I’m sure there was a time when Iceland wasn’t the cheapest shop on the block. By cheapest I don’t necessarily mean least expensive; just the tackiest, the least classy.
What makes it even more bizarre is that Iceland blazed a trail in its sourcing of organic veg and progressive stances on GM foods, additives and the like.
Arguably, Iceland took its eye off what its customers wanted at this point, but the volte-face has seen Iceland adopting the kind of stack-em-high approach of bargain basement stores – and them some.
This about-turn was heralded with an overhaul in its branding, unapologetically going downmarket and trumpeting ‘value’ (viz. cheapness) above all, with a parade of celebs best described as easy to relate to. Think Kerry Katona, one of the Nolans, Christopher Biggins and, finally, Jason Donovan.
Iceland’s 2010 Christmas offering sees a calvacade of its bizarre party food – think king prawn spoons, mini Yorkshire pudding with roast beef that look obscene, a fucking Baileys dome gateau – with can-canning Mums and Jason Donovan as a sado-masochistic master of ceremonies.
The other night I watched an ad break that had four or five variations of this Iceland ad, sandwiched between adverts for other brands. It was vaguely nightmarish.
This is classic all-out assault advertising – noisy, colourful, fast, bizarre – with two familiar songs, the latter of which, rather obnoxiously is stone-cold classic 20th Century Boy.
But there’s something more than that. I find this advert oddly sinister; there’s a weird undercurrent to it all, perhaps because of the overall violence of the thing.
It’s easy to imagine the whole thing speeding up and speeding up; the dancing and singing becoming more frantic and twisted. The camera pulling back to reveal Donovan, dancing in slow motion, naked from the waist down and nursing a stiffy.
A slaughterhouse staffed by can-can-ing Iceland staff, frantically butchering hundreds of chickens in an attempt to keep the Iceland freezers stocked up with cheap food.
But, wait, what’s this? These aren’t pickled onions… they’re eyes. Human eyes. The chicken balls are screaming. And these prawns are still alive, sliding around on a silver platter, proffered by a tarty housewife with dead eyes.
A David Lynch nightmare on an ITV budget. A thousand squawking ‘Mums’, a production line of animals being turned into tasteless boxed foodstuffs and Donovan – mouth smeared with chocolate and breadcrumbs and mayo just laughing and laughing and laughing…
NB. Iceland’s adverts were brilliantly lampooned by Vic and Bob in Shooting Stars in the Coldland skit earlier this year.