I’ve been hearing from you in your droves. The AdTurds postbag is positively throbbing with anger at the new Halifax Wizard Of Oz advert, CGIing a camp Halifax mortgage chap into The Wizard Of Fucking Oz and abusing its ‘There’s No Place Like Home’ catchphrase like a racist brandishing a Union Flag.
The new Halifax advert seems to have caught people genuinely off-guard. Sure the Top Cat and Flintstones adverts were annoying but I’m not sure there’s quite the emotional connection or sense of desecration. Hacking up The Wizard Of Oz to flog mortgages for the banking equivalent of Home Bargains seems a bit like getting Mary Berry to strut around as a ring girl at Connor McGregor’s next fight.
It’s not news that Halifax adverts are among the worst on television – their record over the last 20 years has been worse than Val Kilmer’s film career. Remember the ones where they ran a radio station (Isa Isa baby)? What about the Halifax choir?
This latest set of children’s entertainment rip-offs seemed to confirm Halifax’s view of itself as the Crazy Gang of the banking sector, but why would anyone want to entrust their money to a zany bank?
Fred Flintstone wants to switch bank accounts. Top Cat can’t get a mortgage anywhere else on the high street. Why? I dunno. Why Harambe? Because we can, seems to be Halifax’s response.
And now we have a Halifax Wizard Of Oz advert, where Dorothy and her unlikely back-up squad. Halifax approves mortgages for tinmen, scarecrows and even lions, apparently, in what appears to be a grossly irresponsible lending policy. No wonder Britain is mortgaged up to the hilt: Halifax has been giving out money hand over fist to fictional characters.
Theis new Halifax Wizard Of Oz Advert doesn’t even make any sense. The Welsh chap representing the bank can’t even approve a mortgage for Dorothy. Oh, I guess there’s a ‘no place like home’ pay-off that just about makes sense of the MGM trappings but fundamentally it’s just another example of nostalgia appropriation by the dead hand of advertisers.
But as yet another childhood-mining advert eviscerates your feel glands I’ve realised something. I don’t much care. Because this is advertising in a nutshell. If you like something and it’s popular and it can be used to encourage you to do something that earns someone else some money, you can bet your bottom dollar – or your bottom for that matter – someone is going to weaponise it and use it against you.
Our key details – age, wage, families – are already known by any business who has a few quid to spare. Business is only going to know more and more about us. Every page you visit on the internet? Logged. Your physical location at any time of the day? Tracked. Your likely voting intentions, biases and fears? Predicted. What you buy at the supermarket? Shared. Sexual orientation, peccadilloes, porn habits? Old news. All of them are up for grabs.
And where might this lead us? Targeted adverts addressing us by name? Talking about our families? Zeroing in on our every insecurity and foible? Think I’m exaggerating? It’s nearly ten years since Nike used an audio recording of Tiger Woods’ dead father whenthe golfer was on the comeback trail, after all.
People are very worried about what information governments hold on them. And that’s not something I take lightly. But have you any idea what Tesco, Amazon or Facebook knows about you? Why don’t we worry about what business knows about us too? And what it might do with that knowledge.
If you thought the Halifax Wizard Of Oz advert was depressing, disrespectful – invasive even – it’s nothing compared to what advertising is going to do with its file on you in years to come.