Is there such thing as a 'favourite price-comparison website advert'? It's a bit like 'favourite dictator' or 'favourite plague-carrying creature' really isn't it? The least of several evils or somesuch.
Still, I was curious as to whether it was possible to create something memorable and reasonably enjoyable - or 'reasonably not irritating' at least - so I created a poll to find out the UK's favourite price-comparison adverts, and form what would almost certainly be the most incisive, wide-ranging, in-depth and analytical, er, analysis of the ads ever prepared - ever.
Something that works for the advertiser and doesn't drive viewers to murderous, visceral hatred. Let's face it, creating a price-comparison advert that doesn't drive people to uncontrolled defecation several times a day is a massive win in these stakes.
With the number of votes nearing 100 I decided that the time was right to analyse the results. Well, that and the fact that I was quickly losing interest in the topic.
I had a feeling one would be way out in front, with the other three rooted to the foot of the table (to borrow a phrase used by every sports commentator when discussing Premiership football), with a sprinkling of 'Fuck you! They all suck!' responses - which are entirely reasonable under the circumstances - fighting it out with Confused.com and Go Compare.
But while I was correct on the first count - there was a runaway winner with over half of the vote - I was surprised that one of the competitors pushed the leader close for a long time before taking second place with almost one third of the total vote.
What does this tell us? Well, firstly it seems to tell us that people are indeed amused by - and fond of - Aleksandr Orlov, the Russian meerkat perpetually frustrated by idiot internetters mistaking his rodent-prostitution website for a price-comparison website.
For what it's worth I think the CompareTheMeerkat adverts are by far the best of the bunch, with a clear message and clarity of brand and purpose. And a neat, amusing pun to boot. Well done to agency VCCP for achieving the seemingly impossible.
Runner-up was Omid Djalili's efforts as Haggle Hero for MoneySupermarket adverts, a bonkers Iranian mithering unlikely celebrities for not trying to get better deals on their insurance.
I found the Nigel Mansell and John Prescott ads pretty good the first couple of times I saw them - the ads settling into a comfortable routine after some initially dubious first efforts - and the fact that Djalili's arrival heralded the departure of that Peter Jones berk and his series of embarrassing ads raises it even higher in my eyes.
As Germaine Greer reportedly said of the Jones adverts: "I thought being rich meant you didn't have to suck that kind of cock." Nice one Germaine.
Third place was taken by Confused.com with its brilliant set of adverts featuring a swivel-eyed bouncing-breasted fruit loop warbling bad karaoke that makes everyone think it's a dating service.
My thoughts are well-documented, but I will recount a conversation I recently had with someone who works at Confused.com - the gist of which is that everyone at Confused.com is well aware of how awful the ads are apart from the marketing department. Make of that what you will.
Second to the bottom were a series of responses that would normally comprise the 'Don't know' option, but in this case comprised a kind of 'Fuck you! They're all shit!' option. Fair enough.
And in last place - somewhat surprisingly to me - was poor old Gio Compario, the fat tenor, who finds himself in a series of unlikely situations singing operatically about price comparison websites.
Sheer overexposure? Is it time to kill off Gio? Hardly - while it's possible to read something into the good results for CompareTheMarket.com and MoneySupermarket.com it's less clear to discern whether people actually dislike the Confused.com or GoCompare.com adverts.
Perhaps they just don't make as much of an impression; perhaps the adverts are disliked, though that doesn't say much of their penetration; perhaps people are overfamiliar with them. And perhaps the people who are more inclined to like it are less likely to stumble across this website and vote for all sorts of reasons. They don't use the computer; they don't search the web; they didn't find this website; they don't search for bad adverts websites; SEO; blindness; mental derangement.
What I'm saying is that this is hardly scientific. Having said that I'm going to pretend it is, because a spot of own-trumpet-blowing never did anyone any harm.
So there you have it. Aleksandr Orlov - aka CompareTheMarket.com/CompareTheMeerkat.com - is the winner. Imagine the CGI meerkat receiving a golden turd mounted on fist with a single, middle, upraised finger. And Djalili getting a silver one. And Cara Confused having her stupid goggle-eyed head cleaved in two by a giant scythe.
And understand that I still hate them all.
As we've already discovered, people think that Confused.com is now some sort of dating site thanks to its latest weird-ass ads featuring a swivel-eyed mentalist thrashing around on the screen.
After the swivel-eyed loonie warbled and wailed its way through Somebody To Love and Chain Reaction, making everybody believe that the price-comparison outfit had ventured into some sort of lonely hearts website for crazy cult members, there's now an advert out trying to reiterate the point that it's actually a website about comparing insurance quotes - something about ten billion miles away from a strange karaoke with a load of weird squiggles bouncing their tits around.
Too little too late? However annoying the meerkat, Go Compare and Moneysupermarket ads are, there's an undoubted clarity of purpose to them. The new Gio-in-space and John Prescott Money Supermarket ads suggest that these memes have a lot further to run, so I thought I'd do a poll to see which are peoples' favourites of the price comparison ad wars.
Vote for your favourite at the bottom. Before you get there, here's a reminder.
Cara Confused thing
See more Confused.com adverts
See more ComparetheMarket adverts
Omid Djalili thing
See more Moneysupermarket adverts
Fat tenor thing
See more Go Compare adverts
Any programme called something like 'advert of the year' is like a red rag to a bull/ Surely very few people actually like adverts? That's why a really good ad sticks in the mind – because normally they're few and far between.
This ITV 'programme' – the inverted commas are a reference to the fact that this barely qualifies as programming; think of it as an extended ad break with some of your most hated people popping up from time to time and you're about right – presumes to tell us what the 20 best ads of 2010 were, according to ITV viewers.
8,000 ITV viewers, so unlikely to include Brian Sewell, Peter Yorke, Adrian Serle and Melvyn Bragg - or many more people who would recognise a pile of nonsense if it slapped them in the face.
2010 was, we're told, an "incredible year for adverts" that we "couldn't wait to tell people about". Apparently they've been "funnier, more inspiring and posed more questions than ever before". If you're anything like me the questions were usually along the lines of "who do I have to talk to to ensure this never happens again?".
These ads "made us go 'aaah'" or "turned back time and made us all think". Oh, they certainly made me think.
Usually I thought bad things, as I've detailed below, along with my thoughts on the actual Ad of the Year programme.
20. Go Compare
By identifying themselves, I fear creators Chris Wilkins and Sian Vickers may have committed a fatal error, if the keyword queries on AdTurds' Google Analytics account are to be believed.
Funnily enough, for two people who have created such unremitting misery, the pair, along with the Welsh bloke who plays Gio Compario, seem like quite pleasant people. Then again, they say Hitler was quit a nice chap in person (Christ, Godwinned myself with the first one).
• See also: Go Compare on AdTurds
19. Virgin Holidays
I'd literally never seen this before, which begs the question as to how ITV viewers held it in such high regard. Were the ITV guinea pigs were given a list of 20 and told to pick them in order?
Only a genuinely annoying advert came below this one, which is about right, as this looks totally forgettable, featuring a band called the Danke Schons (what?) doing a load of tedious old rock cliches; ('with credibility') according to the ad creator.
As a bonus someone called Vicky Binns proves to be an annoying twat, although nowhere near as annoying as a complete bell-end called Joe Cardamone.
Never seen this one either. Something about a big Dorito.
"What sort of a mind would come up with a concept like that?" asks Lorraine Kelly, for whom life must be an absolute ever-day wonder. Someone who'd watched District 9 perhaps?
17. Yeo Valley
Never seen this one. Rapping farmers.
Carlsberg's advert for the World Cup, making jingoism cool again. Thing is, I actually liked this for a while. Until the bit where they rape Bobby Robson's memory. And the bit where it goes a bit racist. Created by a guy who looks like he loves shit lager.
"You almost see [Jeff Stelling] as this pyscho beer-drinking hooligan," says some young twonk of the ad.
• See also: Carlsberg on AdTurds
The fat blokes runs. Quite a pleasant little advert. The bloke shed two stone in a few weeks in the course of making this ad. In the programme he looks like he's piled it all back on quicksmart.
Something about a young girl who likes bread. Never seen it. A bit Grange Hill. Quite pleasant.
13. Stella Artois
The one with the runaway piano. Quite diverting. "All I remember is a hot guy playing a piano," says Suzanne Shaw, showing that it didn't really work on her, and that she's dense.
12. Cadbury's fingers
Chocolate fingers scale Everest; play in band; land on moon. Quite good.
• See also: Caadbury's on AdTurds
Turning Carlisle railway station into something a bit more middle-class is actually quite a nice idea. Sure it's selling MDF and plastic chairs, but things that put a genuine smile on people's faces are so few and far between these days I didn't mind.
"What would happen if we put 100 cats in an Ikea store," is the stunning thunderbolt that brought this ad into reality. Being a cat owner, I could provide a fairly short list, with the word 'piss' featuring quite highly.
Since I own a cat, however, I quite like this.
This ad for the Audi R8 Spyder, featuring a load of cars on an ice rink, is a bit of cracker, like many Audi ads.
Having said that, I doubt it was the best car ad of 2010, nevermind one of the best ads of the year. Still, lovely to see the old cars, lovely concept, great execution.
Walkers turn Sandwich into a UK version of Westworld, but with celebrities. About the same amount of plastic though. Quite a nice idea, but I couldn't give a fuck about this.
7. Peter Kay - John Smiths
Meh. Not bad, but Kay is so overexposed and carries with him a reputation for nastiness that the new John Smiths ads simply don't have the same charm these days.
Skater babies. Fucking horrible. Aimed at every lobotomised coo-ing woman that thinks anything to do with babies is brilliant.
The bit where the babies skate towards the fence and jump at it will have me waking up, screaming and sweating, for weeks to come.
Frankly the whole thing looks astonishingly twee, deeply wrong and overwhelmingly disturbing.
Obviously overexposed, but I find the meerkat adverts quite diverting. AdTurds fact: Aleksandr Orlov is voiced by the geordie bloke from Alan Partridge.
4. John Lewis
"It captured the nation's imagination and emotion," says some woman about this John Lewis advert, which made us all cry, apparently.
This is the sort of advert that only affects people who aren't really in touch with their own emotions; the sort of people who might not be able to relate to such complex emotions as 'sadness' or 'happiness' without being told what they mean by a fucking advert.
Lorraine Kelly and some other talking heads discuss this advert, which I didn't really like, as if it were Shakespeare, Voltaire and Chekhov all rolled into one. It's actually Dan Brown.
• See also: John Lewis on AdTurds
3. PG Tips
Johnny Vegas and Monkey. Genuinely amusing, likeable, comforting. Nothing bad to say about these.
A rollercoaster that goes wherever you want it to – to work and back, through the shops, and past the windows of naked fitties (especially one that enjoy being perved over) – is a lovely idea. But that's as far as this advert goes.
Because there's nothing especially winning about this advert, especially in relation to what it's selling. I just don't see how it fits together. It doesn't make me think of Barclays. It doesn't make me think of money. It just makes me think, a little bit, about rollercoasters. And then I do something else.
Lorraine Kelly wonders how they made the advert. Christ.
The dog does funny things. Quite diverting. No idea what the ad is saying or the product is.
Critical faculties left at the door. Some of the dumbest talking heads on bodies that are actually still alive. Mainly-charmless ad types discussing tedious details from adverts. Many poor ads.
The televisual equivalent of doping yourself up on tranquilizers and slowly drowning in a bath of Ovaltine while Lorraine Kelly and Ben Shephard coo comforting platitudes into your ears.
There really are some awful PR pitches out there, with the rush to utilise aspects of social media into ad campaigns resulting in some pretty horrible creations.
And this. This is the Daddy of them all. I don't really think that many PRs or journos or marketers really understand social media, or at least how best to utilise it. This is a perfect illustration.
The power of social media is in creating something of value that has the potential to zip around the web across multiple platforms. If you do this well then members of Joe Public will do the work for you.
I don't have any inside information, but I'm willing to bet that CompareTheMarket.com has done pretty bloody well out of the CompareTheMeerkat.com campaign. It's captured imaginations, is fluffy and potentially amusing. It's perfect for social media platforms.
These Josh T-Mobile ads have not, because its fundamentally a pretty uninspired idea that smacks of lots of other bits and bobs out there at the moment.
'Create a band by roaming around the country holding jamming sessions with oddballs' is a cracking pitch only in the mind of an ad exec (and are all of those people on the bus really Josh fans, rather than paid-for actors and musicians?).
And if it were to ever take off it would only be due to the magnetic personality and shimmering talent of the individual fronting it.
Josh is not this person and, while probably a decent chap, cannot carry a massive multi-platform campaign on his thin, backpacking-around-India-during-a-gap-year shoulders and weedy one world wifflings.
Chuck in some awkward elements where Josh is required to suck some corporate cock in the form of some ill-fitting soundbites about how great T-Mobile is and the final nail in the coffin is hammered home.
I've said before that I don't object in principle to stuff like this, but when it's backed by a massive corporate outfit it's never possible to see past the real reason it exists in the first place.
And that's enough to turn it from something twee and rather nauseating into something genuinely awful.
Confused.com is a suitable name in that it describes the company in question's current advertising strategy. It wasn't five minutes ago that they'd ditched the cheap and cheesy approach and as Robin previously noted, settled on friendliness, reliability and ease as the key values they were attempting to get across.
ling (and clever) rival campaign from CompareTheMarket.com, which stars an amusing Russian meerkat called Alexandr, a rushed new advert from Confused.com has been cobbled together starring a disgusting rubber thing called Confucius. (I'm assuming this name is a stab at a pun on the word "Confused" but who's to say.)
It's becoming obvious that Confused.com is a fundamentally rubbish name for a mature price comparison website. It certainly seems like they're struggling with anything approaching a coherent brand identity and are lumbering from one daft idea to the next as they attempt to escape the tedious "bloke pulling his hair out" motif of yesteryear.
As to the content of the advert, you'll notice Confucius can barely move his mouth and is thus perhaps not the ideal brand ambassador. He looks in pain and isn't funny. They've got him reading a magazine called What PowerBoat, presumably to convey some kind of wackiness. And his way of speaking sounds like someone doing a really poor Yoda impression.
All in all, not entirely a success.
There comes a time in every thrusting new internet start-up's life when it has do ditch its desperate, cheap, attention-grabbing campaign and rebrand itself as warm, cosy, non-threatening and decidedly middle-class.
This means that its ads go from the television equivalent of someone slamming a can of tizer in your face before spraying its contents into your eyes, to a cup of unpleasantly milky and sugary tea – not as immediately annoying but guaranteed to have you feeling decidedly queasy after a time.
This brings me to Confused.com's new friendlyeasywelcoming adverts, which evince a definite effort to position the company as a non-threatening mainstream brand.
This means lots of normal-looking people talking about how friendlyeasywelcoming the new site is, as if anyone really looks at a website and bases their judgement on its quality by how 'friendly' it looks. The BBC has a long way to go by this standard.
"Oh, it's recording!" is how things kick off, with a young man with an emo haircut feigning surprise that his camcorder is working. This, apparently, is AmazingPhil. AmazingPhil has a successful Youtube channel where he talks about his life.
This means that there isn't really any attempt on the part of Confused.com to pretend that these are actual customers. Phil bookends the advert by the drawing a smiley face on his hand and making a 'ta-da' noise. He may not be a complete prick, but that's certainly the impression given by the advert.
Elsewhere in the ad a variety of target demographics repeat words discovered by a focus group to be important to people searching for car insurance comparison sites on the internet, hence friendlyeasywelcoming. The overall effect is like drowning in Horlicks. Tellingly Confused.com has disabled ratings on its Youtube video.
Unfortunately while Confused.com, GoCompare.com and MoneySupermarket.com have all gone for the same approach, ComparetheMarket.com has thrown a massive spanner into the works by creating a campaign that is both funny and memorable in their CompareTheMeerkat.com ads, blowing the others out of the water.
Confused.com has immediately responded with an unfunny new advert featuring a small blob of rubber called Confucius. It's a weak comeback when faced with Aleksandr the Meerkat, but it doesn't make me want to kill AmazingPhil.