In Roger Corman's portmanteau of Edgar Allen Poe's short stories, Masque of the Red Death, Vincent Price - as Prince Prospero - explains that his father once locked a man in a yellow room for a year to see what would happen. When Prospero was done with him the man was half-mad and unable to look at the colour yellow for the rest of his life.
Having watched eleven months of adverts that could drive the calmest man to knuckle-biting angst I know how he felt. What would happen, I wonder, if a man were made to watch price-comparison website adverts non-stop for a year? My bet would be a fate from another Poe story, namely being reduced to a puddle of foul, stinking, steaming pustulation in a matter of minutes.
2011 continued where 2010 left off, with a number of big names - chiefly price-comparison sites, financial sectors and high-street names - doing their level best to put you in a bad mood. In a marketplace where brand recognition is paramount, an advert equivalent of a hair-pull is good work.
Let's consider, for a second, the utter absurdity of price-comparison adverts. Short, aggressive messages that cost tens of millions of quid to create and distribute; designed to make us use a website that shows aggregated prices for financial services. And to make us use them they try their damnedest to make us feel angry - it's utterly barking mad by any rational standpoint. Welcome to advertising.
So it should come as no surprise that price-comparison site adverts usually constitute a significant degree of 'worst of' lists. Go Compare and Confused.com anyway. In my wholly scientific price-comparison site advert survey earlier this year readers disliked them the most. CompareTheMarket continues to show that price-comparison sites can be tolerable, enjoyable even, but the majority of ads in this pester-power genre have all the subtlety of a South London racist tram rant.
I've left Go Compare off this year - I think we can all take it as read that we hate it - and the Patrick Stewart MoneySupermarket ones haven't quite piqued my anger yet. Confused.com is, of course, because I absolutely despise it.
Alas, there's nothing we can do about any of this. You want your Corrie, your I'm A Celebrity, your X-Factor, your E4, your More 4; you pay for it. By buying Corn Flakes, Anusol, Mattesons smoked pork sausages, Muller yoghurt, KFC and Volkswagen Crafters. By submitting your details to MoneySupermarket and Go Compare; by banking with Barclays and Santander and Halifax. By doing your Xmas shop at M&S, Tesco, Iceland and Littlewoods.
You pay for these adverts to be created. You have created your very own monster. Stacey Solomon's gangbang of cheap food and families. Jamie's Oliver increasingly piggy face smirking over some brussel sprouts. Freddie Flintoff headbutting pork pies. And, lest we forget, Cara Confused pulling unfeasibly large items out of her vagina.
The only, tiny, infinitesimal thing you can do is to boycott the products of the ads you despise; an act so futile it's up there with shouting at the telly and blogging about adverts you hate.
But you can strike a blow for humanity. You can, in your own way, blow Gio Compario's brains out; throw an anvil at the Halifax choir or kick that "Wooh! Hello buddy, how's your shave?" twat up the arse forever by delivering swift internet justice.
Vote for your worst advert of the year here - and send a metaphorical horse's head to these people. It's the one chance you'll ever get to fight back. The war was lost long ago but, briefly, the boot is on the other foot. And it's a foot of righteous anger.
Deliver it to the knackers of evil - and rejoice.
The worst adverts of 2011 - shortlist
Marks and Spencer Xmas ad
An advert that is so brazen in the lie that it is telling even Tony Blair would baulk at delivering it. Honey-voiced cannon fodder line up to tell us that your dreams can comes true even as they're being edited out of the ad, week by week, as theirs die in the pages of tabloid and shopping centre ribbon-slicing Hell.
And let's not even mention Frankie...
• Read the original Marks and Spencer Adturd
VW Think Blue ad
I've never included an advert on these lists before simply because the soundtrack is so irredeemably awful. The visual concept is quite nice - albeit not exactly original - but this rendition of Wouldn't It Be Nice - a truly beautiful and lovely song - is so stomach-knottingly awful with its whiney delivery that this may be my most despised advert of the year.
• Read the original Volkswagen Adturd
British Airways' massive wank
It's possible that this advert opens up a small rip in the space/time continuum every time it's played, so up its own backside is it; like an Ouroboros serpent burrowing into its own rectum, rather than swallowing its tail.
Several people have already been sucked into some sort of existential Mobius strip, as reality struggles to orientate itself with this new level of awfulness.
An elbow to the nose of anyone who's attended Heathrow; to anyone who's been through a body scanner; to anyone who's looked forlornly at a notice board to see a row of red where their flight details should be.
• Read the original British Airways Adturd
Wonga got into trouble last year for making adverts deemed too flippant to sell an eye-wateringly high money-lending service, so what did it come back with? Three grotesque hyperannuated puppets, gurning and twitching around, explaining various 'payday loan' scenarios.
Adverts to give you nightmares, if not for the crippling APR, then the disturbing mannequins - like marionette corpses given life once more in the pursuit of selling ill-advised loans.
Would you buy money form reanimated cadavers, twitching around in their ghastly parody of their former lives? Did you know that Wonga.com actually uses reanimated corpses to staff its call centres? Of course you didn't. But you do now.
• Read the original Wonga.com Adturd
I have no inherent objection to ads that try something else; cock a snoop at received wisdom. I like Jarvis and Gondry; some of my favourite adverts are utterly batshit crazy, but this is simply idiotic. No-one knows who these three people are; two-thirds of them are hard to understand; the concept is confusing and unengaging.
The most ridiculous thing of all is that this is an advert for Eurostar that's using London 2012 as a hook. It is quite conceivable that Europeans might be lured to Eurostar by the promise of Olympic sports to the other side of the channel.
But it has exactly zero relevance to anyone in the UK - unless they're planning to fly to Paris and then get the train back to London in order to get to a lake in Slough. Just a bad, bad idea.
• Read the original Eurostar Adturd
BMW tracked to two brothers and interviewed them about their empty lives: cue instant hatred.
How could it ever have been otherwise? Everything about this advert is dripping with a smugness so cloying it's a relief when the television doesn't dissolve in a warm, self-satisfied fart and start oozing into the carpet.
The Lunds themselves may be nice people, but if BMW had made it their target to make themselves, and the brothers, look like the biggest cunts in the world they couldn't have done a better job.
• Read the original BMW / Lunds Adturd
I'm still not exactly sure what happened here? Is this the confused result of an ad simply gone very wrong? Or, more likely, an attempt at a deliberately bad advert. A bad advert so bad that it made Halifax and Go Compare look like an indoor firework compared to Haribo's Tunguska?
Are there any vile pornographic subtexts here? Almost certainly not - but that doesn't mean I'm not going to imply that there are. And it's really hideous stuff. I mean it. Sick, just sick.
Can you image if you actually, in real life, saw the events in this ad take place? The utter horror of that - your world turned totally upside down. Either you had lost your mind or, or...
The alternative is too hideous to contemplate. But I feel sure the Haribo family would start moving towards you. No smiles, dancing or singing now. Just pure, unfettered blood lust. The horrifyingly blank eyes, the hungry mouths, the chittering noise as they gnash their teeth...
• Read the original Haribo Adturd
This, on the other hand, is rather more straightforward. It's utterly hideous on a much more prosaic level; the result of a creative brief just going more and more wrong with each successive iteration.
There's a decent idea behind all of this; it looks glossy enough. But it's annoying. And it's utterly inept. Why the heck was a rap about salad included here? And why crowbar it into the ad is such an unwieldy way? "Help yourself to salad [three second pause]... all the salad that you want." Dear Christ.
I refuse to believe anyone associated with the ad was happy with this. No-one put this to bed with that sense of satisfaction of a job well done; just a weary shrug. The problems, the lack of direction, vague brief, 'the best we could do'.
I imagine the director, driving away from the shoot at a Harvester on an industrial estate near Daventry; Five Live is on but he's not listening. He misses his turning but just lights a cigarette and just drives and drives and drives...
• Read the original Harvester Adturd
Stephen Merchant always seemed like the nice one when set against Ricky Gervais, didn't he? You could imagine Ricky Gervais actually physically abusing Warwick Davies - but not Merchant.
He may not actually step in but would linger in the background, distaste writ large on his face as Gervais' high-pitched hyena-ish laugh rang out, another blow raining down on the dwarf's back.
"Come on Ricky," he'd offer, a weak smile on his lips. "That's enough now. He's had enough for one day."
Gervais would stop; his fun forgotten, for now.
"What did you say? 'Stop'? Stop what?". His voice is calm and sounds reasonable, but there's a dread stillness to him now.
Suddenly Warwick shrieks in pain as the riding crop connects; another withering blow on his lacerated buttocks.
A nervous rejoinder: "The, er, the whipping. Stop. You've gone too far." Merchant swallows hard.
"Too far? I've gone too far?" A high-pitched giggle, baring those oddly pointy teeth. "And who are you to tell me I've gone too far, you gangly Milky Bar... Cunt."
Gervais approaches, flicking the riding crop absent-mindedly, unblinking.
Merchant spots a squirrel dashing across the set and point it out, hoping it will lighten the mood.
"Squirrel there, oops, he's off," pointing at the squirrel disappearing through a door; another nervous smile.
It's not working - and he can tell Ricky is getting tumescent with the thrill of the violence that is to come.
"No, come on, you've had your fun Ricky. Let's write some more lines, eh?"
"'Write more lines'? Oh, I see. You want some of this too. Is that what you want?"
Spittle flecks the lips and Gervais is clearly nursing something that isn't vertically challenged in his pants.
"You want to talk to Mr Whippy too? I'll write some lines - across your back!"
Ricky is now pointing at Stephen's face with the fun-size whip. Stephen backs away, but Shaun Williamson grabs him from behind and holds him steady.
Gervais raises the whip above his head, Merchant knows that to struggle will only make it worse. Warwick Davies is sobbing across the room - still wearing the leather chaps and waistcoat Gervais insists on - a look on his face that says 'thankyou'.
At that second Johnny Depp enters the room, and it's as if a light has been switched on. Gervais drops the riding crop, Barry wanders off in search of cream cakes and Merchant relaxes, slightly.
He fingers the scars on his face and neck; flinching at Ricky's high-pitched whinnying. At least Warwick survived.
Once upon a time you might have looked at Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and imagined a dynamic between them a bit like that. But no more. This set of Barclays adverts are so awful I find it impossible to look at him in anything approaching a positive light any more.
I'm sure Ricky Gervais does not whip dwarves with riding crops, just as I'm sure neither man is actually evil. But whenever one of these ads comes on I think of Merchant brandishing an Ewok figurine and throwing it at Warwick Davies. Really hard. And laughing.
• Read the original Barclays Adturd
This is a genuine search query, typed into a search engine today, resulting in a visit to AdTurds:
Is there a bigger cunt on tv than the twat in the gillette pro-glide ad?
The answer to the question is 'no'.
• Read the original Gillette Adturd
...and still they come. Confused.com adverts are certainly memorable - for featuring a weird cult with massive bouncing breasts and a multi-dimensional muffed leader singing about what is understood to be a dating service.
If Brian Blessed were to shout FAIL from the moon for eight years it wouldn't be sufficient to describe this deleterious misfire.
• Read the original Confused.com Adturd
Paul Whitehouse / Aviva
Can Paul Whitehouse tapdance? Is Paul Whitehouse dead? Has Paul Whitehouse bought a house in Tuscany? These ads seem to really confuse people, who don't seem to be able to tell fiction from reality.
They confuse me too, mainly because they're so strange. They're just like Fast Show vignettes, but somehow there's a message for insurance in there too. I never really receive that message because I'm too busy writing WTF? all over my skin in felt tip.
A very unlovely, aggravating, baffling and truly weird series. In't Aviva brulliant? No, no it's not.
• Read the original Paul Whitehouse / Aviva Adturd
Quite probably taking victory at the last minute, for my money, this Christmas advert for Littlewoods is not content with simply being an entirely new shade of awful, it's killed off Santa too.
I'm not really sure why Littlewoods felt the need to dispossess children of their youthful innocence quite so abruptly and violently, but there you are. Perhaps because Santa Claus is now deemed an obstacle to accessing the true meaning of Christmas - children's pester power - to be tolerated any longer.
Perhaps they should have gone further; explaining that their parents will die one day, anything they truly love will be taken away from them and there is no God.
Start firing off Littlewoods credit cards emblazoned with 'THIS IS THE ONLY THING THAT TRULY LOVES YOU' once they get to 12 months, I say.
• Read the original Littlewoods Adturd
Idiotic - if nicely shot - drivel that made 53,000 people come to this site over the course of the year to try and find what the hell was going on.
I don't have the energy to talk about it again. Suffice to say that the guy doing the voice was NOT Morgan Freeman.
• Read the original MoreThan Adturd
I always hated this song, but imagine how much more I hate it now that it's being used to advertise cow paste, using a reanimated cow skidding around on a dinner table.
I mean, at least Wonga waits until people die to use their corpses to run their UK operations, but Colmans relies on cow's being killed to make its beef gravy. That's right - a creature loses its life for this to be made possible.
That's all well and good, but there's no need to shout about it - or make a hideous, distasteful advert about it. It would be like Wonga using their bodysnatching teams on their adverts.
• Read the original Colmans AdTurd
Halifax won last year's worst advert poll with its bank-employees-as-idiotic-regional-radio-disc-jockey ads.
Having dispensed with the services of DLKW, who were responsible for the radio station adverts, it's now up to Adam & Eve to rescue Halifax's reputation; battered by poor performance as part of Lloyds and its hated ad campaigns.
This one is noticeably less egregious; it's not actually trying to cause you mental distress, which is always a bonus. The people in the choir are actual Halifax employees and they're trying to convey messages such as Halifax's Saturday opening and so on.
But still it's horribly annoying. It may be the misappropriation of the songs - I don't want my bank telling me they'll 'be there' or that I've had a 'hard days night', but it's OK 'cos the bank's open in the morning.
What next? 'It's OK not to be OK'? 'You are beautiful in ever single way way'? 'What I got you gotta get and put it in ya'?
To try and bolt such garbled messages about savings accounts and the like to these twee little ditties is simply rather grisly. It's like a door-to-door salesman spending hours cooing over your family snaps and lovely crockery, only to open his briefcase in the last ten minutes and try to sell you a 'little piece of paradise'.
You kinda wonder if all the preceding stuff is just a big pile of bullshit, don't you? And, you know what, you'd be absolutely right. Banks exist to make money from you - don't forget it.
Also, bonus hatred for the guy who does a little first pump in the bottom left-hand corner at the climax of one of the ads - for some reason not present in any of the ads on Youtube. I bet the people who made the ad would make out that it was "just something he did on the day" and that they "decided to leave it in".
Lucky that he was positioned in one of the two places that would be really noticeable, then, eh?
Now vote for your most hated ad of 2011
You've seen the candidates - now you have to pick one. And only one, mind. None of this multiple voting shit. I know it's hard. You may have to think long and hard and about - agonise over whether your vote goes to Wonga, Littlewoods, Barclays or one of the others.
Either that or clear your cookies and vote again.
Another month, another deluge of funny, weird, sexy and scary keywords that AdTurds readers have been typing into their search engines.
The one in the title - Fuck off I'm not talking to rice Uncle Ben - tickled me, but the following one also elicited a giggle too:
does the vw advert really say wouldn't it be nice if we were rover?
It isn't, of course, but the idea of it amused me. I doubt if any car manufacturer in the last 20 years would envy Rover, but the notion of VW putting subliminal messages into its ads, such peculiar ones at that, is an intriguing one.
Elsewhere the guy on the far left of the Halifax choir is upsetting readers - several readers have been upset by him. I've not seen him yet, but I imagine there's already a Facebook page that exists simply to disparage him. He'll probably be making an appearance on here soon, as I suspect I'm going to loathe Halifax's new ads even more than the old ones in the long run.
Paul Whitehouse, Stephen Merchant, Cheryl Baker and Louise Rednknapp were in the firing line this month - I particularly liked 'freddie flintoff morrisons fucking idiot' though.
Already the shortlist for the worst adverts of 2011 article is forming. And what a shitty shortlist it's shaping up to be.
AdTurds October 2011 keywords
oh the hatred i feel for the halifax adverts cannot be put into words - 11 separate instances. I find this hard to believe, but surely Google can't be wrong? According to the Big G 11 different people typed this phrase into their search engine and navigated here
"go compare" "fuck off" - 9 separate instances
confused.com fat black woman - 8 separate instances
stephen merchant is a c*nt - 4 separate instances
anyone else hate that guy in the loreal commercial? - 3 separate instances
fathers made to look stupid - 3 separate instances
fuck off halifax you c*nts! - 3 separate instances
fathers made to look stupid - 3 separate instances, see more on the stupid dad meme
gillette fusion proglide challenge guy is a twat - 3 separate instances
stephen merchant what a fuckin wanker - 3 separate instances
colmans advert disgusting cow - 2 separate instances
fuck off i'm not talking to rice uncle ben
what is the new muller advert about? - not yoghurt, I don't think
"patula" kid can fuck off
...... the confused.com woman keeps pulling stuff out her vadge! seriously.
advert where woman leaves her poop on the table - genuinely don't know what this ad is - anyone?
adverts with bums
adverts with gordon brown
are the 2 girls in the maltesers ad with boyfriends asleep sisters?
are the haribo family a real family
bmw she's a cunt commercial - sounds like a bold new ad strategy for BMW
bt advert - where is the bt womans baby? - good question
can i fuck danni minogue for cash?
chummy mums love fucking
colmans new advert gravy creepy
colmans gravy advert needs to fucking stop
colmans advert for beef gravy is horrible
confused.com advert aimed at homosexuals
do gay people object to the malteasers ad
does anyone else refuse to use go compare simply because they hate the adverts?
does anyone hate the fat fucker from the jacamo advert?
does the vw advert really say wouldn't it be nice if we were rover?
freddie flintoff morrisons fucking idiot
gillette fusion commercial voice over fuck buddy
girl shitting herself outside the palace in halifax
guy on the far left of halifax ad
halifax advert choir bottom left man annoying
halifax advert stupid bloke in choir
halifax adverts make me sick
halifax choir cunts
horrible awful weird money supermarket tv ad gorilla terrible
i hate the new coffee advert don't want to see people fucking on my tv
ive shagged cheryl baker
martine mccutcheons huge fat bum
mignon morceaux phileas fogg m&s - I remember these fried snacks fondly
muller advert what the fuck?
pepsi twist lime urinating analysis - great ad
professional women has a poop accident in her panties
sky broadband is fucking shit crap bullshit stupid
tesco people who are ugly
throwing poo acid advert uk - I refuse to believe there's such an advert
torture tory bing commercial - ditto
volkswagen advert hitler think blue
what advert had a wig attacking people - dunno but I want to see it
what the hell is happening in the new muller advert
who are the 3 men in the eurostar advert - advert win!
who are the tossers in eurostar advert
eurostar ad with jarvis cocker, who are the other two?
who is rod rammage?
who is that silly woman in the iceland ads?
who is the fat thing go compare
why cadbury caramel is better than cadbury crunchie
wispa death pussy images
Someone just came on the site to tell me that people love Stephen Merchant even more after his awful set of ads for Barclay's. You know the ones - people growing money, heading down a railtrack.
I doubt very much that's true but thought I'd head off to Analytics to see what other people thought.
I don't think they like them either.
Stephen Merchant-related keyword phrase searches
hate merchant barclays ads
stephen merchant annoying
stephen merchant is a sell-out shit barclays advert
stephen merchant should fuck off and die
fucking barclays adverts stephen merchant
stephen merchant smug
barclays adverts annoying
annoying barclays advert
annoying barclays adverts
annoying barclays ads
2011 who is the annoying man who talks on the barclays adverts
annoying barclays advert voice
annoying barclays advert voice over
annoying barclays small business advert
annoying cunt from barclays advert
annoying voice on barclays ads
barclays ads voice over 2011 cunt
barclays ads voiced by stephen merchant
barclays ads, annoying twat
barclays advert most annoying ever?
barclays advertising is absolutely worst advert i have ever seen
crap adverts barclays squirrel
fuck off barclays adverts
that cunt on the barclays advert
who does the really annoying barclays ad
fuck off squirrel cunt
NO THE SQUIRREL ISN'T RELEVANT YOU TOILET!
AdTurds' Google Analytics account continues to shine a light into the murkiest corners of readers' minds, so this month I stripped out most of the horrible stuff an included some new trends, stuff that simply made me laugh and some plain weird shit.
Whether or not Jacamo is actually designed for fat men, readers seem to have made up their minds. 31 queries for 'jacamo is for fat bastards' seem to indicate that the debate is over.
Elsewhere lots of people have been typing Jenson Button's bizarre dandruff soliloquy, presumably to find out what the hell he's on about, while the Gillette Fusion Proglide Challenge is, it's fair to say, really getting on people's tits.
Lots of people have bee searching for things relating to Cheryl Baker and Carey Mulligan; things that I most certainly can't furnish them with, though I'm sure there are plenty of places where 'fat lesbians fisting' can be discovered on the world wide web - and probably even 'penis loathing film' come to that, though even the internet might shrug at 'delicious turd cock'.
'Paul Whitehouse what the fuck' is probably something a lot of people have been asking of his Aviva ads the last couple of years, including Paul Whitehouse; Stephen Merchant seems to have had his stock reduced by his own set of annoying adverts (viz 'Stephen Merchant should fuck off and die'); and, as it goes, Nannette Newman is so sexy.
'The Redknapps on holiday' seems to suggest some sort of appalling reality TV show or sitcom coming to Sky 2 very soon.
'Every time i read newspaper the same toothpaste advert plays in background' suggests some sort of problem not even the internet can help with, but I'd be interested to know which brand of toothpaste.
The most worrying phrase this month is almost certainly 'people shitting in chocolate cadburys world'. That sounds like something Roald Dahl might have written in one of his 'Tales From the Unexpected' funks rather than great glass elevator moments.
What I do find interesting is the questions people demand of search engine. The identity of an extra in one ad, the shoes another is wearing, what a character in the Halifax ad is eating. Does anyone, anyone on the face of the planet know the answer to some of these?
My favourite this month? 'what a horrible kid in the vision express ad' - I've not seen the ad in question but I'll be scanning the ad breaks like a hawk from now on.
FInally, one that is actually related to ads, perhaps the motherload of all current shit ads. It kind says it all.
'why can't they bloody bury that go compare advert it's the most annoying advert on the television'.
Hate - Confused.com, Louise Rednknapp, 118 118, Lloyds TSB, Match.com, Go Compare, Halifax
Shit - 118 118, Citroen, Match.com, Pepsi Max
Awful - Fusion Proglide, Cash For Gold, Head and Shoulders, Pepsi, Confused.com, Direct Line, Galaxy
Terrible - 118 118, Spotify, Aviva, Confused.com, Direct Line, Gillette Fusion Proglide
Fuck - Confused.com, BT
Cunt - BT, Confused.com, Gillette Fusion Proglide, Gio Compario, Halifax
Tits - Chetyl Baker and Cara Confused duking it out here
July 2011 AdTurds keywords
jacamo is for fat bastards - 31 examples
"wow it's bracing"
confused.com advert ofsted complaints
gillette fusion proglide advert twat
racing spacing wow its bracing
are just for men commercials deliberately stupid
bank ad campaign: students are wankers
big titted confused.com advert
boots adverts make women look stupid
caneston thrush advert at dinner time
carey mulligan masturbating
cheryl baker sausage
confused.com advert music played at gitmo
cunt from gillette advert
delicious turd cock
every time i read newspaper the same toothpaste advert plays in background
fat lesbians fisting
is there a bigger cunt on tv than the twat in the gillette pro-glide ad
nanette newman so sexy
neville wanless and roger mellie
obnoxious pregnant women
oops-stars.com cheryl baker nipples
paul whitehouse what the fuck
penis loathing film
people shitting in chocolate cadburys world
sainsbury's tomatoes are rubbish
stephen merchant should fuck off and die
stupid little twat from the morrisons advert
suck germaine greer
the people doing cadbury commercials are on some of that good shit
the redknapps on holiday
the sky cricket commentry team are annoying
ugly people in tesco
wanna see the womans tits in the lynx advert
what a horrible kid in the vision express ad
what car does emile heskey have - probably not a Fiat Stilo
what shoes does the man from barclays advert wear?
what the hell is that girl eating in the hsbc advert
whats the deal with that fucking gillette advert?
who is the punk neighbour on the we buy any car advert 2011?
why can't they bloody bury that go compare advert it's the most annoying advert on the television