandit until they featured on that God awful 'Cortana' advert for Nokia. Christ.
— Amy Ince (@amy_ince) March 25, 2015
Say what you like about that Clean Bandit phone ad, but Cortana *does* sound like a name one of their mates would have.
— Sergeant Tibbs (@bohaynowell) March 12, 2015
The Clean Bandit Cortana advert's great if you ever wondered how smug someone can look while talking to an algorithm pic.twitter.com/ibjDkMjzBR
— So-called Paul (@ShadowDancerMCR) February 23, 2015
Cortana/Clean Bandit ad: is it designed to make us all want to give up on everything? A sort of reverse Wag The Dog? pic.twitter.com/fjTpG5WtSM
— Mark Smith (@amancalledmark) March 15, 2015
Reverend And The Makers identify just what Clean Bandit can expect to have shouted at them forever
@cleanbandit "hey Cortana"
— Reverend&TheMakers (@Reverend_Makers) March 18, 2015
Cortana / Clean Bandit Media
Lots of people can't rely on words to express their fury.
That Cortana ad with CleanBandit is so awkward! The idea isnt bad but the script & the acting make me wanna do this pic.twitter.com/R9DulHfeu3
— Matt Ashton (@mHASHton) March 10, 2015
Whenever I see that Microsoft Cortana advert with Clean Bandit.. pic.twitter.com/X8gBY5KCyw
— Jon Snow (@AvengedMichael) March 31, 2015
The Clean Bandit Cortana situation though. pic.twitter.com/1xEjfcqvMx
— Chris (@smalltown2k) March 25, 2015
Me when that Clean Bandit/Cortana advert comes on pic.twitter.com/5q55I0cxvR
— david (@_davidmb) March 5, 2015
— Philip Noel (@philberforce) February 25, 2015
Just a bit of fun, but we've "improved" the Microsoft Cortana/Clean Bandit advert with a bit of editing: https://t.co/QJQFWjIbzH
— Jetpack Squirrel (@SquirrelPower) April 2, 2015
You make me laugh, Cortana
You Make Me Laugh, Cortana https://t.co/k7norRyB0c
— Pierre Novellie (@pierrenovellie) March 31, 2015
Cringe, Embarrassment And Shame
The Cortana advert is provoking a lot of physical reactions across the land.
Going to start measuring how cringey a situation is on a scale of 0 to Clean Bandit for Cortana Advert
— lauren waine (@itslaurenwaine) March 30, 2015
Just how cringy is that Microsoft advert with Clean Bandit? The "You make me laugh, Cortana" makes me want to puke, Cortana.
— Mark Arby (@markarby) March 23, 2015
I don't know if I'm embarrassed more for the Cortana A.I. or Clean Bandit in that horrendous Microsoft ad....
— Raph Pour-Hashemi (@RaphPH) March 15, 2015
— James Britton (@JamesBritton84) March 15, 2015
A piece of me dies inside every time that Clean Bandit Microsoft Cortana advert comes on.
— Jonny Chambers (@imjonnychambers) March 12, 2015
Worst Thing Ever
Of course, the vast majority of people were simply moved to describe just how nakedly appalling the whole enterprise is.
I don't think I have ever seen anything worse than the clean bandit cortana adverts
— robbie (@Robbie_B3) April 3, 2015
The clean bandit cortana advert has got to be the worst thing I've ever experienced
— T L Watkins (@WatkinsAndSons) March 31, 2015
That said though, that cortana x clean bandit ad makes me want to poke my eyes out. It's worse than "practise, protein, practise, protein"
— ZOE LONDON ☮ (@zoelondondj) March 30, 2015
That clean bandit cortana advert is RANCID
— gillby (@gilthomson) March 25, 2015
I finally saw the Clean Bandit / Cortana ad, and now I want to reverse Galactic expansion to before the Big Bang and start all over again.
— Margo Milne (@MargoJMilne) March 25, 2015
Don McLean sang about the day the music died, but he didn’t mention that it would be when Clean Bandit made that Cortana ad.
— Paul Bailey (@paulbailey) March 24, 2015
— Chris Coltrane (@chris_coltrane) March 24, 2015
Hey #Cortana, remind me to shove my head in boiling acid next time that horrific advert with Clean Bandit comes on.
— Ed (@eddo_) March 17, 2015
Surely Microsoft will run out of money soon so they can't afford to make any more Clean Bandit Cortana adverts. Please.
— Steven Pick (@pickassoreborn) March 15, 2015
Those Clean Bandit/Cortana ads are possibly the worst piece of advertising of all time. Fucking terrible.
— Allie Bailey (@AllieBailey) March 14, 2015
"You made me laugh, Cortana!" You made me want to die, @cleanbandit.
— Hiatus (@hiatusmusic) March 14, 2015
That advert with Clean Bandit talking to Cortana makes is wanna crawl in a hole and never come out its that tragic
— J (@sheselectricxox) March 12, 2015