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.
The Worst Adverts of 2016
MoneySupermarket EpicDanceOff adverts
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'.
Confused.com Mr Greenlight advert
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.
Sainsbury's Christmas advert
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?
The Just Eat advert is less of an earworm and more of an earparasite. Don't expect to be free of it any time soon.
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...
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. If you think about it that's where lots of people mis-sold unaffordable mortgages pre-crash probably ended up. But I'm in two minds as to whether this Halifax Top Cat advert is intentionally riffing on that idea or not - and whether it's a good thing even if it is intentional.
Halifax has created a bit of a niche for itself over the last 15 years by deliberately undermining the idea of banks as being stuffy and officious. Going right the way back to Howard the dancing manager - via adverts that suggested all the Halifax staff were running radio stations - this is a brand that has been desperately signalling "I'm mad, me" like the office twat laughing at a Crazy Frog ringtone.
But is this Halifax Top Cat Advert really what we want from our banks? Isn't it quite a good idea if you're not perceived as a bunch of wankers in such a financially insecure world? Wouldn't it be better to suggest that Halifax are quite careful about who they lend significant fractions of a million pounds to?
Who knows. These days we seem happy to spunk money left, right and centre and listen to politicians tell us that we can have whatever we want as long as we let businesses dictate the way we live.
I have a bank account with Halifax, because they offered the largest cashback for transferring a bank account. And for no other reason. And the first time I tried to use it - to pay in two £50 notes - I had one of the most surreal experiences of my life. Here's how it went:
AdTurds: Hello, can I pay these £50 in to my account please?
Halifax: No, we can't do that.
AdTurds: Why not? Aren't they legal tender?
Halifax: Yes, but we're not allowed to bank them.
AdTurds: What am I supposed to do with them then?
Halifax: You have to take them to the Bank of England.
AdTurds: The Bank of England... in London?
AdTurds: The Bank of England on Threadneedle Street in London? I have to physically take them there to bank them?
AdTurds: No. There's no way that's true. You must be mistaken.
Halifax: No. You have to take them to the Bank of England.
Halifax: Let me check. There may be a branch in Warrington (checks computer). No, London's the only place you can take them.
AdTurds: Can I speak to someone else? I mean no offence, but you're clearly wrong. I mean, the internet. Telephones. No way do you physically have to transport bank notes to the capital city to be able to bank them.
Halifax: I'm sorry but that's how it is. I can write down the address for you if you want...
And at that point, realising I'd walked into a scary John Carpenter film, I slowly backed away from the counter, wondering if the shutters were going to come down and the Halifax staff would immediately attack me with knives and start feasting on my brains. I went to the bank I've always banked with, NatWest, and asked if I could pay in my fifty quids. Here's what happened:
AdTurds: Can I pay in these £50 notes please?
Not a blink, not an upwards glance, not a beat missed. No 'you have to go to a place 250 miles away at a cost far in excess of the value of these notes'. A simple yes. Perhaps we deserve the services we get. Perhaps if we choose to bank with someone on the basis that they give me a tenner more than someone else I deserve the kind of idiotic advice I got over that fifty quid.
This Halifax Top Cat Advert tells us everything we need to know about our glib, brainless and wilfully idiotic relationship with money. An easy-come-easy-go, on-tick, never-never lifestyle that is our reward for being total dicks with money for the last 30 years. It's a Tory government advert; a Noughties and Tweenies Britain advert; a thoroughly stupid advert that, for some reason, thinks a bad Phil Silvers impression that was originally a parody of an army-set 50s American sitcom is a good framing device for selling mortgages.
Then again, this is a bank that has repeatedly had its knuckles rapped for a variety of issues. Perhaps we really don't care about how badly our banks behave, as long as they package it all up in a stupid advert.
Maybe a mangy conniving cat that lives in a bin and his dimwitted apprentice really are the best mascots for Halifax. A bank apparently run by - and for - stupid people.
Watch: Halifax Top Cat Advert