If Salma Hayek knocked on my door stark naked every day I would initially welcome it. But by the 84th or 85th time it would get irritating. By the 592nd time I might no longer become aroused by the sight of Salma Hayek naked on my doorstep. By the 44,087th time I might even become vaguely irritated. And I like Salma Hayek.
It's the same with some adverts. The first time I heard the new MoneySupermarket adverts I thought: "That's Patrick Stewart. I like Patrick Stewart." Now it's getting tiring.
Advertising has pulled these tricks before. Cricket commentator David Lloyd. Doctor Whos Tom Baker and Paul McGann and David Tennant. Harry Hill. They're all starting to grate a little bit.
Let's get this clear, I don't blame them. If I could make a few grand for doing an hour's voiceover work I would - even if I were as rich as Patrick Stewart probably is.
No, I don't blame them. I blame advertising. Like the way that advertising slowly but surely sucks the pleasure out of music it uses and abuses, it turns you against other things you like. Former Star Trek and Doctor Who actors, for example.
So, even though there's aren't the most egregious adverts on telly in their own right, they're more annoying to me on a personal level. Here's how it makes me feel.
It's like Confused.com are paying my Dad to sing YMCA, only with Confused.com's idiotic lyrics. I love my Dad, but I'd have to give him a Chinese burn after a while of hearing the Confused.com adverts if my Dad sang the tune.
Patrick Stewart is not my Dad. Neither is Tom Baker. But i'm very fond of them. And advertising is making me hate them. Just a little bit at a time. But enough.
Tom has done quite a few voiceovers over the years. Here's a bit of an antidote to that - recording a voiceover for Symphony furniture (or something) and being irritable, sweary and very funny in the process.
And here's Tom being brilliant in advert, just to cheer you up.
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.
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.
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