For those of you who are regular readers, keep taking the medication. But thanks for coming back to the site after it was laid low by a malware attack that I eventually traced back to the servers of a shadowy cabal of ad execs who get together once a week to snort coke off the body of a dead hooker.
Anyway, all of that meant that I couldn't do my usual round-up of the year's worst adverts. Which was a shame, but also kinda appropriate. Because I don't think there was a single 'worst advert' last year. Why? Because the worst advert of 2012 wasn't an advert. It was an idea.
This whole site is based on a kinda overplayed hyperbole, which can be roughly - and I hope not entirely accurately - summed up as 'this advert makes me want to kill myself - and other people'. Of course they do no such thing, but many adverts do make me feel annoyed, irritable and a little bit helpless.
And this is the point of the new generation of adverts. Liking these new adverts is no good at all. Being amused by them or finding them cute isn't enough. Being able to ignore them is a disaster. Being angered; being physically affected by these spots isn't just a happy by-product, it's the very raison d'etre: the hot flush of annoyance, the raised heart rate, the merciless vomiting and the Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Just think about that for a while. The point of adverts is to persuade you to do something you might not otherwise do. To part with your money in such a way that benefits someone else. On a personal level this sort of transaction might be represented by asking a friend or family member to loan you a few quid, after buttering them up with a few well-chosen words.
Or head to a job interview and lie about how great you are, all the time smiling, grinning, nodding at the endless bullshit spewing out of everyone's mouths and shaking hands while dying inside. And what if you want to convince your partner to do something they might not do otherwise? Needless to say, chances are you'll do a lot more than shake hands.
This is all part and parcel of the way we lead our lives, as human beings and as animals. It's a basic transaction in life. Heck, if my cat wants something he starts rubbing himself up against me. But imagine if all of these transactions were solicited in another fashion.
I don't buy my mate a pint before asking him if he can advance me £50, I punch him in the face. I don't praise a potential employer's workflow system, I piss in his amusing Simpsons mug. My missus kicks me in the knackers and my cat claws me in the eye.
We wouldn't put up with any of these interactions, let along smilingly hand over our cash, job or bacon rind. Yet that's what we do every day when these 30-second adverts are beamed into our minds with the explicit intention of upsetting us. Where does this end? Unskipabble Confused.com adverts on the start of DVDs? Gio Compario popping up on cinema screens? Rickrolling by Barry Scott?
I don't know, but I do know this. Efforts to piss you off will only increase. And all the technical weapons that are available will be deployed. Email, mobile, behavioural targeting, contextual ads and whatever the current conglomeration of web/streaming/TV and on-demand turns into.
The reason for this is that there are now adverts whose only point is to make you aware of a service. Not like it, not appreciate the quality of it, not have any loyalty towards it – simply know of its existence. It doesn't matter if you hate it; in fact, it's better if you hate it.
This is why the likes of Confused.com can launch stupefyingly bad adverts at us that are both horribly annoying and objectively shite without it making a shred of difference. It's why Go Compare is inflicting some smugly reflexive adverts about its own awfulness on us. And why the meerkat and its spin-offs are everywhere - even breaking out into the real world in the shape of dolls and - for the love of everything that is good - books.
Along with MoneySupermarket, these services are identical. They do exactly the same things, with literally nothing to differentiate on from the other. Coke and Pepsi; Sky and Virgin, Ford and Vauxhall. All of them emphasise why they're different and better than the other. The comparison services do not care about such things. Awareness is the only factor.
This nascent tactic is gaining ground among betting websites, where there is similarly nothing meaningful to separate most companies. PaddyPower has ditched its amusing adverts promoting money-back bets and opted for a dog-whistling adverts that skirt the borders of animal cruelty and various unpleasant bigotries. The Ladbrokes one with the idiotic Chris Kamara (LOL! Legend!) just has a bloke screaming at the TV for most of its duration.
This is because these companies want to be at the forefront of your mind when you make some soul-crushingly banal life decision such as "I'm going to start betting on the internet" - the sort of decision that indicates that you've probably given up on life and settled for a warm, unthreatening existence of DVD box-sets, football, pizzas, wanking on the sofa and worrying about immigration.
Need car insurance? Write down what initially comes into your head. Blocked sink? Inexplicable desire to place a bet on the Stoke / Sunderland game? What did you write? I bet, to your surprise or horror, that you were able to immediately jot down a few brand names you didn't even know were swimming around in your grey matter. Your own personal spam software isn't working anymore - you turned it off without even knowing it.
Advertisers will do anything to get in your head. And your slavery to the television opens the door to them. When idiots complain about the licence fee and profess that the other channels are 'free' just think about this spirit-killing exchange we make in order to get our 'free television'. This is where our witless defence of the right to choose has led us – a cowed acceptance of brainwashing; complicity in our own alienation, exploitation and subjugation. The tyranny of choice has never been so clear.
If the current state of affairs has taught us anything, it's that we can't be trusted to make our own decisions. If you want a vision of the future imagine a stupefied man drowning in pizza boxes, coke cans and Pringles tubes, the reflection of a Confused.com advert dancing in his eyes, forever.
This is the future we've chosen; it's the one we deserve. Happy New Year.
You know when someone says something that's a bit surreal or off-the-wall that kind of has the potential to be funny but falls very flat?
It comes across as just a bit awkward and try-hard – like it was pre-meditated and someone decided that they would say it and it would be hilarious and make out that they were just being spontaneous and wacky?
But it's someone who isn't know for being spontaneous and wacky – it's someone know for being deeply unfunny and even a bit of a knob.
You feel sorry for them, because they're making an effort. Most attempts at humour are really some sort of attempt to ingratiates oneself in a social situation. But when someone tries it an it falls flat it's embarrassing for everyone involved.
You know those moments? The awkward silence? Someone attempting to humour them? Their own obliviousness to the fact that their joke just fell flatter than a whaffer-thin mint?
That's what this Go Compare ad is. And if you missed the reference that's how Go Compare should have done this new twist on the Gio Compario story. Sue Barker blowing him up with a bazooka? Tragically unfunny.
This is a shame, because this new ad starts really well - Gio running over to a couple of singing the 'Go Compare jingle at them. They're disturbed, unsure. There's a ot of comic potential here – but it's all wasted in a kerrayzee (in reality more lame than a John Bishop gag) pay-off that has everyone involved staring at their shoes in shame.
An opportunity missed – and quite possibly the start of a shit new campaign that has Bruce Forsyth, Christine Bleakley and Gary Linekar trying to finish off the fat fuck.
ETA: Now with added Stuart Pearce. Literally everything I wrote above applies to this too.
Funny thing coincidence, eh? On the day when the following search query directed someone to AdTurds:
when are they going to get rid of that annoying go compare advert. it has been driving my wife mad for the last 2 years?
...it was announced that Go Compare is to review its advertising account, quite possibly spelling the end for the fat opera bell-end.
Go Compare has, for me, just become a kind of buzzing noise that is faintly irritating but I've managed to push into my subconscious. Not so AdTurds readers, who are still driven to spitting fury by the seemingly never-ending production line of utterly terrible adverts.
In the face of the seemingly unconquerable meerkat, Confused.com's determination to push the bounds of gynaecology and MoneySupermarket virtually throwing money at people to use its services, time may be called on Gio Compario and his rather boring antics.
Here's what The Drum has to say on the subject:
It is believed that a pitch process is being planned for next month at which three agencies will compete for the work, alongside Go Compare’s own in-house marketing team – which produces the notorious TV ads.
It also suggests that Gio – or, more likely, singer Wynne Evans – is contracted to Go Compare for another year.
So, the question is, can we stomach it for another year? AdTurds readers voted it their least favourite in my wholly scientific price-comparison advert poll last year.
I'd say we were at the end of our collective wicks a long time ago, but I don't think that will affect Go Compare's decision. Go Compare, perhaps more than any other ad, has shown agencies that annoyance is a powerful weapon when it comes to financial services ads. Ads that have nothing more interesting to offer than the unmitigated thrill of typing our personal details into web-page fields that may offer us slightly cheaper home insurance.
What I'm saying here, what I'm getting at is this: Go Compare may not be the end, it may be the beginning.
Another month, another deluge of funny, weird, sexy and scary keywords that AdTurds readers have been typing into their search engines.
The one in the title - Fuck off I'm not talking to rice Uncle Ben - tickled me, but the following one also elicited a giggle too:
does the vw advert really say wouldn't it be nice if we were rover?
It isn't, of course, but the idea of it amused me. I doubt if any car manufacturer in the last 20 years would envy Rover, but the notion of VW putting subliminal messages into its ads, such peculiar ones at that, is an intriguing one.
Elsewhere the guy on the far left of the Halifax choir is upsetting readers - several readers have been upset by him. I've not seen him yet, but I imagine there's already a Facebook page that exists simply to disparage him. He'll probably be making an appearance on here soon, as I suspect I'm going to loathe Halifax's new ads even more than the old ones in the long run.
Paul Whitehouse, Stephen Merchant, Cheryl Baker and Louise Rednknapp were in the firing line this month - I particularly liked 'freddie flintoff morrisons fucking idiot' though.
Already the shortlist for the worst adverts of 2011 article is forming. And what a shitty shortlist it's shaping up to be.
AdTurds October 2011 keywords
oh the hatred i feel for the halifax adverts cannot be put into words - 11 separate instances. I find this hard to believe, but surely Google can't be wrong? According to the Big G 11 different people typed this phrase into their search engine and navigated here
"go compare" "fuck off" - 9 separate instances
confused.com fat black woman - 8 separate instances
stephen merchant is a c*nt - 4 separate instances
anyone else hate that guy in the loreal commercial? - 3 separate instances
fathers made to look stupid - 3 separate instances
fuck off halifax you c*nts! - 3 separate instances
fathers made to look stupid - 3 separate instances, see more on the stupid dad meme
gillette fusion proglide challenge guy is a twat - 3 separate instances
stephen merchant what a fuckin wanker - 3 separate instances
colmans advert disgusting cow - 2 separate instances
fuck off i'm not talking to rice uncle ben
what is the new muller advert about? - not yoghurt, I don't think
"patula" kid can fuck off
...... the confused.com woman keeps pulling stuff out her vadge! seriously.
advert where woman leaves her poop on the table - genuinely don't know what this ad is - anyone?
adverts with bums
adverts with gordon brown
are the 2 girls in the maltesers ad with boyfriends asleep sisters?
are the haribo family a real family
bmw she's a cunt commercial - sounds like a bold new ad strategy for BMW
bt advert - where is the bt womans baby? - good question
can i fuck danni minogue for cash?
chummy mums love fucking
colmans new advert gravy creepy
colmans gravy advert needs to fucking stop
colmans advert for beef gravy is horrible
confused.com advert aimed at homosexuals
do gay people object to the malteasers ad
does anyone else refuse to use go compare simply because they hate the adverts?
does anyone hate the fat fucker from the jacamo advert?
does the vw advert really say wouldn't it be nice if we were rover?
freddie flintoff morrisons fucking idiot
gillette fusion commercial voice over fuck buddy
girl shitting herself outside the palace in halifax
guy on the far left of halifax ad
halifax advert choir bottom left man annoying
halifax advert stupid bloke in choir
halifax adverts make me sick
halifax choir cunts
horrible awful weird money supermarket tv ad gorilla terrible
i hate the new coffee advert don't want to see people fucking on my tv
ive shagged cheryl baker
martine mccutcheons huge fat bum
mignon morceaux phileas fogg m&s - I remember these fried snacks fondly
muller advert what the fuck?
pepsi twist lime urinating analysis - great ad
professional women has a poop accident in her panties
sky broadband is fucking shit crap bullshit stupid
tesco people who are ugly
throwing poo acid advert uk - I refuse to believe there's such an advert
torture tory bing commercial - ditto
volkswagen advert hitler think blue
what advert had a wig attacking people - dunno but I want to see it
what the hell is happening in the new muller advert
who are the 3 men in the eurostar advert - advert win!
who are the tossers in eurostar advert
eurostar ad with jarvis cocker, who are the other two?
who is rod rammage?
who is that silly woman in the iceland ads?
who is the fat thing go compare
why cadbury caramel is better than cadbury crunchie
wispa death pussy images
For the record I doubt very much that Paul Whitehouse learned to tapdance for the sake of a five-second spot in a baffling insurance advert - but who knows eh?
If Aviva's intention with its series of unloved Paul Whitehouse adverts has been to encourage lots of bemused viewers trying to ascertain the twinkle-toed abilities of everyone's favourite cockney comic then it's certainly succeeded.
14 people typed the exact phrase 'can Paul Whitehouse tapdance' into their search engines and navigated to AdTurds last month - and there were plenty more besides. Perhaps a more valuable question may have been 'what does Avivia do again?' because, for the life of me, I can't work it out from their ads.
What else caught my eye among the AdTurds Google Analytics keyword data this month? Well, 'complain about gocompare advert psychological damage' had a certain ring to it. Could we ever see an advertiser sued for just being incredibly bleeding annoying? I'd like to think so - the streets of Soho would be lined with flattened creatives by lunchtime.
BMW's apparently-pulled Lund brothers advert has taken a hell of a lot of stick - I hope the Lunds thought their 12-month loans were worth it.
Elsewhere, someone appears to be of the opinion that the new Haribo advert - sample lyric: "Oh so smooth; love them soft; squidgy, squidy baby!" - is plagiarising John Lennon. This might, on the face of it, seem unlikely - at least to anyone who hasn't heard Double Fantasy.
The Toyota 'gadget master' ad seems to be universally disliked. Despite the fact that I think it's fairly odd - and very niche - I don't mind it, and at least Toyota is trying to lower its target demographic from somewhere around the late-50s at last.
Elsewhere it's the usual roll call of bewilderment, irritation and lust. Who'd have thought Cheryl Baker would have so many admiring fans? Has an advert every inspired such a gamut of negative emotions as the current Haribo effort? Why do so many people have it in for Louise Redknapp?
Tune in next month....
September 2011 keywords
jenson button head and shoulders awful - 23 instances
can paul whitehouse tap dance - 14 instances
gillette fusion proglide challenge guy is a twat - 13 instances
apple adverts patronising
bulmers advert plan b fuck off
compare the meerkat haters
latest haribo advert plagiarism john lennon - no idea on this one
lund brothers bmw twats
paddy power ginger twat
what the fuck is up with the haribo ad? - a heck of a good question
when are they going to get rid of that fat get on the go compare advert
"the jellied eel gazette"
advert where woman leaves her poop on the table
adverts for ants - do any exist?
adverts of haribo are retarted - the irony of this one amused me
anyone noticed confused.com advert is quite sexual? - safe to say they have
big fat pussy cat do in a cadbury egg commercial
bmw advert brothers cunts
bmw what is a latte without milk - a very good question - the Lund brothers don't seem to know
cannon and ball are fucking shit
complain about gocompare advert psychological damage
dishwashing ad where lady is looking at wine glass - there are some queries that stump even Google
gadget master- new toyota advert fucking sucks
gillette advert whooping volume - much too loud, though I'm unable to give a figure in decibels
ginger anger go compare ad
halifax adverts make me want to switch away from halifax - in a nutshell perhaps the whole point of this website
haribo advert very uncomfortable
has anybody got a meerkat from moneysupermarket?
have the breasts in the confused.com advert got larger? - we need to know
i don't get the jenson button head and shoulders advert
i fucking hate the new toyota yaris advert
i fucking hate the new yaris toyota advert
i fucking hate the rap toyota yaris advert
is the uk maltesers advert offensive to gay people
is voyage prive french for stuck up cunt? - I have seen this advert and can only conclude it is, given its contents
jamie oliver advertising basic sausages
lorraine kelly interviews ad star howard brown - now that I know of the existence of this video I MUST see it
my brother freddie is an actor and a model fuck off
paul whitehouse dancing cunt - no manners but what a critic
shouty fucker on t mobile advert
toby carvery stomach cramps
tv adverts with jamie and louise redknapp. as thomas cook promotes family holidays, why does the ad give the impression that they are a couple without children? - why indeed?
who's the lovely girl in the toolstation ad?
why do haribo adverts have germans speaking english
wonga advert is evil - wonga is evil
You know what the ridiculous thing is? Advertising doesn't seem to have much impact on price comparison websites anyway.
This is unpleasantly ironic, as they're routinely the most awful ads on the telly - burrowing into your psyche like the grub of a parasitic wasp sitting in the belly of a paralysed caterpillar, being slowly consumed from the inside out. At least if there was a point to it, it wouldn't seem so utterly ghastly. Well, perhaps.
The thing is though, Gio and Cara and Aleksandr aren't about making you rush over to the PC to rush through some car insurance quotes, they're about embedding that brand, that name, that URL with the promise of cheaper car insurance, which is why there's always a 'dot com' added to the end of every mention of them.
Think of a Russian meerkat - think of car insurance. Think of an annoying fat tenor - think of cheap car insurance. Think of (recently-replaced) Omid Djalili insulting unlikely celebs - think of cheap car insurance. Think of Cara Confused - think of a dating site run by a slack-jawed tramp with an extra-dimensional clunge. Well, three out of four ain't bad eh?
Someone came on the site the other day to tell me how great the ad was and how it was working cos it's so shit, or something. I saw some figures on Brand Republic (AdTurds is still hanging onto its Brand Republic Top 200 blogs position by the skin of its teeth) that suggested the opposite a few weeks ago so I thought I'd have a look at how Confused.com's £25m ad spend has benefited it.
The unfortunate truth is: not. Confused.com remains last or dead last in a PR Week poll of the four main price comparison sites to determine which were the most memorable, easy to use and cheapest in terms of quotes provided - though it's important to determine which is reality and which perception; in the case of the ad it's the latter that counts (for the record MoneySupermarket came on top in each with CompareTheMarket second).
This poses interesting questions for all the featured sites, but it should focus the mind of Confused.com and GoCompare.com most. For my money the latter at least has the advantage of a clear, unified campaign and regularly features in 'most remembered' lists along with the meerkat.
Confused.com doesn't - people think it's a dating site and are distracted by bizarre gynaecological swerves - and it recently got told off for it's misleading and nonsensical '20-million strong' claim. What's more it recently introduced a advert that's just based around reiterating its name - pretty much an admission that your previous wares weren't really doing their job.
What's more a recent interim report from owner Admiral says that turnover is 'flat' and 'margins remain under pressure' - suggesting no upwards movement since they spunked £20m on multimedia campaigns featuring Cara. Operating profit is down following Cara's debut - from £8.8m in H1 of 2010 to 8.2m in H1 of 2011.
It's hard to see how the ad campaign can be judged to have been a success in light of these metrics, though the obvious response from advertisers is that profits and brand penetration would have suffered even more without the exposure. My rejoinder to that would be that, with a better campaign, Confused.com would be doing better than it is at the moment.
Figuring out what makes a better campaign than your existing one is easier said than done, of course, and who's going to critique your latest campaign when your own management and marketing teams came up with it? Short of sacking themselves there's nowhere to go with Confused.com's current advertising strategy - which means they stick with Cara or perform an embarrassing 'mea culpa' and get some people who know what they're doing to do it. Hell, I'll do it for a flat fee of £10,000.
Confused.com had mixed fortunes with previous agencies, and the existence of this blog shows that getting in the so-called experts can have mixed results - but a lot of the evidence suggests that Confused.com may have made a mistake as big as its mascot's vajayjay.
AdTurds' Google Analytics account continues to shine a light into the murkiest corners of readers' minds, so this month I stripped out most of the horrible stuff an included some new trends, stuff that simply made me laugh and some plain weird shit.
Whether or not Jacamo is actually designed for fat men, readers seem to have made up their minds. 31 queries for 'jacamo is for fat bastards' seem to indicate that the debate is over.
Elsewhere lots of people have been typing Jenson Button's bizarre dandruff soliloquy, presumably to find out what the hell he's on about, while the Gillette Fusion Proglide Challenge is, it's fair to say, really getting on people's tits.
Lots of people have bee searching for things relating to Cheryl Baker and Carey Mulligan; things that I most certainly can't furnish them with, though I'm sure there are plenty of places where 'fat lesbians fisting' can be discovered on the world wide web - and probably even 'penis loathing film' come to that, though even the internet might shrug at 'delicious turd cock'.
'Paul Whitehouse what the fuck' is probably something a lot of people have been asking of his Aviva ads the last couple of years, including Paul Whitehouse; Stephen Merchant seems to have had his stock reduced by his own set of annoying adverts (viz 'Stephen Merchant should fuck off and die'); and, as it goes, Nannette Newman is so sexy.
'The Redknapps on holiday' seems to suggest some sort of appalling reality TV show or sitcom coming to Sky 2 very soon.
'Every time i read newspaper the same toothpaste advert plays in background' suggests some sort of problem not even the internet can help with, but I'd be interested to know which brand of toothpaste.
The most worrying phrase this month is almost certainly 'people shitting in chocolate cadburys world'. That sounds like something Roald Dahl might have written in one of his 'Tales From the Unexpected' funks rather than great glass elevator moments.
What I do find interesting is the questions people demand of search engine. The identity of an extra in one ad, the shoes another is wearing, what a character in the Halifax ad is eating. Does anyone, anyone on the face of the planet know the answer to some of these?
My favourite this month? 'what a horrible kid in the vision express ad' - I've not seen the ad in question but I'll be scanning the ad breaks like a hawk from now on.
FInally, one that is actually related to ads, perhaps the motherload of all current shit ads. It kind says it all.
'why can't they bloody bury that go compare advert it's the most annoying advert on the television'.
Hate - Confused.com, Louise Rednknapp, 118 118, Lloyds TSB, Match.com, Go Compare, Halifax
Shit - 118 118, Citroen, Match.com, Pepsi Max
Awful - Fusion Proglide, Cash For Gold, Head and Shoulders, Pepsi, Confused.com, Direct Line, Galaxy
Terrible - 118 118, Spotify, Aviva, Confused.com, Direct Line, Gillette Fusion Proglide
Fuck - Confused.com, BT
Cunt - BT, Confused.com, Gillette Fusion Proglide, Gio Compario, Halifax
Tits - Chetyl Baker and Cara Confused duking it out here
July 2011 AdTurds keywords
jacamo is for fat bastards - 31 examples
"wow it's bracing"
confused.com advert ofsted complaints
gillette fusion proglide advert twat
racing spacing wow its bracing
are just for men commercials deliberately stupid
bank ad campaign: students are wankers
big titted confused.com advert
boots adverts make women look stupid
caneston thrush advert at dinner time
carey mulligan masturbating
cheryl baker sausage
confused.com advert music played at gitmo
cunt from gillette advert
delicious turd cock
every time i read newspaper the same toothpaste advert plays in background
fat lesbians fisting
is there a bigger cunt on tv than the twat in the gillette pro-glide ad
nanette newman so sexy
neville wanless and roger mellie
obnoxious pregnant women
oops-stars.com cheryl baker nipples
paul whitehouse what the fuck
penis loathing film
people shitting in chocolate cadburys world
sainsbury's tomatoes are rubbish
stephen merchant should fuck off and die
stupid little twat from the morrisons advert
suck germaine greer
the people doing cadbury commercials are on some of that good shit
the redknapps on holiday
the sky cricket commentry team are annoying
ugly people in tesco
wanna see the womans tits in the lynx advert
what a horrible kid in the vision express ad
what car does emile heskey have - probably not a Fiat Stilo
what shoes does the man from barclays advert wear?
what the hell is that girl eating in the hsbc advert
whats the deal with that fucking gillette advert?
who is the punk neighbour on the we buy any car advert 2011?
why can't they bloody bury that go compare advert it's the most annoying advert on the television
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.
This is something that turns up quite frequently in reader comments. It implies that because I'm writing about how awful ad advert is, this is somehow a win for the advertiser.
This is, if you think about it, a silly thing to say and a kissing cousin to that old chestnut about bad publicity. Try telling Toyota that there's no such thing as bad publicity following its 'stuck accelerator' trials of last year; or Domino's that there's no such thing as bad publicity after footage of employees putting snot on food hit the web; or Amazon that there's no such thing as bad publicity for delisting gay and lesbian books on its site; or Apple that there's no such thing as bad publicity for a homphobic app available on the iPhone.
It is a silly claim. A-ha, I can hear you say, they weren't adverts though. I don't really think that's the point, but I'll address that one as well. For obvious reasons it's hard to find any hard and fast evidence that advertising negatively impacts on a brand – because only that brand and the people who handle their advertising are likely to have access to it. Don't expect to see any 'advertising fails to sell stuff' papers anytime soon.
However, Yahoo! well and truly shot themselves in the foot with their badly-received Yahoo! - It's You adverts that saw Yahoo! brand recognition go down quicker than a leaden sexual metaphor.
A-ha, you say, the likes of Confused.com and Go Compare and Halifax are deliberately courting bad publicity to etch their brand names on the brains of viewers like grease on a carpet. To some extent this is true and there are a couple of great examples of this on the telly at the moment. The Meerkat and Gio, to my mind.
Subconscious familiarity of a brand is, on balance, probably better than unfamiliarity, especially where these companies - whose offerings are largely indistinguishable - are concerned. But when that perception is overwhelmingly negative, because it's so stupendously, deliberately, irritating, then it's a different matter.
Adopting a similar 'memorable through irritation' approach but failing are, to my mind, the Halifax ads with their cast of radio-bank-wanker characters; and Confused.com with its frightening, bizarre, muddled Cara Confused thing that looks like a crazy tramp who hears voices telling it to set fire to houses and has a magical vagina.
The agency that had the account for Halifax has just been relieved of it; this suggests to me that the bank-as-radio-station series of ads were not deemed a success.
On the Confused.com score I have no evidence. Simply a belief that – as the latest in a long line of bizarre adverts with no overall aim apparent – the Caraoke adverts are flailing around desperately in search of a reason to exist. Thousands of readers on this site think Confused.com has launched a dating site – how can confusing your customers possibly be good for your brand? And how can it good for your brand if you constantly read or hear people loudly, violently decrying it?
Oh, there are stats. Stats about how people wouldn't buy from a brand if they didn't like their spokesman, or about how one third of people wouldn't deal with a brand if they featured an ad that was distasteful. But it's a matter of common sense in the end.
Some ads don't work. We know this because agencies get fired all the time. Why would you fire an agency if your ads were hunky-dory and sales were up as a result?
Some ads don't work in terms of ROI. Sure, sales and awareness might go up if you carpet-bomb TV viewers with your latest appalling meme, spunking cash all over the web and TV and radio. But will they go up in relation to the cash you're spending? There's a stat floating about on the web that says that only 18 per cent of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive return on investment. Less than one in five. That's not a great strike rate.
Some ads are just shit. There are lots of them on this site. Are they a success simply because I'm writing about them? No. Do they offer the advertiser a return on their investment? There's no way we'll ever know. Do people largely hate their adverts and by extension, arguably, their brand? Probably.
People talk about the Halifax adverts. They talk about how shit they are. And the agency that created that campaign is on the way out of the door.
People seem actively angry about Go Compare and Confused.com, but while Gio seems to be quite a marmite character, people seem annoyed and bemused by Cara Confused.
Is there anything worse than being publicly disparaged? Perhaps not being talked about at all, but advertising goes both ways - it can't possibly all be good. If people think your brand is annoying, stupid and confusing the chances are they might simply avoid it. Which is why Confused.com keeps changing its advertising - and why it will probably change it again.
It might sometimes pay to be be annoying.com - it doesn't pay to be confusing.com.
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