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...
Aww, Christmas adverts. Snowmen and buying your loved on a woolly jumper and gorging yourself all the way to Type-II Diabetes. At a time when John Carpenter's iconic 80s sci-fi/action film They Live! is gaining traction as a meme I'm here to remind you that Christmas adverts are there to convince you to consume more, conform more, buy more - and burn the whole fucking planet in the meantime.
You know the score. No cooing from me. No gurgling at the latest John Lewis mood music. Send me the ghosts of Victor Kiam, PG Tips chimps and Barry Scott - there'll no no Christmas spirit for me where Christmas ads are concerned.
They're not harmless and they're not just a bit of fun. They're just one of the nicer-looking cogs in the system everyone apparently despises. It's one of the prevailing modern mysteries that people rail against experts, elites and the European Union while adverts for massive multinational companies get a free pass, because LOL.
I don't hate Christmas. But I'm not fond of Christmas adverts. These are the ones that caught my eye this time around: the best, the worst, the most sickeningly awful. You can vote for your favourite below.
2016 Christmas Adverts
Argos Christmas Advert
Bonus points for the soundtrack - but a load of multicoloured skating yeti? It's pretty striking I guess but, as ever with Argos adverts, it can't help but say 'expensive' and 'cheap' at the same time.
Aldi Christmas Advert
The preponderance of all-CGI adverts these days doesn't do a lot for me - they just conjure up an image of a speccy 3D animator sitting in a windowless room in front of three massive iMac screens. Good old Kevin The Carrot.
Asda Christmas Advert
Nothing encapsulates to stupid wastefulness of the modern Christmas more than the buying of crapulous Christmas jumpers to be worn for one day and then discarded. Needless to say they're not all made by elves in Lapland either: a recent report found that plenty of high-street knitwear was made by people in third-world countries who were regularly 'beaten, threatened, stripped of their rights and imprisoned on false charges'. Merry Christmas!
If your modus operandi is 'we sell cheap shit' then I guess it stands to reason your advert reeks of it.
Boots Christmas Advert
Boots have been doing Christmas adverts pretty well for a few years now, ducking the sad/happy, snow'n'food clusterfucks and focusing on real people and doing something nice for them. Set against the food-and-stuff orgies Christmas is often presented as, it can't help but come across well.
Currys PC World
Yeah, OK, I'll buy this. Unlike a not-dissimilar Littlewoods advert from a few years ago I think this is sending itself up. 'Just so you know' is a nice little pay-off too. The idea of stepping foot into a Currys PC World store at any time of the year makes me nauseous, mind.
Debenhams Christmas Advert
Jennifer Saunders, Ewan McGregor, Billie Piper, Bruno Tonioli (?) and Mel Giedroyc join forces to lend their voices to a heartening story of buying stuff. I quite like these Debenhams spots and they look and sound lovely - but the execution is just slightly off somehow. Still, it sounds so lovely by the end of it I nearly had a stalk-on.
DFS Christmas advert
Nothing says 'Christmas is over; now it's five days dreading going back to work and loathing yourself over how much you've eaten and drunk' like a trip to a slushy sofa warehouse on an industrial estate to see if there are any cheap suites. Hence this adverts, I guess, which uses some lovely Aardman animation to make something almost quite nice. But I just can't buy into it: I don't think I've ever had a delivery of anything that hasn't been a ballache and I'd list 'buying a sofa' somewhere between 'trying to claim disability allowance' and 'clearing out drains' in my list of things I'd like to do.
Ebay Christmas Advert
Jesus, just look at the shite they're advertising here. Still this ploughs a winning Inbetweeners furrow and is pleasingly cynical. The 'Christmas disco' angle is pretty oddly specific but this feels like a more honest advert that has a good chance of connecting with its target audience. No CGI animals in sight either.
House of Fraser Christmas Advert
This is fucking horrible.
John Lewis Christmas Advert Christmas Advert
John Lewis kills Santa, with help from a CGI dog ripped off from the internet.
Littlewoods Christmas Advert
Littlewoods seems to have gone out its way in recent years to make the most offensively consumerist adverts of all. It's still at it here with a montage of a family tooling up with the shit they've bought each other (on 0% credit, of course). But it's inoffensive enough - at least compared to previous efforts - and doesn't feature piano-bothering Tory harpy Myleene Klass. So it can't be all bad.
Marks & Spencer Christmas Advert
Dear Christ, how much money was spunked on this? There are porn stars who have been spunked on less than this.
Morrisons Christmas Advert
Wreath, tree, snow, presents, wooly hats, icing sugar, decorations, mince pies, turkey, Christmas dinner, board games, paper hats. CHECK. Though I do think Morrisons have got it right with everyone's favourite comforting northern voice in the shape of Paul Copley.
Not On The High Street Christmas advert
A debut effort from 'power-to-the-people' indie champions Not On The High Street here, which plays up its 'real people make this stuff' angle by casting them as elves from around the country. I also like the battered blue Ford Trannie van.
Sainsbury's Christmas advert
Well, where to start. The first thing to notice here is that James Corden is singing - singing - this quite dreadful song. It's as if Sainsbury's were so desperate to use Corden (as must all broadcasters, by law, in 2016) they crowbarred him into voicing the song, just so they could generate a few more column inches in The Daily Mail and Sun. Corden's singing is, it must be said, pretty bad - he sounds like a man doing his best after being forced into an involuntary rendition after his first three singing lessons, operating at the limits of his vocal cords. Only one who got a million quid for his efforts.
What I dislike most about this is how depressing the whole thing is. The only way the Dad in this advert can briefly escape from his miserable existence is by replacing himself with a nodding dog, proving that he is both horribly overworked and job-insecure, but also so utterly insignificant that no-one notices he isn't there.
What a troubling parable for our time: a zero-hours, anxiety-attack, gnawing-insecurity Christmas carol for Brexiting austerity Britain. Cold comfort too, no doubt, for the Sainsbury's employees who have to be at work for 6am on Boxing Day.
Tesco Christmas Advert
You can't have your cake and eat it Tesco. As ever Miller and Jones are engaging and the script rides a fine line between kitchen-sink reality and sitcom humour, but it kinda works. I can't hate it - even if I think it's got a bloody nerve.
TK Maxx Christmas Advert
There's a nice bait-and-switch here that makes sense. TK Maxx just can't compete with the big names - and probably shouldn't even be trying. So subverting expectations and disrupting the traditional Christmas snorefests isn't a bad idea. Works pretty well too, even if the lasting feeling is vague unease.
Toys R Us Christmas Advert
I think the value in the Toys R Us jingle lies in its nostalgia value: a hefty dose of 'when I was a kid' and the fuzzy animation. Update it and it loses a lot of its charm, especially when you realise it's just not a very good piece of music. 'There's millions, says Geoffrey, all under on roof'. What? I do wish they'd include the forgotten third verse, however, if only to see the baffled faced on today's kids.
"Books Boardgames and Bikes
Teddies, Puppets and Dolls
Bats, Spaceships and Trikes..."
Very.co.uk Christmas Advert
I like the sentiment - that giving is quite a nice thing to do - but I'm not convinced that a gig-economy-fuelled online shopping service is a particularly festive notion.
Waitrose Christmas Advert
When I was a child I thought I had a new affinity with robins. Because my name is Robin. Sadly this isn't true, but I do have an affinity with wildlife. I'm in the RSPB and BTO and a lot of charitable donations of mine go towards supporting wildlife. You know who doesn't support wildlife? Supermarkets. Agriculture.
If we're not careful we'll end up in a situation where the only wild birds we see are CGI efforts on Christmas adverts. It's enough to make you weep into a Waitrose mince pie.
Vote for your favourite Christmas advert
Favourites? You tell me. I'll take is as read the answer 'none of the above' will feature.
Christmas adverts of old
Refresh your memories of the best and worst Christmas adverts – sob pitifully at advertising or enrage yourself to vein-throbbing standards – of previous years.