Anything that’s masquerades as ironic in advertising is not funny. That’s an important first principle in Ad-Turd-Land.
Anyone who finds adverts that are pitched as deliberately cheesy and/or annoying is an idiot. That’s a second.
The makers of Cillit Bang advert are primarily responsible for a new concept in advertising: the ad that sets out deliberately to set your teeth on edge, make you clench your first, or possibly take out your physical frustration on animals, housemates or even yourself.
This one wasn’t the first, but it popularised the concept. If you have minimum brand penetration, little money to spend and an utterly boring product one of the obvious routes to boring yourself into people’s minds is to simply annoying the fuck out of them. It does not seem unlikely that the stupid name is supposed to make you think it’s called ‘Clit Bang.’
Imagine some of the events in your life that are most memorable, the ones of which you have total recollection: stepping on a nail; breaking a bone; being run over. Immense physical or psychological discomfort is always memorable – adverts like this one work on the same basis.
There’s almost something Pavlovian about it. The very sight or sound of ‘Barry Scott’ – a made-up loud-voiced character who exists solely to annoy – makes me break out in hives. The very idea of him makes me wring my hands.
Watching it once isn’t enough to give you the full impact. Adverts are an annoyance in themselves, interrupting your train of thought when immersed in something enjoyable. It’s like relaxing in a warm comfortable bath, only to have Piers Morgan walk in every 15 minutes to have a dump.
So, an advert break sets the nerves jangling already, and then Barry Scott arrives. The first time it’s puzzling, the second time it’s already unfunny, the third time it’s enraging.
Someone has created this advert simply to piss you off, and that makes it more annoying. There will come a point where you’ve seen the advert 100 times, and you start to crack in the face of a repeat viewing.
But the advert on its own is simply the start of the horror. Newspaper articles start to dissect its appeal. It unfathomably appears on Youtube as a video you might like. Students, bloody students, start wearing Barry Scott t-shirts.
And then the whole thing enters a terrible new phase. There are new adverts featuring Barry Scott. Ringtones. Shit sketches making even unfunnier versions.
Because you hate it so much you notice it that much more. Cillit Bang has reached critical mass. Hundreds of thousands of people have been irritated beyond belief, and somewhere in London an underpaid creative working for an ad company is sniffing a line of coke off a toilet cistern.