ITV’s Best Adverts Of The Decade

As has become more apparent of late, I do like some adverts. As it’s the end of the decade it’s the season for ‘best of’ lists looking back over the last ten years. Inevitably, rather than do something more interesting like putting an angry Charlie Brooker in a room with some ad execs, there’s a perfunctory ‘best 20 ads of the decade’-type programme tonight titled ITV’s Best Adverts Of The Decade.

ITV's Best Adverts Of The Decade

All of the choices are pretty obvious, which is not to say they’re not good, by and large. Frankly the programme doesn’t do them justice, nor do the awful talking heads who contribute absolutely fuck all to our appreciation or understanding of the ads.

Some people called Mark Charnock, Andrew Castle, Sharon Marshall, Jonny Vegas (actually I like Jonny Vegas), Stephen Mulhern, Anthony Worrall-Thompson, Claire Beale, Paul Ross, Kym Marsh, Duncan Bannatyne and some dancing kid compete to be the biggest twunt on display.

Astonishingly it’s not Paul Ross, but Andrew Castle – a man with all the charm and searing insight of a pile of dog shit. Anyway, I’ve collected them all below, along with my own pithy opinions of the ads in question.

ITV’s Best Adverts Of The Decade

Halifax – Howard

No, no, no, no, no. Fuck no.

Budweiser – Wassup!


Cadbury’s eyebrows


John Smiths Peter Kay adverts

Funny, probably Peter Kaye’s best work.

Carlsberg – Old Lions

Brilliant, lovely to see everyone’s favourite old footie players in action one more time.

Waterslide – Barclays

Event ads jump the shark. Patronising, twee and fairly disingenuous drivel.

Volkswagen Golf GTi – Singin in the Rain

An undisputed classic.

Sure For Men – Stunt City

Quite amusing.

Sony Bravia – Balls

A nice ad that looks phenomenal.

Citroen C4 – Transformer

Fun, funky, French. Stone-cold classic.

PG Tips – Monkey and Al

Quite funny.

Sony Bravia – Paint

Quite pleasant.

John West – Bear

Quite amusing.

T-Mobile Dance

This first example of flash mob advertising is quite good.

Guinness – Tipping Point

I’ve long since tired of Guinness’ smug, ethnic vibe. And it’s a rip-of of the far-superior Cog.

Cadbury’s – Gorilla

Quite funny.

Skoda Fabia – Cake


Honda – Cog

It had to be. It’s not my personal favourite but it’s a slice of fried gold.

Compare the Meerkat

Funny and gains points for subverting an awful genre, but rapidly becoming tiresome.


Well observed, but hardly the best ad of the last ten years.

The Stupid Dad Meme


Featured in an advert along with your family? Wrong side of 40? Bald? Fat? Regional accent? Then I have some bad news. The very thought of you makes your wife feel sick or pitying. Your kids hate you. You’re shit at your job. You can’t do DIY. Now that you have passed on your genes you are, essentially useless. You’re a stupid Dad.

Ads have always needed a fall-guy. Women were hideously ridiculed even a couple of decades ago; generally targeted for their apparent stupidity. Even in the 80’s women could be portrayed as fairly dumb without a hint of irony, but by the last decade of the 20th century that particular brand of chauvinism went the way of smoking adverts, the Hofmeister bear and tea-drinking chimps.

I’m sure if you go back far enough and look long enough there are ads that are explicitly racist and homophobic too, but nowadays it’s really only men who get it in the neck in ads. The Stupid Dad meme started to gain traction in the 90’s, when notions of sexism eventually caught up with the ad industry. In search of another butt of jokes about stupidity and uselessness, advertising turned to Dads.

Sure, you can make all sorts of arguments about the male gaze with no little basis, but women are off-limits to the ad creative if you want to make someone look clumsy, oafish or generally the punchline of a joke.

The Stupid Dad has several key characteristics. Generally it pays to have a Stupid Dad with a regional accent. This makes the Stupid Dad look more stupid.He must be obviously middle-aged, balding or bald, fat, decidedly stupid and unashamedly emasculated. Every Stupid Dad has clearly been castrated by his wife. Perhaps from time to time the kids taunt the Stupid Dad by throwing his unattached testicles to each other while he looks on haplessly.

Another key trait is that the Dad must be made to look stupid in the advert, preferably by his wife or small kids. This usually occurs when the Dad ridicules the product being sold. This reinforces the idea that to not buy this product you must be a bit of an arsehead.

There are several adverts that recently subscribed to the Stupid Dad meme: the Sainsburys Pork Chilli ad; some Butlins ads from about a year ago; and some ads that seem to be trying to encourage some vague form of environmentalism.

Probably the most offensive version of the Stupid Dad meme is a Somerfield advert from late 2007. Here, John is made out to be a complete duffer and publicly humiliated by his wife, Rose, for forgetting some groceries. The pair have now left our screens, probably due to the fact that John eventually snaps and stoves Rose’s head in with a frozen leg of lamb.

I don’t subscribe to the idea that the only persecuted demographic in the UK is the white working-class male, usually an excuse for racists to bemoan the fact that they’re not allowed to say n*****, but try putting any ethnic minority, child, woman, OAP, homosexual or otherwise-abled person in the Stupid Dad role and there’d be mayhem.

It’s a curious, if fairly harmless, double standard that rather seems to reflect the way the middle-aged man is shaping up in society. Beyond their pro-creational use they’re permanently bemused, technophobic, balless, sad and despised. The real role of the Stupid Dad is simply to be utterly redundant.

Some international Stupid Dads