ITV’s Ad of the Year 2011

ITV’s Ad of the Year really is a quite remarkable conceit – a programme on a channel funded by advertising telling you how great advertising is. Interspersed with adverts.

It’s fiendishly clever, in a way that the people responsible can only be baddies and must be machine-gunned to death by a ‘double O’ agent to make things right. That’s probably unlikely to happen, so you’ll have to settle for my efforts.

Ben Shepherd sells it like he’s narrating a royal wedding; Lorraine Kelly does her level best to look like the stupidest person who ever existed; a parade of ad bods prove to be various shades of annoying.

The most interesting thing about all this is wondering how ITV comes up with these ads. Going through them I realised I’ve literally never seen about one in five of them.

I don’t watch vast amounts of television, but you’d think if there were going to be adverts featured in a ‘best adverts of the year’ TV show, someone who blogs on adverts might have seen them.

Anyway, until we see ITV’s working I think it’s best if we all assume that there’s some sort of financial bribery involved.

These are the top 20 best ads for 2011, according to a panel of ITV viewers. I’m with Sid Vicious when it comes to the man on the street.

The Sun – Football brought to life

Rotoscoping was invented by The Sun, apparently. Terry Venables dribbles a load of cliched footy waffle out.

“It was like an explosion but with the beauty of a dance,” says Vegetables. What a load of shit.

It looks nice, but it’s for vile hate-mongering filth-sheet The Sun, so it must be absolutely horrible. Go away.

Walls sausages dog thing

The dog who sounds like The Streets who apologises for useless men. Hated this from the outset.

‘Behind the scenes’ stuff in the ad included all sort of hideously banal details that would make you want to go out and nut a heron.

Dior – J’adore

Charlize Theron meets Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe etc. I have literally never seen this on television, so how did ITV viewers decide it was the 18th best ad of the year?

Bafflingly, the ad creators refuse to divulge how they shot the ad. Something involving time travel, presumably. I literally cannot think of any other way.


Like the concept; hate the execution. Horrible whiny-voiced band.

Kronenbourg 1664

Love these ads; don’t care what anyone says. Music is great, ambiance wonderful; oddness intact, everyone love Suggs.


Kid dances with teddies. Another ad I’ve literally never seen before. What gives? Arlene Philips talks about the dancing teddies on the programme. Jesus.


Corgis search for television. Literally never seen this. Lorraine Kelly think this ad ‘very very good’. We get to listen to the owners of the dogs. For crying out loud.


Clothes dance. Literally never seen it. Arlene Philips lends vital – and I do mean vital – insight into what it’s like to dance while dressed as a pair of trousers. The hair transplant man from a talent show was ‘bowled over’.

Old Spice

This is a genuine classic. Razor-sharp lines that are totally on the button. Brilliant. Wonderfully pulled off. Mel Sykes basically reveals that she gets wet when this ad comes on.


The JR Hartley ad updated. Don’t think this works. Not especially charming, though well done.

Heineken – the entrance

Despise this music, so can’t like this advert. Yes, yes, well done.

People on the programme express amazement over the choreography. Pathetic.

Lynx – Sexy boy

Angels fall to Earth, remove halos in search of man who smells of gas. It’s kinda the sort of thing that Lynx does. Whether you think that makes it brilliant probably depends on whether you read Nuts, or work in advertising. Smell is important, says Mel Sykes.

Hovis – Farmer’s Race

Literally never seen this. Farmers run. Quite nice. ‘Real farmers’ were actually involved. Fuck me.

John Lewis – Through the ages

I genuinely don’t get John Lewis adverts. They seem to work, but why? All they do is borrow good stuff from other people. Certainly there’s a skill involved in picking music, but it’s all such a shamelessly obvious tactic.

We’re supposed to believe that everyone cries when they see these ads. Let’s not overstate the case here – these are well-made ads but there’s nothing novel about them.

“Brilliantly uses music,” says Arlene Phillips. For the love of Christ.

Also, the ad ends with The Kooks, who are obviously fucking shit.

British Airways – The Aviators

Fuck right off. This is an absolute fucking disgrace. It’s insulting. It’s disingenuous. It’s totally shameless. Despicable, awful, hideous. Dreadful. I’m not kidding. (Read my original post on this – the biggest wank ever wanked ).

Cancer Research UK

A powerful advert, no doubt. I like ads like this for charities that show you real lives – and show you the upside to charitable works.

Aldi Xmas adverts

Like these. Real people. In and out fast. Not too twee. Well done.

VW Darth Vader ads

Brilliant fun, really well done though I still struggle to connect the product with the ad. See if you can name the car. Bet you can’t.

T-Mobile – Parking Ticket

Fake traffic wardens befriend motorists. The sort of thing that might raise a flicker of interest for four seconds during your lunch break. No doubt people in advertising will tell us how astonishingly clever this is.

I do like the actors in it though.

Cravendale – Cats with thumbs

Walking cats. Meh.

Last year I described this as drowning in warm bovril while Lorraine Kelly and Ben Shepherd coo in your ear. This year, more like a load of boardroom suits patting your fevered brow while relieving you of your wallet.

The worst advert of 2011: Results

Haribo then. It had to be really, even with the incredibly strong late challenge put up by Littlewoods (undoubtedly the worst Christmas ad of the year), who couldn’t really have done any more to win the title of Worst Advert of 2011 if it had executed an old man in a Santa outfit live on air.

Haribo. It sounds like it stands for something. Ha-ve R-ubberI-sed Bo-ogers? Thinking on, that seems unlikely but it may as well as far as I’m concerned, it may as well. I hate Haribo, I think the sweets are horrible. But I hate their 2011 Supermix advert more for all the same reasons. Gooey, overly sweet, artificial and indigestible.

The Drum asked Haribo exactly what they were playing at with the Supermix advert, to which they replied with the following:

“The new advert is certainly attracting a great deal of attention. We intended that it would be a fun, memorable and catchy karaoke style sing-along, which is exactly what it is.

Let’s examine this statement. The advert, Haribo concedes, is attracting “a great deal of attention”.

That’s a fairly coy statement in relation to the torrent of hate the ad generated, including a staggering 1,849 dislikes on Youtube, dwarfing ‘likes’ by around six-to-one. The average ratio of likes to dislikes is around 20-to-one on video channels.

There’s at least three Facebook groups set up to disparage the advert. A forum called Britain’s Biggest Cunts has a section on the ad called Haribo Chewing Cunts. It certainly seems reasonable to suggest that the advert is attracting a great deal of attention.

What next? Well, agency TBC Inc says it’s a “fun, memorable and catchy karaoke style sing-along”. Memorable and catchy? Yup – in the same way that a particularly unpleasant dose of dysentery is memorable and easy to catch.

Karaoke-style singalong? Well, if it was a particularly hellish karaoke in a David Lynch nightmare, perhaps.

“Haribo is a family brand and we have a mass market audience and appeal, at the heart of everything we do is fun, whether that’s tongue in cheek or playful.”

At this point I could mention the allegations, levelled at Haribo, of using forced Jewish slave labour during the Second World War but that would be a bit crass.

Does this have mass-market appeal? It’s certainly on the radar of a lot of people, but whether putting out an advert that’s universally despised is good marketing is a moot point (and one I’ve mused on before here).

What’s more interesting is whether this is supposed to be “playful or tongue-in-cheek”. Which is it? The former, an earnest attempt to make something ‘playful’? Or the latter, a deliberate attempt to make something awful? I’m plumping for the latter as I don’t believe even the most simple-minded savant could feasibly come up with something as artless as this.

What is more interesting than the ad itself is what happened to it. All of a sudden it was missing from the schedules and the previous ad – Interrogation – was back on the telly.

Did Haribo decide, all of a sudden, that their karaoke-style singalong was not just annoying the very tits off people, those tits were orbiting the Earth at a very high level of the atmosphere, as far distant from their owners as Haribo sweets are from being delicious sugary treats? Surely not something so fun and playful? Who’s to say.

Suffice to say I thought it hideous – adverts that set out to put me in a bad mood frequently make me feel that way. It’s nauseating, bizarre, shrill and – worst of all -affected.

Yes, I think it’s the fact that this is all so arch and post-modern and deliberately inane that makes it so terrible. I thought some of this year’s worst ads were more egregious on an aesthetic level – and others more misguided – but certainly this is the most purely annoying.

Don’t take my word for it though – Haribo was streets ahead of its nearest competitor, in numerical terms, by the end of the vote despite duking it out with Littlewoods for a while.

AdTurds readers have spoken – and they have spoken of their displeasure at “Oh so smooth, love them soft” (an I didn’t even get around to those vile pornographic subtexts).

Internet justice – the most useless, fulminating, empty, unreasoning and fleetingly-satisfying justice of all – has been delivered. Fuck you, Haribo. Fuck you all the way to Hades.

Now let us never speak of it again.

Read the original Haribo AdTurd

The rest of 2011

Littlewoods gave Haribo a great run for its money, as did Gillette, which kept falling away then regaining lost ground. I suspect that little man’s voice from the latter, reverberating around living rooms, became something of a Pavlovian stimulus to many over the year.

Further down were – a particular dislike of mine – perennial overachievers Halifax and Marks and Spencer for its X-Factor ad. I didn’t dislike the latter that much, but I thought it a terrible idea. I’m still surprised that it registered so highly though.’s horrible adverts were next up – and then the BMW Lund one, which were probably the genuine worst adverts of the year for money, in terms of what I reckon they did for the brand.

All the others got a good few votes each, apart from Eurostar with a single vote.

‘Others’ – for there was the opportunity to vote for one’s own bete noir – did pretty well too, with quite a few suggestions. Go Compare fared well here, as did a late run for the Argos alien sperms – along with a couple of others such as Pepsi Max that has somehow escaped me over the year.

Still, a new year and all that. I can barely wait to be irritated by an all-new crop in 2012. Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Other choices

Go Compare
Compare the Market
Head and Shoulders / Jenson Button
Cadbury Dairy Milk – The Final Countdown
Pepsi Max Office Men
Mazuma Mobile advert from March/April
Game – Babies
j20 glitter berry camp lock-in
Boots “Here Comes The Girls”
Heineken “Bassanova” Utter turd
That PlusNet fat bastard