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Hello, it’s been a while. I popped out for nappies and forgot who I was for the last three years.
I looked at the hellscape of 2020 and I wondered what the point was. Also I became a Dad, therefore trading sleep, inspiration and cognitive function for eternal genetic slavery to a mini-me that is comfortably the most disorientating, exhausting and expensive thing I have ever done that resulted from having sex.
With a pandemic to add to the equation, everything else paled into insignificance, especially the new Windows Direct advert. But I sensed, like Batman coming out of a particularly long sulk, that I was once again needed. I looked around and, bafflingly, things were even more shit than they were when I was juggling a newborn, a full-time job, and a non-functioning N95 respirator the government had paid Michelle Mone £36m for. I rose from the couch, groaned at my bad back and promptly sat down again. And then I started typing…
With Christmas barely farted out onto the sofa of “I’m not ready to go back to work yet’, it’s tempting to think of the modern Tory Party as a particularly awful Dickensian construct playing out the worst update of A Christmas Carol yet. If it were a Dickens character it would be called Obadiah Slyme. The UK still feels like it’s trying to shrug off the deathly hand of its very own three ghosts of 2022, only this time instead of trying to make a miserable person happy, they were… well, you can probably see where this is going.
And what a trio they make. Johnson, the shambling old, sexually-incontinent duvet filled with pumps; Truss, the class dunce who think’s she’s actually headmistress; and Rishi Sunak, a man who embodies small dick energy by simple virtue of his height and, well, being a dick.
It’s perhaps no coincidence I started this blog in earnest in 2010 – and arguably it’s been more useful than the official opposition during that time. When Sunak and the last four Prime Ministers were asked whether they thought the Conservative Party had governed the country well over the last 13 years only 20% ‘somewhat agreed’ with that sentiment, with three of them going for ‘don’t know’ and a confused Truss simply writing “Liz Truss” on the ballot.
What’s this got to do with the adverts, then? For me it’s increasingly hard to distinguish where all the Bad Things start and end. Media, politics, war, Instagram, TikTok, OnlyFans, Jake Paul, Andrew Tate, Nigel Farage… we’re all advertisers now (also let’s pray that’s the last time we see OnlyFans and that braying, warm-beer-quaffing grifter mentioned in the same sentence).
Humanity seems fully signed up to the arms race of making everything baffling, unreal and terrifying because people are so much easier to control when they’re frightened (hello Verisure), stupid (hi Twitter) – or have literally no idea what to believe (that’ll be you, Asynchronous Warfare). The Northern Boys’ viral hit Party Time – with its exploration of rampant substance abuse, cheap sex and eventual suicide seems like the only sensible prescription for our current omnishambles.
Advertising – and what all the world’s lunatics gleaned from it – is the most obvious weapon used against us. Black is white, up is down and Suella Braverman isn’t a fictional witch made real whose only genuine enjoyment in life is the fanny flutter she gets when a migrant boat capsizes in the Channel. Our dystopia is real and it’s now – and we’re swallowing it down with lashings of Deliveroo, Amazon and that stupid Youtuber drink.
Well I’m not buying what they’re selling. And – at the insistence of at least 30 people – I’m back, pending fatherly responsibilities. Here are your worst adverts of 2022.
Asda / Elf advert
If spaff-drenched incels can convincingly AI Emma Watson’s face onto a spitroasted porn star, why on Earth can’t Asda do any better than a BBC-era Red Dwarf approximation of Will Ferrell talking awkwardly to some of their zero-hours-contracted staff while discussing Cif?
The concept here is not new: you remember this, you like this, so we’ll destroy it for you. But why must this stuff look as bad as an 90s advert that photoshops Ian Wright into a Martin Luther-King speech?
Will Ferrell has probably got a fucking packet, but can anyone muster the semblance of belief that the unnervingly tall Hollywood superstar could even set foot in one of Asda’s glorified meat raffles without chundering directly into the faces of anyone within a radius of 50 feet?
Santander advert – Bank of Ant & Dec
Is this the year lovable scamps Ant & Dec jumped the shark? The fun-sized TV hosts have endured a rocky patch of late, first with The One With The Forehead going public with his drink problems, and subsequently the twosome overseeing what looked like a post-apocalyptic version of perennial favourite I’m A Celebrity on a wet weekend near Rhyl. Still, having offal dumped on your head at an abandoned castle in return for a half a cabbage and a dead pigeon felt like invaluable prep for pandemic-ravaged, post-Brexit Britain.
The Geordie Geuo have been pretty careful to avoid advertising anything much over the years – beyond their hair transplants – no doubt being mindful of the value of their capital. In a poll of ‘most trustworthy celebrities’, Ant & Dec beat off competition from the likes of Captain Tom, the Ghost of Terry Wogan and even God. So the tykes must have thought long and hard before committing to this tortured Bank of AntandDec campaign, which sees them pretending to run a bank or something.
Santander says it has made customers 3% more likely to not brick their windows. The question is, is this the moment the country starts falling out of love with the Tyneside twerps? No-one stays at the top forever, after all.
Ant – it must be said – must be finding it increasingly hard to pull off the ‘cheeky youngster who is escorting your daughter to the Prom’ shtick, increasingly resembling a sad Toby jug topped off with a mound of sculpted chocolate ice-cream that’s adorning an out-of-reach shelf in a country pub. Only 25 more Jungles to go, lads.
Schofield / We Buy Any Car advert
I’m utterly impervious to the supposed delights of Phillip Schofield, a man I have detested since his broom cupboard days, when he ruled the airwaves as a frightening combination of hospital radio disc jockey and President of Plymouth University’s LGBT Conservatives club.
Schofield is, of course, one of those people you’re not allowed to dislike – much like Olivia Colman or Willy Wonka. But his reinvention as some sort of ironic television legend sticks in my craw. Whether he’s sharing a selfie with Boris Johnson, pretending to corpse over a carrot shaped like a cock on This Morning or being a knob to Carter USM I find the man deeply irritating. And that’s before the last five years of adverts for the much-hated WeBuyAnyCar (a company whose entire value proposition is that it pays you under the odds for your car) that pitch him somewhere between Yoda, Buddha and Eusebio.
Still, 2022 wasn’t all bad. Having jumped the queue to stare at a corpse, he was swiftly dumped by WeBuyAnyCar for a TikTok personality – perhaps the only job title more damning than ‘local character’. Schofield – or Supreme Lord Schofe as we will all be forced to call him in whatever Hellish dystopia 2023 has in store for us – has 4.4 MILLION followers on Twitter. Reflect on that and tell yourself we’re not totally fucked.
Ian Botham Revitive advert
With the quiet determination of a man intent on shitting over whatever’s left of his legacy comes Lord Beefy Botham of Brexit, lumbering across a field with all the elan of a concrete sumo wrestler. He’s here to extol – or not – the possible advantages of the Revitive Circulation Booster, a device that could stop your legs hurting. Or not.
Quite whether a man who is clearly morbidly obese is the best person to extol the advantages of Revitive is up to the company, though they might have expected him to deliver his lines with slightly more panache than an Ikea Billy bookcase. And to anyone who has followed Botham on Twitter, it’s certainly not obvious that he needs any help with blood circulation.
Marc Jacobs / Daisy advert
Is there a less deserving smugness that’s the unearned self-satisfaction of perfume adverts? They all give the impression of being on on a massive joke you’re not invited to be part of – and indeed they are. Because you could throw a dart into any of those shelves at the local B&M and hit a bottle that is more expensive by weight that enriched uranium. That’s the joke – there’s this smelly stuff you don’t actually want that costs more than a 2kg tub of Flora that you’re going to end up buying anyway. You’re not in on it because you’re the mark. The Marc Jacobs advert makes it explicit: they’re laughing at you.
I’m reminded of Matt Hancock – the man Harold Shipman would’ve aspired to be; the man who invented the most harrowing bushtucker trial of all, namely to be immunocompromised in a care home and then have hot Covid poured over your head – basking in the soupy embrace of I’m A Celebrity, nourished by the empty validation of telly-poll voters spattering all over his hairless, underdeveloped chest and childlike but still thinning pate.
You just know Hancock – a man up to his neck in stuff a lot more filthy than wallaby bell-ends – will take his meagre outback triumph and parade it as justification for his entire way of life, his party’s disastrous handling of Covid, a whole ideology. He’s never going to have that smile wiped off his face, no matter how unjust, how utterly unfair, that is. And that’s what makes this Marc Jacobs advert so infuriating. There will never be any comeuppance, not for Matt Hancock – and not for whoever came up with daisy, daisy, daisy or the hordes of idiots who exist in the whole wretched industry.
In this blog’s heyday the airwaves were packed with adverts that were explicitly designed to annoy. That trend seems to have largely disappeared, but there’s always one, eh? Domino’s Pizza – pound-for-pound the most expensive material in the known universe after anti-matter – fulfils the same function in my life as service stations and Wetherspoons toilets: usually something related to my stomach and only when absolutely unavoidable.
This alleged takeaway business, which seems largely in the business of delivering cold food matter incorrectly and several weeks late, certainly has chutzpah. In this latest advert featuring the infuriating Domino’s yodel – a sound even worse than listening to Julia Hartley-Brewer achieve orgasm – the company delivers some steaming hot pizza to three castaway guys at the mere sound of the summoning cry.
To anyone who has waited, fruitlessly, for their very expensive pizzas from this company to turn up only for it arrive colder than the icy heart of Dominic Raab and all squashed against one side of the pizza box like Harry Redknapp’s face, the yodelling adverts where piping hot pizzas show up faster than Tommy Robinson at a terrorist atrocity are like corporate trolling in ad format.
Hyularonic acid / L’Oreal advert
“It’s just a word made up to make shampoo important,” howls Simon Pegg in Spaced (still the definitive record of my life from 2000-2003) when Jessica Hynes mentions PRO-V. Look it up and Pantene has a web page swooningly describing how ‘Swiss doctors’ stumbled upon the miracle cure for, er, dirty hair in the 40s and now it’s used by every single female in the world, including Miriam Margoyles.
Fast forward to 2022 and we need a new PRO-V, in case we forget how important shampoo really is. It’s hyularonic acid, the secret weapon in encouraging 33-year-old women to shell out a monthly EDF Energy bill’s worth in dollar pounds in the hope that their personal trainer looks up from his Insta account while forcing them toward their 50th squat.
In this ad the phonetics of hyularonic acid are explained in just the same way the supposed health benefits aren’t by a collective noun of 30-40-something American MILFs who look a couple of drinks away from explaining exactly why Trump was right about the Mexican wall all along.
Arla milk advert
There’s a very good reason why we don’t tend to enjoy the sound of real people singing, and that reason is that is that most people are fucking shit at singing. But in these relatable times we’d rather hear a tone-deaf junior accountant from Runcorn hailing the dubious delights of washing liquid than, say, Hayley Westenra because few of us can imagine an opera singer puzzling over whichever setting on the washing machine might be cheaper than a holiday to the Llŷn peninsula whilst also ensuring their bra doesn’t bobble.
It doesn’t matter that ‘real people singing’ is a phenomenon less inviting than a Piers Morgan column on unisex toilets, because we’re all tired of experts now. So we have to suffer through these ‘real farmers’ guffing something even worse into the atmosphere than the stuff from their cows’ arseholes that will condemn us all to societal collapse. Thanks a bunch Michael Gove.
Halifax advert – Stand By Me
Remember when banks weren’t our friends? When they were like austere headmasters who would just as soon give you a slippering then lend you twenty quid? Frankly I preferred them that way – you knew what you were getting – rather than the gaslighting friend who pretends they actually like you, rather than being a useful crutch when their favoured pals are away on holiday.
The creepy ‘let’s hang out’ vibe of modern bank adverts is the most overt manifestation of the shameless dishonesty of describing a relationship that is more akin to serf and robber baron: the banks fuck our economy to make their bosses richer – and we pay for it. In that context these ads are akin to a emotionally manipulative fair-weather friend sliding into your DMs late at night offering empty platitudes and vacant promises of commitment that you’ll read in the full knowledge they will ghost you the second you suggest going out for a pint because your relationship has ended.
Again with the genuinely sinister bank adverts. This one for Lloyds has the gloss, the swelling music and the total lack of awareness of a North Korean vanity project – all it’s missing are a million goose-stepping soldiers, a nuclear missile and a dubious wig. Nevermind the fact that Lloyds’ recent history is sketchier than Kanye West’s, the bank seems under the impression it is about as beloved as David Attenborough to the British public rather than reality of, say, the bloke who runs P&O Ferries.
I’ll leave it to Craig Ferguson, over on Facebook, to sum up the utter ghastliness of it all: “…[T]he sheer, unadulterated psychopathy of a sterile, profiteering dead-behind-the-eyes monolith attempting to manipulate you into thinking it’s your friend. It’s fucking terrifying.”
Worst adverts of 2022 – vote
OK, I’ve done my duty. Now it’s over to you. Vote for the worst adverts of 2022.
worst adverts of 2022