Tesco was the runaway winner of the poll to find the worst advert of 2015. By such a long way that it garnered almost four times as many votes as its closest rival, Clean Bandit’s quite hideous Cortana advert and a full 35% higher than a third-placed late addition – the Virgin Media advert.
This is by far the biggest win of any terrible advert over the last seven years, but I’m going out on a limb to suggest that Tesco’s ubiquity around the time the poll has somewhat skewed the results. Was it really worse than the Clean Bandit Cortana advert? The godawful Haribo ad where they talk in children’s voices? Or the utterly vile Andrex ‘gold pants’ ad? For my money no, but there’s certainly something interesting going on here.
The rather swaggering way that Tesco went into this ad campaign – believing it had ‘permission to be funny‘ and that there was a ‘latent love of the brand’ – only to be met with a wall of visceral hatred reminded me of the grisly way the Ceaușescus went to their doom in 1989. Waving and smiling to a crowd one minute; machine-gunned up against a wall the next.
Hyperbole? Just take a look at the comments on this Facebook post, which contains just one image of actor Will Close (the annoying son to Ruth Jones and Ben Miller in the Tesco adverts) and nothing more. A calvacade of hatred.
My theory on this is that our suspicion of government, banks and big business is finally catching up with authority figures. It’s why Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP have become more popular; why the High Street is having such a terrible time; why we burn effigies of politicians and bankers. The old orders are being disrupted.
It’s not so established that we’re actually leaving our banks or shopping at co-operatives – instead we vent our frustration in more symbolic ways. We’re unlikely to vote out a Tory government virtually everyone believes is horrible but we’re sure as Hell going to throw eggs at them. Tesco and the like – all those big, familiar brands – can expect a rougher ride going forward.
20 years ago Tesco had Prunella Scales and Jane Horrocks doing the exact same thing as Miller, Jones and Close. And it was seen as part of Tesco’s undeniable elevation to the king of the edgeland-megastore; the vanguard of a movement that killed off our limping town centres. Skip forward to today and Tesco is struggling and a set of adverts that do exactly the same thing are utterly despised.
Something has changed. The question for agencies, brands, business – for all of us – is what?
Worst Advert of 2015: Results
Tesco wins with over 44% of the vote, with the Cortana advert a distant second at 12.33% and Virgin Media – a late entry that probably would have claimed the runner-up spot if it had been in the original poll – taking bronze with just under 10%. MadBid was just outside the medals and the only other advert to take more than five per cent of the vote in a very open field. A field of shite, that is.
oak furniture land
Vitality uk dog
Joe Hart Head and Shoulders advert
House of Fraser “Your Christmas your rules”
ALL OF THEM
Apple xmas advert
LA vie est belle
Worst Advert Of The Year: Past winners
Tesco joins AdTurds royalty Wonga, Sainsbury’s, Go Compare, Haribo and Halifax in being voted the worst advert of the year. You can check out results and what I had to say for them below.