I’ve been hearing from you in your droves. The AdTurds postbag is positively throbbing with anger at the new Halifax Wizard Of Oz advert, CGIing a camp Halifax mortgage chap into The Wizard Of Fucking Oz and abusing its ‘There’s No Place Like Home’ catchphrase like a racist brandishing a Union Flag.
The new Halifax advert seems to have caught people genuinely off-guard. Sure the Top Cat and Flintstones adverts were annoying but I’m not sure there’s quite the emotional connection or sense of desecration. Hacking up The Wizard Of Oz to flog mortgages for the banking equivalent of Home Bargains seems a bit like getting Mary Berry to strut around as a ring girl at Connor McGregor’s next fight.
It’s not news that Halifax adverts are among the worst on television – their record over the last 20 years has been worse than Val Kilmer’s film career. Remember the ones where they ran a radio station (Isa Isa baby)? What about the Halifax choir?
This latest set of children’s entertainment rip-offs seemed to confirm Halifax’s view of itself as the Crazy Gang of the banking sector, but why would anyone want to entrust their money to a zany bank?
Fred Flintstone wants to switch bank accounts. Top Cat can’t get a mortgage anywhere else on the high street. Why? I dunno. Why Harambe? Because we can, seems to be Halifax’s response.
And now we have a Halifax Wizard Of Oz advert, where Dorothy and her unlikely back-up squad. Halifax approves mortgages for tinmen, scarecrows and even lions, apparently, in what appears to be a grossly irresponsible lending policy. No wonder Britain is mortgaged up to the hilt: Halifax has been giving out money hand over fist to fictional characters.
Theis new Halifax Wizard Of Oz Advert doesn’t even make any sense. The Welsh chap representing the bank can’t even approve a mortgage for Dorothy. Oh, I guess there’s a ‘no place like home’ pay-off that just about makes sense of the MGM trappings but fundamentally it’s just another example of nostalgia appropriation by the dead hand of advertisers.
But as yet another childhood-mining advert eviscerates your feel glands I’ve realised something. I don’t much care. Because this is advertising in a nutshell. If you like something and it’s popular and it can be used to encourage you to do something that earns someone else some money, you can bet your bottom dollar – or your bottom for that matter – someone is going to weaponise it and use it against you.
Our key details – age, wage, families – are already known by any business who has a few quid to spare. Business is only going to know more and more about us. Every page you visit on the internet? Logged. Your physical location at any time of the day? Tracked. Your likely voting intentions, biases and fears? Predicted. What you buy at the supermarket? Shared. Sexual orientation, peccadilloes, porn habits? Old news. All of them are up for grabs.
And where might this lead us? Targeted adverts addressing us by name? Talking about our families? Zeroing in on our every insecurity and foible? Think I’m exaggerating? It’s nearly ten years since Nike used an audio recording of Tiger Woods’ dead father whenthe golfer was on the comeback trail, after all.
People are very worried about what information governments hold on them. And that’s not something I take lightly. But have you any idea what Tesco, Amazon or Facebook knows about you? Why don’t we worry about what business knows about us too? And what it might do with that knowledge.
If you thought the Halifax Wizard Of Oz advert was depressing, disrespectful – invasive even – it’s nothing compared to what advertising is going to do with its file on you in years to come.
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…