Let’s get this out the way: I don’t much care for Queen. Radio Ga-Ga, Somebody To Love and Under Pressure can go toe-to-toe with any tune out there, but for my money Queen yo-yos between novelty band and embarrassing Dadrock.
But that doesn’t mean I approve of the ongoing pillaging of the Queen back catalogue by whoever waves a big enough cheque at whoever holds the rights to what’s probably one of the most lucrative bodies of work in Western music. A body of work crammed full of catchy hooks, memorable choruses and quotable lyrics, just waiting for some vast mechanised system to come along and greedily hoover them up and spit them out covered in shit.
In fact – and I’m looking at you Dacia and Flash – it’s one of the most egregious things I can think of. Whenever I see these adverts all I can think of is someone gleefully pissing straight in the faces of the people who love this music: the sort of casual disrespect of someone knocking the heads off your daffodils for shits and giggles.
Just image your favourite band’s music being forcefully taken up the bum without so much as a smear of vaseline, just so some crap car or chemically pap manages to get a single clawhold in your head in the very unlikely chance that you might vaguely considering buying one (or some).
Those songs that make you smile, make you cry. They might remind you of your cherished childhood, of your first (or lost) love. Schooldays, holidays. Maybe a departed friend or relative. Music is a constant companion and the power of a favoured song by a much-loved band can transcend most other experiences in the right place and right time. We celebrate to it; weep to it. It unites us and allows us to tune into a shred empathy more than perhaps any other experience in life. Music is brilliant and it is beautiful.
And then an advertiser comes along, takes that thing that you love and treasure and turns it against you. Not only is that music roughly wrestled from your grasp, it’s perverted and transformed into something awful by advertising. And it’s no mistake. Making you hate these adverts isn’t some unintentional by-product: it’s purely, coldly and cruelly deliberate.
Let’s say you open the door to me. I introduce myself and then hand you a tenner, make my farewell and head off into the night. You’d remember that.
Now image that you open the door to me, I introduce myself to you then slap you in the face. Guess which one you’d find more memorable.
Now – and here’s what the likes of Flash and Dacia are doing in this metaphor – imagine I introduce myself to you then explain that I’ve tattooed Donald Trump’s horrible hate-contorted visage on the face of your partner. Imagine when you ask why I would do such a thing I shrug and say this: “So you’ll never forget the moment when I ruined something you loved forever, just so you’d remember it”.
That’s what Procter & Gamble did when it Oked this Flash advert. And it’s what Renault did when it OKed this Dacia advert. Not because they hate they you, not because they want to ruin music for you.
Because anything and everything that can be used against you – love, hate, fear, insecurity, hope and nostalgia – will be used against you if someone thinks it can be used to sell you something.
I don’t have the words for how utterly abysmal both of these adverts are. They’re so bad I’m sure it can only be deliberate, because the worse they are the more impactful they are. In this way advertising ensures that, sooner or later, all of our treasured music, films, actors and stories will be chewed up and spat out in the hope of ring-fencing a minute speck of your brain so that, the next time you’re in Tesco, some unknown impulse makes you pick up a bottle of chemical detergent and put it into your trolley.
The Worst Adverts of 2016 then. Does anyone care? Among a whole world seemingly collapsing in on itself adverts might seem small beer. But one of my theories about why everything’s going to Hell in a handcart is that we can’t make sense of the world around us.
Fake news, lies and liars are the predominant phenomena of 2016. When we can’t understand what is happening and why it makes sense that idiot certainties have a certain appeal.
There’s lots of blame to apportion here with advertising seemingly a long way down the list. But advertising’s playbook has been ripped off wholesale by politicians in 2016: exaggeration, omission, hyperbole, boastfulness, appeals to instincts and urges – and outright fabrications.
The last ten years of adverts have taught us that people remember stuff they hate – so politicians and newspapers did the obvious thing and told us to hate people, places, things. Thanks for nothing advertising.
In that spirit advertising appears as sinister to me as it ever did. I see no cartoon dogs, friendly celebs and companies who have our best interests at heart. I see the gears of the whole perverted system grinding along, powering the whole sorry affair on and on until we’ve spent every last quid and raped every last natural resource.
I’ve already dealt with the worst things of 2016. In that same spirit here’s the longlist for the worst adverts of 2016. Who will it be? The Admiral? The ‘Fantastic!” Go Compare cabbie? The risible Diet Chef advert? Before we go any further I should probably point out to those of a nervous disposition that James Corden features twice. It’s up to you to choose the absolute nadir at the bottom of the article.
Whoever makes the MoneySupermarket adverts doesn’t seem aware of the fact they stumbled across a winning advert purely by chance. After many years of complete duffers the sight of a man with a magic arse stalking down the road was a rare, vaguely uncanny hit. Like the office dick who has stumbled randomly across a witticism, only to repeat it forevermore, MoneySupermarket persists with these ‘epic something’ ads in much the same way a drunk would return to an empty whiskey bottle. They’re fucking shit, MoneySupermarket, and everyone hates them. #Epicshite
I hate the Pixarification, the Billy Crystal bastardisation of virtually any American animation – and I hate that we’re forced fed this sugary gak because it’s like smack for children. I’d like to crush these dopey, Disneyfied, Yank-ish and wholly unloveable cartoonish pricks in a vice until their delicious, brittle carapaces splinter into a million pieces.
Gaz and Leccy advert
Yes Gaz and Leccy are annoying. They’re from the same kiddified animation playbook and that’s pretty patronising. But I honestly think the thing most people find so infuriating is that it’s such a shit pun. Just like Pan’n’Fern – the hapless women crowbarred into the Planitherm advert – it simply doesn’t work. Gaz, Ok I can just about work with that. But Leccy?
Gaz: Hello, my name is Gaz. I’m some gas.
Leccy. Oh, OK. I’m some electricity.
Gaz: Right, what’s your name then? Tricia? Ric?
Leccy: No my name is… Leccy.
Gaz: Leccy? Your name is Leccy? What’s that short for?
Leccy: It’s short for Electricity.
Gaz: But… that’s not even a name.
Leccy. I know (sobbing). IT’S NOT EVEN A NAME!
If there’s one thing guaranteed to stink like a fart under a duvet it’s bad wordplay. For shame, Smart Energy GB.
Just one tiny example of how misleading people became just another tool in the arsenal of cuntery in 2016 was when Oak Furniture Land got its knuckles rapped for claiming there was no veneer in its products. In fact Oak Furniture Land has made the following claims in its advertising:
“No veneer in ‘ere“;
“100% solid hardwood furniture“;
“All of our cabinet furniture is made from 100% solid hardwood from top to toe; veneer, plywood and chipboard are never used”.
The ASA didn’t agree, saying that some of the material used in Oak Furniture Land products ‘functioned as a veneer’. Which poses rather a problem for Oak Furniture Land, which has been making hay with this message via its two characters which are actually called Oak and Acorn. They really are. I know, I know.
Still, I rather suspect the reason for readers’ annoyance when it comes to these adverts is that they’re fucking enraging in their ubiquity and chirpy soundtrack. As far as their wares go, if you want your home to look like a middling hotel chain that went through an inexpensive refurb five years ago, who am I to judge?
Nationwide Poem Adverts
I have nothing against poetry. It’s not my favourite medium but I’d challenge you to read Houseman, Hughes or Larkin without feeling something stir within you. Great poetry is startlingly beautiful. By the same token bad poetry is as deleterious as it gets. Plonk it unceremoniously in the awkward mouths of street youfs and you have a recipe for disaster. Nothing against Isadora and her poem about keys but Jesus Christ.
Diet Chef advert
An advert so horribly inept it was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority on the basis that it was ‘really fucking rubbish’.
In which ‘insufferable cunt’ James Corden (as described by one AdTurds reader) is amazed when some traffic lights change colour. The fact that the soundtrack to this advert is a song by a man who was killed it a car crash sums up the blithe vacuity of the whole enterprise.
Jacob’s Cracker Crisps advert
Ironic try-hard juxtaposition catastrophe.
AO Talent Show advert
“The votes are in; its not good news” was pretty much the watch-word for the year. But even a world where Donald Trump is President is more attractive that this grisly focus-grouped idea of multinational Brits brought together by a talent show. And then someone throws a chicken on the table, just to communicate that no-one ever had the slightest investment in this crap idea in the first place and random poultry can’t exactly make it any worse.
Flash singing dog advert
Seriously. How long was spent on making this advert? Just in case you’re too busy dry heaving to take any notice, this constitutes the best bits of the lyrics in this advert:
“Where the hell has all the mud gone? I’m sure there was lots of mud. I shook off lots of mud. Where has the mud gone?”
Throw in a CGI dog and Queen’s Flash and you have a pitiful car crash that has forced talented voice actors, CGI renderers and that poor actress into a 30-second criminal act that can only be the result of a game of Cluedo and Bowie songwriting technique unceremoniously buggering one another.
“Err, a dog, some mud, the soundtrack from camp 1908s space opera film Flash Gordon and one of the chessboard rolls of vinyl. What can we do with that?”
The answer is not just one of the worst adverts of the year but a music and lyrical journey only matched in its childish ineptitude by the last Catfish and the Bottlemen album.
One of the worst pieces of music I’ve heard since the last Coldplay album, sung incredibly badly by James Corden, described by one AdTurds reader as an ‘irritating sack of shit’. It’s also worth noting that this advert lamenting the prioritisation of work over family life is promoting Sainsbury’s, whose stores were open on Boxing Day from 9am. How’s that for a modern morality tale?
I know that these luvaduck cor-blimey UKIP-and-fry-up people probably exist, but do we really need them spewing their elongated vowels all over the telly? Why the beatific gurgling noise, as if he’s discharging his dreadful cabbie semen over a Page 3 girl’s tits? It’s clear now that we will never be free of Gio Compario – just like you’re never really free of sensitive skin, bad knees or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Very Not Fantastic.
I don’t know why Andrex keeps ploughing this, er, crevice. A hideous confluence of sickly kid cutesiness and someone asking you how you feel when you wipe your arse. Why does Andrex persist in making us feel nauseous?
Frankly a misfire that is astonishing even for advertising. The Admiral advert is an absolute horrorshow of what happens when something goes wrong and no-one can stop it. (PS. Here’s a bonus AdTurd about The Admiral’s very after-hours encounter with her employee Tom.
It’s very much in keeping with modern times that mortgages are advertised by a stray animal that is famous for living in a bin. Along with the Flintstones efforts – complete with appalling impression – it struck a new low in the best part of two decades worth of truly terrible Halifax adverts.
Vote: Worst Adverts of 2016
Vote for your worst adverts of 2016 here. But think carefully – you can only choose one…