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...
Well, well, well.
It seems that many people, rather than being touched by Sainsburys' advert about the Christmas Truce, thought it was the worst advert of the year. I've explained previously why I thought so when it originally came out and in the end-of-the-year round-up, so I'm not going to repeat myself.
Suffice to say, I do hope this misadventure is the last we see of appalling moments in history being used to flog goods. And to anyone who wants to take this up with me, I offer the following question: In what way would it be worse to use 9/11 as a backdrop for advertising a supermarket in a similar idiom?
Of the other top three competing to be named worst advert of 2014, I was surprised but heartened to see Gladstone Brookes ranking highly. This aggravating, openly aggressive and hideously ubiquitous advert was like an aggressive fungus spreading across television screens in 2014. The product they were advertising? Charging you a wedge for the sake of sending out a templated letter.
There's something offensive in a vaguely Dickensian way about that and while I'm sure their terrible advert played a part, I think the number of votes indicates that readers felt similarly about Gladstone Brookes' business methods.
Hive rounds off the top three and was winning this poll for a fortnight or so. There was no more aggravating noise in 2014 than this ghastly, twee, try-hard ditty that sounds like it was sung in a shed by a man wearing a stupid pom-pom hat, drinking cloudy cider and thinks Ed Sheeran is the last word in cool music. From everyone in the world, Hive, I beg you to fuck right off.
The rest of the poll
I loved how Wonga spectacularly imploded this year, with their ads disappearing from screens as the company underwent a lengthly self-flagellation, execs were defenestrated and they admitted they'd lent money to people who wouldn't be able to repay their loans in a million years. This was particularly satisfying as Wonga have made a habit of popping up on this blog over the years to complain that I've misrepresented them.
My big problem with the actual adverts is that they turn the serious business of borrowing money into some insane, infantilised pantomime - it's a smoking gun, as far as I'm concerned, as to Wonga's real market and in pulling these ads, they've admitted as much.
Hotels4U, another ad that simply vanished as quickly as it appeared, is the only advert I've ever seen that made me fear for the safety of the actors it featured. Their Twitter account reads: "If you love #hotels & high quality television adverts then you've come to the right place!".
While not in any way offensive or annoying, the Co-Op advert smacked of a company that simply doesn't know what it's about anymore. The fact that an agency made this ad and the client signed it off is, frankly, a disastrous mistake by everyone concerned.
Will this be the year that Andrex stops trying to sell us their wet wipes? I don't know, but I do hope it's the year they stop telling us that they're safe to flush. Especially as there's a full ad campaign by water companies specifically designed to refute this claim. Where next for this lengthy campaign which seems determined to make us discuss faeces?
I'm not sure there's much less to say about the remainder, other than how appallig they are. What I can guarantee is this: CompareTheMarket isn't going anywhere, despite being the most overstayed welcome since Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy; Sky Sports will continue to pretend that football matter, when it doesn't fucking matter one bit; Apple will continue to be smug; beards will continue to be appropriated by fuckwits; cheese strings will remain vile in every respect and that we will never escape The Redknapps.
Happy New Year.
There were plenty of votes for other adverts readers hated, including lots (excluded here) that simply aaid 'all of them'.
Mostly good choices on the whole, though I can't agree with the Singing Toys advert. Even though I couldn't tell you what it was advertising if I had a gun to my head, it was one of the best of the year for my money. I actually wrote to the makers of the ad to see if they'd let me have the wonky owl, but they never replied to me.
Natwest - 3 votes
Gala Bingo - 3 votes
Paddy Power - 2 votes
Singing toys - 2 votes
Oak Furniture Land - 1 vote
Carphone Warehouse - 1 vote
Sensodyne Toothpaste - 1 vote
Paypal - 2 votes
Bet 365 - 1 vote
Cadbury Xmas - 1 vote
Coral Windows Radio Advert - 1 vote
Vistaprint - 1 vote
John Lewis - 1 vote
Chloe Perfume - 1 vote
Argos - 1 vote
Go Compare - 1 vote
Vanarama - 1 vote
Famous Grouse - 1 vote
First4Lawyers - 1 vote
MyMate - 1 vote
Renault Zoe - 1 vote