Have you ever noticed how few black people there are in Christmas adverts? Or Oriental or Asian?
I'm guessing that different racial demographics are a lot less valuable to the Christmas Cash Climax that this time of the years represents, with WASPs more likely to actually indulge in this celebration of the market economy, but once you've noticed it, it's hard to un-notice.
For all that the media is reasonably heterogeneous these days it's as if everyone closes ranks at Christmas. Look at the smiling white extended-family faces. You don't see many people in wheelchairs, fellas kissing one another, black families pulling crackers or Muslims, well, doing whatever it is that Muslims do on Christmas Day.
Not that this is a call for a token black face amid the sea of caucasians all over the airwaves - that would be almost as insulting. But a Christmas advert featuring only a black family seems unthinkable. As does the cold hard reality of what Christmas is for a lot of people - and sorry to be such a miserable fucker at this point - a lonely time.
Here's one that would take some real fucking balls - and guarantee my loyalty for many years to come. Instead of jizzing all of that cash on some hungry celebrities I'm calling out the supermarkets: Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Morrisons, Marksies. The lot of 'em.
Here's what you do with that cash. You take over a nice hotel in 30 towns and cities around the country. You use your own produce - the nice stuff, the free-range stuff, the expensive stuff - and cook a Christmas dinner for the local Salvation Army patrons. Homeless types, kids on the street, care home people, the elderly, George Entwistle; people like that. Roast turkey, some live entertainment, loads of booze, some crakcers, a few gifts and transport there and back.
What's the cost of that? Even if it were thirty grand a pop you're still quids in. And imagine all that lovely publicity. That's 2013's advert sorted - and a smile on the faces of thousands of people who might not have much reason to crack a grin. And, perhaps more to the point, we don't have suffer your annual smugathons that are as hard to digest as a three-day turkey-and-stuffing sarnie.
Go on, British supermarkets, do it. I challenge you. I dare you.
OK, on that bombshell I'm going to round up this Xmas ads from this year. If last year's Xmas ads are anything to go by it won't be pretty...
Alien sperms continue to swim around our television screens, like the smeary laptop screen of a man who knows the names of all his favourite porn stars and sends them a picture of his cock in the post every Yuletide.
I don't know why Argos is continuing to plough this furrow - to justify the hefty wodges of cash that have been already sunk into the concept presumably - but this seems to be a stinker on all levels.
It's annoying, it's bemusing, I don't see how it connects with the brand (perhaps, once, there was an idea that aliens would take to the 'wrong-way-round' Argos shopping experience, or something) and it feels well past its sell-by-date.
But, more to the point, it's trying to make a virtue of something that isn't particularly helpful. Surely the whole attraction of shopping online is that it's then delivered to your door at no extra cost? If you have to order online, not necessarily easy in the first place, and then physically go to an Argos store anyway what's the sodding point?
What's more, Argos' thing is that you have to look through a catalogue to find what you want, fill out a little form and then take it to the desk. It's that classic thing of making a virtue out of something that, on the face of it, is actually harder than the usual system (see also: Salt And Shake crisps).
But the Argos online shopping app removes that whole exchange. So not only is the online shopping thing not especially helpful, it also invalidates the whole point of Argos.
With this ad, Argos has just ejaculated in its own face.
Times worse than my charitable Christmas advert idea: 30
So far all I can find online is this effort from Tesco, which involved a Furbie and Lionel Richie (and doesn't that sound like a great internet rumour?).
I have seen a few other Tesco ads that end with a little Christmas hat perched jauntily on the Tesco logo, so I guess this is part of a multi-ad approach that eschews any big central campaign and will offer little snippets of deals, particular products and the like.
As such it doesn't give me a lot to get my teeth into, but I like the fact that the whole campaign isn't resting on some cash-splashing jamboree. But it's not especially memorable either, despite the nifty visual gag.
Tesco calls this advert 'Christmas 2012 Clubcard Exchange advert'. Yeah, and a Happy New BOGOF to you too.
Times worse than my charitable Christmas advert idea: 3
Iceland went a bit off the rails the last two years in its Christmas advertising: in 2010 suggesting some sort of chavvy David Lynch horror festival; last year assaulting us with Stacey Solomon's ginormous face.
I think Iceland has a problem - people think it's cheap: the food is cheap, the people who go there are poor; the brand is toxic. Just yesterday someone told me that they would 'never go into Iceland'. They've only got themselves to blame - for several years the brand has aligned itself with people who scream 'low-rent' - and thus its brand has acquired the same image.
As someone who writes about cars for a living I can tell you at length why being thought of as cheap is dangerous. To be thought of as offering good value, on the other hand, is very different. It's a subtle difference - ultimately a meaningless one - but one that brands get wrong time and again.
However - and this is a big however - this new ad from Iceland might just go some way to changing all that. This Xmas ad looks lovely, it puts product right at the heart of the ad and it's got one of the most calming, sentimentally satisfying noises ever accompanying it.
Pretty much a home-run. And not a hideous celebrity in sight. If there had been one this year my money was on Tulisa - as someone who's probably been seen by many slapping a cock across her own face she probably wouldn't have been the worst celeb Iceland had employed.
Times worse than my charitable Christmas advert idea: 1.1
A new entry - I don't remember seeing any Debenhams ads for a long time. As a new effort it's not bad, but it's very much a greatest hits of successful Xmas ad tropes. A nice train, snow, a glamourous lady running hither and thither and being delighted by what she sees...
At one point it threatens to go a bit Boots, with three women stalking rather jarringly - look at the costumes! - down a flight of stairs and the big John Lewis-style 'awwww' moment at the end.
Inoffensive - and a bit hard to remember who it's for. Which is fairly appropriate as I'd struggle to tell you what sets Debenhams apart from any other department store.
Times worse than my charitable Christmas advert idea: 2
Christmas adverts go austerity. This year we've spent all our cash on a donation to charity, says a voiceover. As if the mink-and-ermined Waitrose customers give a stuff.
I also have a feeling that there's something a bit disingenuous about all this - how much did it cost to buy up all the ad space to tell us you're not spending any cash on a fancy Xmas ad, eh, Waitrose?
Still, one in the eye for all the others who've spunked up a load of cash on celebs and a frankly insane amount of Christmassy milieu. And it's not far off my idea for 2013 - but this doesn't mean you're off the hook, Waitrose. Oh, no...
Times worse than my charitable Christmas advert idea: 2.5
Times worse than my charitable Christmas advert idea: ∞
There are certain groups you can't possibly criticise these days. The Armed Forces, for example - rebranded as 'Heroes' in our modern parlance, seem to be utterly beyond reproach. I've got a lot of time for people whose chosen career paths have taken them into the army, navy or airforce, but I don't think it especially good for society that anyone is untouchable.
But woebetide anyone who has a pop at Mums. This previously-unknown phenomenon in society - actual people who you might pass in the street or live next door to, who have little people inside them and then 'give birth' to those tiny creatures - is now the most exalted in every facet of life.
See how they use their reproductive organs to conceive and then gestate foetuses who grow inside them for nine months before emerging in a bloody, slimey curtain to the spontaneous applause of everyone within a mile's radius.
The ability to fulfill one's sexual facilities seems to be on a par with parting the red sea these days. But there's more. Once they've had these wailing mucal balls extracted from them, these women actually return to work and even go shopping.
If I had my way, we would not rest until every photo posted to Facebook was of a unfocussed child frowning vaguely in the direction of a camera. Everyone who has ever brought a child into the world must be given an OBE. I demand a new Minister for Motherhood and that we replace Nelson atop his tower with a 40-tonne tribute to MumsNet.
Or we could just watch this fucking Christmassy Asda advert. For fuck's sake.
Times worse than my charitable Christmas advert idea: 23
Toys R Us
I can't tell if the people who do the adverts for Toys R Us are secretly setting us up for some sort of glorious return to the days of a smiling giraffe pointing at Connect 4, or whether they're just complete imbeciles.
Because this sexed-up ad for Toys R Us is like asking Dappy to give the New Year's Day message instead of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
A happy-slapping in advert form. Get rid of it, for the love of Geoffrey.
Times worse than my charitable Christmas advert idea: 42
We all know the form by now. An effort that is fairly explicitly trying to make you cry. A precision-guided Cupid's Arrow aiming to shatter your emotional aorta and cause a blockage of sludgey mawk in your left ventricle. A psychological heart attack in advert form.
In this one a snowman - bereft of a comedic genital carrot and possibly related to the Weeping Angels as no-one ever seems to see it move - fetches some gloves for his missus (also a snowperson, but with no snowtits in evidence), requiring a massive trek across, apparently, a bit of England that resembles the Alps.
Next year will be Barber's Adagio For Strings as a series of rostrum-camera'd sepia photos of beloved personalities who have passed away (Tommy Cooper, Eric Morecambe, the Dad's Army cast etc) ticks over in a starlit sky above a donkey sanctuary.
Times worse than my charitable Christmas advert idea: 8
Marks & Spencer
Blergh. Back to middle-class women dancing around like people who are so smug even Ian Hislop thinks it's a bit much. The 'stalking-towards-the-camera' meme, the dicking-about-in-jim-jams stuff, the endless smiling...
There's a half-hearted effort to make it a bit less Surrey-Commuter-Belt-ABC1s with some INXS in there, but really this is Marks and Spencer by the numbers. And those numbers are £39.99 for a scarf you know your Mam secretly dislikes.
Times worse than my charitable Christmas advert idea: 9
I suppose we should be grateful we're not getting the rat-a-tat-tat of Here Come the Fucking Girls again, but Boot's mission to align Christmas and your feelings for your loved ones with hairdryers strikes me as a tough sell.
There are some non-white faces here portrayed in a way that feels natural, so bonus points for that, but there are also a few odd things going on here.
Is the Mum who's in bed at first suffering from some debilitating ailment - is there a suggestion of a disease in remission here? And is the girl who suggests checking into a hotel naked? I'm genuinely not sure. If so, why? If not, then why does it look like they are?
All told, though, I think this is the Christmas advert I dislike the least.
Times worse than my charitable Christmas advert idea: 1.08
With a voiceover so earnest, it makes Kevin Whately talking about African children dying of dysentery sound like a Top 40 chart rundown, this Matalan ad is going for broke in pretending that it gives a fig about its customers' enjoyment of Christmas.
Frankly, I don't believe these massive multi-million quid corporations telling me they love me - and neither should you. So the whole ad is undermined by the transparency of the exchange between customer and vendor.
Matalan, you want my money, not my approval. Don't pretend otherwise - we'll get together a lot better. As it is, you're unlikely to earn neither this festive season.
Times worse than my charitable Christmas advert idea: 11
First things first. Having attempted to do away with Santa in its ad last year, suggesting that a 'lovely muvva' was responsible for all the Christmas shopping, the very first shot is of Saint Nick pulling up on a sleigh this year.
A wise move, I'd suggest, not because I really give a toss about whether children believe in a mythical being or not (see how easy it would be to include a smug Dawkins-esque rant here?) but because the naked commercialisation of young kids was one of the most egregious things I'd ever seen.
Still, Littlewoods is at it again here. Is that a mobile phone that some kids have bought AJ's Mum? Yes it is. How fucking lovely. A phone. I know this is a judgement call, but I don't find anything cute about shoehorning little kids into ads; I find it obnoxious.
What's more, Myleene Klass (it's worth pointing out that she's one of only three identifiable front-of-camera slebs on this year's lot), who I have no particular beef with, seems to have acquired that skeletal hawkish look that 30-something celebs on fad diets assume with the passage of time. To be quite honest, I think it makes her look a bit frightening. Have a few goose-fat-roasted-spuds this Xmas, Myleene.
An attempt to rein in the hideousness of last year's effort then. But there's still something a bit grasping about the whole thing; as if the very thing veneer over the it that could be peeled back to see a call-centre, a distribution depot, a foreign factory...
Times worse than my charitable Christmas advert idea: 9
Woah, and you thought the Asda advert was bad. It would be easy to start crying sexism at this ad - and I don't doubt that many have already. Whether this is patronising to women or men, or whether you see this as a fairly realistic portrayal of what it is to be a woman at this time of year probably depends on your point of view.
I'm going to steer clear of all that stuff - I can see both sides - but I do think this is a bad advert. For fully 86 seconds of the 90 this Morrisons advert consists of, it's slating Christmas. Does the pay-off haul it back over the line? I'm not that sure it does, you know.
So, then, Christmas. An utter ballache, with a side-serving of chauvinism. Sheesh, where's that eggnog?
Times worse than my charitable Christmas advert idea: 5
AdTurds was three recently, so I thought I'd better mark the occasion. I thought about mocking up an award of an actual turd - yer genuine Dirty Fido - and sticking it on a plinth, then going to the headquarters of not just the creative agencies but the companies in question and presenting them there.
Then I realised I didn't have the time, money, inclination or Channel 4 camera crew - to follow me around filming me failing to gain access to even the lift of those outfits before being ejected by security - to make such an endeavour worthwhile.
So I created an overview of the worst adverts that have been on the television since AdTurds hit the web. The ones that infuriate me; the ones I think are kinda despicable; the ones I simply think are total shit.
These are they. Feel free to add any you think I've missed. But they must be the absolute nadir. The ones that have you reaching for the remote, for ear plugs, for that loaded Smith and Wesson you just know is in your desk upstairs, next to the half-empty bottle of scotch...
The motherload. A series of adverts pulling every trick out of the bag - including what appears to be sexual molestation in its most recent ad - to make you sad, angry or possibly even dead.
The CIA used to blast horrible noises - rabbits being tortured and the like - at South American socialists; understanding that hideous, repetitive noises can be useful in driving people legitimately out of their minds.
It revived that trick when torturing Guantanamo detainees, using a mindless nursery rhyme to send prisoners round the bend until they started babbling a load of made-up nonsense just to make it stop.
That's what Confused.com does with its adverts. Only there is no end to it. If you use their service the adverts do not stop. Imagine being tortured. Imagine that, in an effort to make the torture stop you complied with the wishes of those inflicting pain on you. And then imagine that they keep torturing you anyway.
That's what Confused.com does with its adverts. They may be non-lethal weapons. But have you ever taken a Taser hit? They're non-lethal too.
Read the collected Confused.com AdTurds
The original in the mind-drilling adverts that have exploded over the last ten years. Barry Scott. What a cunt.
Read the original Cillit Bang AdTurds
We Buy Any Car
Needless to say, this is an advert on a parallel with a binbag full of festering food remains and cat litter tray content bursting all over your freshly hoovered and washed kitchen floor. Then you fall over in the shit, get some in your eyes and mouth; stand up; slip on it again; bash your head on the corner of a work surface and die.
It's all of that. But I think it's how awful WeBuyAnyCar is in other respects that elevates it so:
Read the original WeBuyAnyCar AdTurd
Duffy Coke ad
An advert so ill-conceived, so smug, so meaningless and so utterly dire that it killed Duffy's career stone dead.
In fact it was so bad that the fallout also killed Keith Duffy's career stone dead - and he had nothing to do with it.
Read the original Duffy Coke AdTurd
Try-hard stupidity tooth-rot misadventure.
BMW has a little bit of a brand problem - the public think they're cars bought by dicks. And while that may not be true it's not something you want to court. Why, then, show off two people who seem photo-fit descriptions of the word 'dick', smugging on about their brilliant lives?
A quite astonishing brand misfire.
Read the original BMW Lunds AdTurd
Bad for a long, long time now - but who was your least favourite front person? Katona? Biggins? Donovan? Or Stacey Solomabs (as she's know by several AdTurds readers)?
For me Donovan was the front-man for the most offensive of the lot - an insane trip-fuelled odyssey through a nightmarish Lynchian world that provided an insight into what it might be like to experience a particularly vicious acid-induced mania. Genuinely hellish.
Read the original Iceland / Donovan AdTurd
Kris Marshall never seemed a particularly charming feller to me - before the BT adverts he was chiefly known as a man who played an absolute bell-end in vile sitcom My Family. So, what better person to front your new, decades-long TV ad campaign?
Not only is the unlovely Marshall fronting these ads - he's pitched into a baffling, awkward step-family situation that someone at an ad agency obviously thought would be a neat reaction to the decline of the nuclear family. The end result is an advert that even nuns despise.
Read the original BT AdTurd
This is another company that I have a beef with, for what it does as well as how awful its adverts are. Hyper superannuated LOL! puppets playing techno and saying stupid things go some way to highlighting Wonga's target demographic.
Depressing all round.
Read the original Wonga.com AdTurd
Fuck off you knob-ends.
Read the original British Airways AdTurds
Has anyone, anywhere ever welcomed someone noisily and aggressively interrupting a quiet moment that requires some level of concentration? The shock itself of a sudden loud noise, coupled with a group of people rushing towards you is enough to drive one to unthinking violence. But then it gets far worse - a little turd starts patronising you about your grooming rituals.
I'd like to see other private moments interrupted in this way in adverts. Perhaps someone on the bog, cracking one out in a shower - or balls deep in the missus perhaps?
"Woo! Hello buddy - how's your sex? Have you heard of Yorkshire Tea?"
Read the original Gillette Proglide AdTurd
It might be because Barclays spends so much time on making its rich clients even richer by locating arcane and unlikely tax loopholes that mean these people - people who have so much cash they literally shit it - can avoid paying taxes. Taxes spent on things like, oh, the NHS, schools and Portcullis House fig trees.
But it could also be these adverts, voiced by Stephen Merchant, that have been making people groan with the sort of nausea one associates with a migraine. The unwelcome, undeserved smugness of someone who doesn't know everyone hates them - precisely for being smug.
Read the original Barclays / Merchant AdTurd
The mullet, the shouting, the grin. Someone is going to Hell for this - with any luck the bloke in the adverts.
Read the original Safestyle AdTurd
Cut almost from the same cloth is VanCompare's pitiful effort from a couple of years ago - the original write-up of which resulted in a torrent of hilarious abuse from idiot Sweet fans.
I made it up with VanCompare's CEO in the end - but this effort featuring The Sweet's Andy Scott remains possibly the most inept advert to grace TV screens for some decades.
Read the original VanCompare AdTurd
Halifax has been annoying you for at least ten years now, first with its idiotic staff karaoke, then with its quite hideous radio station series.
Halifax has dialled it back to a mere ten from that high point, but its choir adverts remain a thorn in the side of any sane TV viewers.
NB. This advert - of all the adverts on this site - is the one most frequently associated with the word 'kill' in comments and search queries.
Read the original Halifax Isa Isa Baby AdTurd
In the same way that air-raid sirens once signalled imminent disaster, the rat-a-tat-tat beat of Here Come The Girls now heralds one of the most debilitating series of adverts to ever grace television. Stick on a tin hat, head down to the Anderson shelter and await faceless death from above.
Watch the original Boots AdTurd
Killing Santa and replacing him with a credit card. Genuinely nasty.
Now give me your worst adverts of all time
Time was we'd judge the start of the Christmas season by the appearance of crackers in shops; nowadays it's the appearance of the first Christmas adverts.
With fully 50 days before 2011's Yuletide there were Christmas adverts on our tellies; filmed in the unseasonally pleasant September and October across the country. Freddie Flintoff in a duffel coat, surrounded by fake snow, santas and mince pies. In St Albans. In September.
So, what festive delights await us this year? M+S had ditched Twiggy and Danni; the Sainsburys ad constitutes Jamie Oliver's swansong; what would John Lewis come up with this time?
Absurdly, Xmas adverts for the big supermarkets and department stores have become event television. But how big - and shit - have these events been this year?
By my money they've mainly got it right. Iceland has backed away from the insanity of last year's Donovan adverts; Marksies has ditched its middle-class smugathons; the overall tone is of restraint, when compared to last year anyway.
It's not all good. The Boots girls are still coming - perhaps due to the entry of Ann Summers into our advert marketplace - and there are still two truly diabolical efforts here.
Familiarity - and you can bet you'll become very familiar with these ads - is sure to breed contempt, even fury. By the fifth time you've seen the new Littlewoods or Toys R Us ads you'll be ready to hurl your chestnuts at the telly.
But with any luck this year's crop of Christmassy ads should leave you relatively unmolested come Christmas morning. Just pray no-one has a Halfords-style reaction when unwrapping presents.
It seems to be John Lewis' modus operandi to make viewers cry these days, with their ads ploughing a fairly shameless furrow that seems to work for them.
I think the strategy pretty canny. It's a rich seam of nostalgia, sentimentality and general warm fuzziness - all the stuff that makes Christmas what it is.
Next year's advert will apparently feature a sickly kitten being stroked in front of an open fire by Terry Wogan for a full 120 seconds, while Gary Jules' Mad World plays in the background.
Turd rating: One
Celebrities: Jamie Oliver
"Goto Sainsbury's for a magical Christmas feast," says this last effort from Jamie Oliver on behalf of the upmarket supermarket.
Nice idea, nice execution. Minimum Oliver. Good work.
Turd rating: One and a half
Celebs: Stacey Solomon
Where was there to go after last year's Xmas Iceland offering, featuring Jason Donovan as a perverted ringmaster? Well, back to basics really. Christmas parties, finger food, Stacey Solomon's enormous face - I'm fairly unsure Stacey and her family will be tucking into gammon over Xmas, mind.
I take exception to the horrible new Solomonised recording of Driving Home For Christmas - a song I always make sure I have on a CD when actually heading home on Christmas Eve.
Not especially egregious then - and a thankful step back from the Lynchian horror of last year - but I doubt any celebrity would ever be seen dead entering Iceland, which seems to be ever closer to some sort of underclass shopping experience every time I hazard upon one.
Turd rating: Two
Celebs: Delia Smith, Heston Blumenthal
I'm a bit nonplussed by this one, featuring Delia and Heston. It hinges everything on four distinct products and doesn't really compel me to find out more.
It looks a million bucks - a bit Downton Manor via Heath Robinson and Tim Burton - but it doesn't feel especially cosy.
A bit chilly, all told, like a Heston artichoke and air-dried Haribo truffle in liquid nitrogen.
Turd rating: Two
Celebs: Andrew Flintoff, Bruce Forsyth
Hmm. Jury's still out on this one. I suppose Freddie still has enough goodwill from the Ashes in 2005 and 2009 to get away with this - and some good decent, honest, thick Lancashire shtick probably doesn't do any harm, although it's a bit much that they actually correct Flintoff's awkward delivery.
Nice cameo from Brucey at the end and a fairly strong message - Freddie like pies! Legend! Meat! Christmas! Pastry! Brulliant! - unlike many of the ads featured here.
Turd rating: Two
Marks and Spencer
Celebs: X-Factor cannon fodder
It's fairly apparent that M+S and John Lewis are competing to be the winterval shopping experience and Marksies has really wheeled out the big guns for this X-mas effort.
Riding the X-Factor bandwagon has brought its own problems that rather trouble me (the singers either got a paltry £3K each or nothing, depending on who you listen to - Merry F'ing Xmas) but as an ad in itself it's well executed and reasonably inoffensive.
I just find it hard to shake the feeling that we're all implicit in an evil plan to make berks like Simon Cowell even more filthy rich than they are already. From somewhere in Brighton comes the sounds of Johnnie Robinson gently weeping.
Turd rating: Three
Celebs: None that I'm aware of
A novel, decent conceit but I'm not sure why a family of sperm are striding around shopping centres looking for Christmas presents.
There's one extremely strange - and rather disturbing - aspect to this. "Mmm, eggnog," says Father Sperm, Homer Simpson-style, absent-mindedly.
"Mmm, Bieber," says Ma Sperm, appreciatively. Actually, more than appreciatively. Lasciviously, you could almost say.
Now, I suspect Bieber is legal, but probably only just. What's more he looks about four. Just imagine the Dad lusting after Hermione Granger and see how you feel about that.
Turd rating: Three
Nice idea, nice execution but this is a terrible assault on the senses - the sort of thing the CIA used to blast at Manuel Noriega.
Turd rating: Three and a half
Celebrities: None that I'm aware of
I find it hard to believe that the Here Come The Girls tattoo doesn't have some sort of Pavlovian effect on half the population these days - its very presence like the foreshadowing of some horrific catastrophe.
Personally I'm inclined towards punching myself in the neck, but voiding of stomachs, noses, bladders and bowels are all empirically-proven side-effects of hearing this tune.
Since this one has a clear Great Escape theme to it I'm hoping there's a bonus ad that involved them all being taken out to the woods and machine gunned.
Turd rating: Four
I wonder if the Wachowski Brothers ever thought that their revolutionary Bullet Time trick photography invention would ever be used to shill a discount supermarket chain in a bizarre Christmas advert.
I'm guessing not, just as I'm guessing that no-one would have foreseen the inclusion of a mind-spinning Inception-style telescopic reality setting for an advert selling trouser-vendors.
I just find this confusing - and I don't get what it has to do with Matalan. Presumably all the people feature in it are asleep, bald, pale and nude - possibly in a gigantic monster-feeding embryo chamber.
Turd rating: Four
Toys R Us
Why, when you have a much-recognised and much-loved Christmas advert in the form of the ageless "There's a magical place; We're on our way there; With toys in their millions; All under one roof" ad, would you piss all that brand equity down the drain with a vile American rap waffling on about coupons?
Appalling. Inexplicable. Appallicable.
Turd rating: Four and a half
An absolute fucking disaster, unless the aim was to reposition Littlewoods as the most low-rent outlet on the marketplace.
The ASA has actually been moved to an issue a 'we don't like it, but we have to go along with it' rebuttal to complaints that this ad is killing Santa. And replacing it with what? A bloody credit card.
If this were Japan some ritual boardroom suicides would be going on about now. Possibly metaphorical, possibly not.
I never want to see this ever again.
Turd rating: 245,835,585,299,001
So, there you have it. A rotten bunch to be sure, but this could have been so much worse. No-one would ever pretend that Fukushima was a good thing - but the alternative doesn't bear thinking about.
And, just in case you think I'm overcooking things somewhat, take a look at this - and never, ever forget.
So, with a sense of inevitability I'm here to name Halifax as the most despised adverts of 2010, running away with over one fifth of the vote in the worst adverts of 2010 stakes.
These adverts certainly annoyed me - the Ice Ice Baby one particularly drove me to turn the television off on at least one occasion - but they seemed to drive AdTurds readers to frothing, spasming apoplexy. Some of the keyword queries and comments were actually chilling to behold.
It's easy to see why these ads have irritated people so. Their very raison d'etre is to annoy anyone who sees or hears them. You know it. They know that you know it. You know that they know that you know it. It's like a restless tween asking you the same question over and over again simply to get on your wick.
Halifax is pretty much alone in the banking industry in deploying these tactics in its advertising, which have been widely adopted by price comparison sites; a kind of carpet-bombing of your consciousness with concentrated naff. These weapons are not laser-guided, they have no precision. They are the advertising equivalent of daisy cutters and there will be collateral damage.
The point of these adverts, certainly for price-comparison sites, is simply to embed a name and impression in your mind so that when you need to insure your car those Go Compares and meerkats and Omid Djalilis are right at the front of your mind. There's little customer loyalty in these most volatile of markets or much to differentiate one offering from another, which is why they must resort to pester power when it comes to putting their brands out there.
Banks have normally eschewed these tactics, with most preferring to put themselves over as rather stuffy, slightly dour but eminently trustworthy places to keep your hard-earned; think of the old-fashioned image of the stuffed shirt bank manager. NatWest sticks out in my mind as attempting to engender some sort of affection among potential customers with ads decrying the transition of bank buildings into trendy winebars and its recent - rather silly - customer charter adverts.
TSB liked to be the bank that said yes; Lloyds had its black horse; Santander has Wild Beasts and Lewis Hamilton; HSBC has those Gambon-voiced efforts that place it firmly as a global banking behemoth, which it is.
But Halifax has thrown off any attempt to make it look respectable, trustworthy, serious or even worthy of affection. It's going out of its way to annoy customers and potentials alike; displaying its staff as blithering twats and incompetents as if they were working in a shit leisure centre in a sitcom.
Clearly Halifax thinks this works as they've been ploughing this furrow since they launched Howard Brown onto an unsuspecting world a decade ago.
What's even more remarkable about Halifax's effort to place it as the Ryanair of the banking sector is that, a couple of years ago as part of HBOS, it nearly went down completely partly due to mind-boggling exposure to its own incautious lending, taking the rest of the UK banking sector and the national economy with it. At one point, no-one knew whether cash machines across the UK would dispense any money come the following Monday. A shotgun marriage to Lloyds followed, along with tens of billions of public money.
How has Halifax - admittedly only part of what's now an enormous toxic-bank clusterfuck - responded to nearly destroying, erm, money? Not with a mea culpa, or an element of contrition notable in things like NatWest's 'customer charter' adverts but with its most annoying advert yet.
This is our reward for bailing out the banking sector. Something that's beamed into your home on a daily basis with the express intention of putting you in a bad mood. The alternative to saving the banks may have been unthinkable, but the idea of societal apocalypse seems almost preferable when viewing the Halifax adverts.
Worst advert of 2010 - results and analysis
As mentioned, Halifax ran away with it in the end, but it looked like an equal three-way tie for a while, with Go Compare and Iceland performing strongly until the last week of voting. WeBuyAnyCar made a strong late surge too.
If this were any kind of serious attempt to find the most hated ad of the year, it would require some effort to measure the frequency of the ads and peoples' exposure to it through scheduling times - and determining the channels on which they were broadcast.
As it is we can probably afford slightly more bile towards some of the more obscure ads as, presumably, they were much less viewed than others.
The thing of it is, the results for the top four - if not a majority of the adverts featured here - will be seen as a positive for the brands the advertise, as they're exclusively of the 'exposure through annoyance' genre. By voting for them, you've validated them. Sucks, huh?
'Other' answers suggested by readers included the following:
Sainsbury's double points
The Times online
I'm sure there was a time when Iceland wasn't the cheapest shop on the block. By cheapest I don't necessarily mean least expensive; just the tackiest, the least classy.
What makes it even more bizarre is that Iceland blazed a trail in its sourcing of organic veg and progressive stances on GM foods, additives and the like.
Arguably, Iceland took its eye off what its customers wanted at this point, but the volte-face has seen Iceland adopting the kind of stack-em-high approach of bargain basement stores - and them some.
This about-turn was heralded with an overhaul in its branding, unapologetically going downmarket and trumpeting 'value' (viz. cheapness) above all, with a parade of celebs best described as easy to relate to. Think Kerry Katona, one of the Nolans, Christopher Biggins and, finally, Jason Donovan.
Iceland's 2010 Christmas offering sees a calvacade of its bizarre party food – think king prawn spoons, mini Yorkshire pudding with roast beef that look obscene, a fucking Baileys dome gateau – with can-canning Mums and Jason Donovan as a sado-masochistic master of ceremonies.
The other night I watched an ad break that had four or five variations of this Iceland ad, sandwiched between adverts for other brands. It was vaguely nightmarish.
This is classic all-out assault advertising – noisy, colourful, fast, bizarre – with two familiar songs, the latter of which, rather obnoxiously is stone-cold classic 20th Century Boy.
But there's something more than that. I find this advert oddly sinister; there's a weird undercurrent to it all, perhaps because of the overall violence of the thing.
It's easy to imagine the whole thing speeding up and speeding up; the dancing and singing becoming more frantic and twisted. The camera pulling back to reveal Donovan, dancing in slow motion, naked from the waist down and nursing a stiffy.
A slaughterhouse staffed by can-can-ing Iceland staff, frantically butchering hundreds of chickens in an attempt to keep the Iceland freezers stocked up with cheap food.
But, wait, what's this? These aren't pickled onions... they're eyes. Human eyes. The chicken balls are screaming. And these prawns are still alive, sliding around on a silver platter, proffered by a tarty housewife with dead eyes.
A David Lynch nightmare on an ITV budget. A thousand squawking 'Mums', a production line of animals being turned into tasteless boxed foodstuffs and Donovan - mouth smeared with chocolate and breadcrumbs and mayo just laughing and laughing and laughing...
NB. Iceland's adverts were brilliantly lampooned by Vic and Bob in Shooting Stars in the Coldland skit earlier this year.
It's been a fruitful year for the AdTurds, with much more material that could be covered in the end. The Suggest an AdTurd feature is brimming like one of those huge tanks in the American midwest that's full of boiling, gaseous pig shit.
Go Compare ran away with this one in 2009 and like Cliff Richard, he's a very good bet for this year's gong too, despite stiff competition from Confused.com, WeBuyAnyCar, BT and Halifax.
There are dark horses too. Who saw the VanCompare advert coming? Or Bing's heroic attempt to take on Google with some monkey noises? Or the total horror of Jamie and Louise Rednkapp 'laaaahvin iiii...'?
And what about Spotify? That came from nowhere eh? But how many people who heard Jack Davenport's infuriating Alfa Romeo MiTo advert will ever forget it?
What has emerged is the likelihood that a genuinely hated ad is likely to find its way back on your box again and again. If people dislike it, they probably remember it; if the remember it, it's probably on the screens all the time; if it's on the screens all the time it's probably disliked. Hence your most hated ad is back on the telly again and again. QED.
That's unfortunate if you're driven to twitching fury by such adverts, but it seems increasingly clear that it's how ad agencies work. Bad adverts are, if you like, a necessary evil. But this is concentrated evil. One drop of that could turn you all into hermit crabs.
Read on! Weep! Vote! Smash yourself in the face with an iron! Watch again! It's the most annoying, most shit, most terrible adverts of 2010!
Effortlessly the worst series of adverts since, well, the last lot of Halifax adverts. While truly appalling, these adverts don't quite make me fear for the human race. They're like the Mumford and Sons, Tesco or Microsoft of bad adverts. Always there, always disliked, always shit (or mediocre at any rate).
But there are, to my mind, worse evils in the world. AdTurds readers seem to disagree, so expect this to go straight in at number one in the poll below.
Full disclosure: AdTurds has a bit of a thing for the blonde in the Lucky You advert.
Confused.com - Somebody to Love
After several failed attempt, Confused.com finally hit upon a character of its own designed to annoy the shit out of people everywhere. Only this isn't just annoying, it's also inept. A confused (ahem) message only serves to leave a bemused WTF rattling off the walls.
Imagine Confused.com's squiggly drawing thing being rather indelicately spitroasted by Gio Compario and Aleksandr Orlov and you have a pretty good metaphor for how their respective campaigns have panned out.
Read the original entry: Confused.com Somebody to Love
Marks & Spencer's Xmas Turd
Hard to believe now, but there was once something vaguely canny about these M&S adverts, before they fell in love with themselves so massively it's a surprise they don't simply have the cast frotting themselves on cashmere jumpers and gift packs of bubble bath.
This festive effort swith Peter Kay, Twiggy, Danni Minogue and some other people too dreary to mention is so smug that Piers Morgan thinks it's a bit much.
Read the original entry: Marks & Spencer Christmas advert
Thomas Cook Redknapp horror intersection
AdTurds has some inside information on this effort from Thomas Cook that suggests that it was responsible for more complaints than anything else the travel company has ever done.
That may or may not be true, but what is true is that Thomas Cook has a huge effigy of the gruesome Redknapps (who seem to exist purely in advertising these days) in its reception, no doubt now defaced by people driven to violence by Louise and Jamie's vile, whiny estuary voices.
Read the original entry: Redknapp Thomas Cook adverts
Bing clutch bags
Tasked with apparent no-win scenario of designing an ad campaign to humble Google, ad agency JWT struck a canny line with the 'information overload' line but went on to present it in the most annoying way possible.
I always thought it would have been better to have the information overload people spouting a load of gibberish about hot Asian babes too.
It's also problematic because the Bing engine isn't any better in displaying relevant information that Google, Yahoo, Ask or any other search engine in the entire world.
Read the original entry: Bing adverts
Dell treats Lollipop
On the face of there was nothing too annoying about this advert for Dell's laptops first off. But the sheer carpet-bombing ubiquity of the first few bars of the Chordettes track - particularly when it invaded Spotify - rendered it simply unbearable; and almost certainly used as a torture device in Guantanamo Bay.
Lollipop Lollipop Oh Lolli Lolli Lolli Lollipop....
Read the original entry: Dell treats advert
Pity poor Josh. Basically used and abused by a massive multinational in their doomed marketing campaign like a Thai ladyboy by a second-hand car salesman from Romford on his annual sex holiday.
Awful music, crap idea, poor chinless Josh. A powerful mixture of pity and contempt.
Read the original entry: John T-Mobile advert
Citroen DS3 John Lennon
The Citroen DS3 might have been the most enjoyable car AdTurds thrashed this year, but this ad featuring Lennon pondering the shitness of nostalgia and retro - in an advert that was all about nostalgia and retro for a car that was all about nostalgia and retro - was one of the least enjoyable ads.
Bonus turds for the affected out-of-synch footage too.
Read the original entry: John Lennon Citroen DS3 advert
The post that provoked nothing less than death threats, legal action threats and the infinite wrath of seemingly every Sweet fan on the face of the Earth.
All of that ended in a détente with the actual chairman of VanCompare and a message of good wishes to Andy Scott, believe it or not.
Still, this is possibly the most inept advert every to grace a television. Sweeeeet!
Read the original entry: VanCompare advert
BT family adverts
Perhaps the most unloved TV couple since Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood, Adam and Jane seemed to reach a climax this year in the 'is she or isn't she?' interactive campaign. Sadly the options didn't involve death or divorce, but whether Jane was pregnant or not (AdTurds readers suggested their own ending).
In the most stultifying spot of television ever, the answer was revealed as yes and somewhere in Scotland came the noise of John Logie Baird and Alexander Graham Bell softly weeping.
Read the original entry: BT advert - what happens next?
Go Compare adverts
AdTurds can't really find it in his granite heart to hate Go Compare. Annoying, yes, but no more than any Little & Large sketch from the 1987.
To complain of the rampant repetition; the sheer inescapability of Go Compare ads would be to complain about the ubiquity of grass, water, why the very air itself.
Still, a guaranteed big hitter in this year's poll - and maybe they'll finish it off with Gio exploding in gas, fat and hair after one 'whaffer thin mint' too many.
Read the original entry: Go Compare advert
Ladbrokes World Cup ads
Two of the most annoying people on television gibbering and gurning like idiots; an appalling campaign; distasteful subject matter; a soundtrack used in at least two different ads over the last couple of years.
Without Wright and Kamara is would be awful. With the charmless pundits it enters a new circle of Hell.
Read the original entry: Ladbrokes World Cup adverts
We Buy Any Car advert
Few adverts are genuinely hateful, but We Buy Any Car managed it this year with the advertising equivalent of having Fern Cotton blast an air horn into your face for 60 seconds several times a day.
Pretty much the nearest thing to a sonic weapon - a non-lethal weapon designed to disable victims by provoking vomiting or 'uncontrolled' defecation - that you'll ever see on television.
Read the original entry: WeBuyAnyCar advert
Alfa Romeo Spotify advert
Sadly, or fortunately, I've been unable to track down the audio of this bad, bad ad. Suffice it to say that this advert on Spotfiy was generating hundreds of tweets a day on Twitter, and none were positive.
Actually drove me to a Spotify Premium account. I've yet to work out whether this is sheer genius on the part of Spotify; sheer idiocy on the part of Alfa Romeo; a combination of both; or simple ineptitude. Either way it's abysmal.
Read the original entry: Alfa Romeo Spotify advert
Iceland 201 Christmas adverts
It was an oversight of massive proportions that Iceland's 2010 Christmas adverts, featuring Jason Donovan, were not originally included in this list, but an ad break that featured four or five versions of this ad recently convinced me of the error.
There's something genuinely unsettling about all of this. The insistence of it, the repetition and noise and the fact that the food all looks so horrible.
This isn't just an annoying advert. It;s an advert to give you nightmares.
• Read the original entry: Iceland 2010 Christmas advert
Vote for the worst advert of 2010!
Vote for your most hated ad of 2010 and we'll go an pelt the ad agency who wins with rotten fruit. And very hard stones.
Although this, by any stretch of the imagination, an utterly terrible advert I can't find it in my heart to loathe it in the same way I loathe most adverts for banks, telecommunications, make-up, cleaning products or financial services.
Because there's no malice in it. It's like hating the class dunce: he's probably trying his heart out and he'd never be cruel or unkind to anyone. Simply, it's not his fault he's thick as pigshit.
When you get Coleen Nolan and Jason Donovan - two people who haven't been famous for 50 years between them - representing your brand singing "What a swell party" very badly you can hardly be accused of any side.
Donovan sounds like he's never actually held a note in his life and Nolan has surely only been selected as the jolly, big-bosomed, yo-yoing replacement for the hapless Kerry Katona.
Iceland seems to have made a virtue out of being cheap and cheerful - or cheap and nasty if you take into account their inexpensive frozen fodder - and that's exactly what this advert is: The thick kid in the class.
The Samsung Jet advert would sneer at it; the American Airlines advert would look down its nose at it; and Peter Jones would kick it as he skated past on his stupid shopping trolly.
But it's so hopeless I can't find it in my heart to hate it.
• It's so crap no-one's even uploaded it.