Kia Sorento Advert: Bellend Chef

It’s become clear in recent years that professional chefs are some of the worst people on Earth. Yes, even worse than Rupert Murdoch, Piers Morgan and Louise Mensch. Yeah, I know.

These people – frequently to be found berating a hapless reality TV gimp over an incorrectly-pollarded artichoke – are some of the most inconsequential people will ever live, yet they behave as if they are somewhere between brain surgeon and bin-man on the axis of ‘really clever’ and ‘shitness of everyday life without them’. This is what would happen if there were no more self-important chefs in the world all of a sudden: absolutely nothing.

I tell a lie. Because I suspect the general sum of human happiness would shift, ever so incrementally, upwards without them, so much misery are they responsible for. Bafflingly and distressingly we’ve elevated the celebrity chef to a point in our society where almost everyone will defer to them, as if they’re beyond reproach. Soldiers and mothers are the only other segments in British culture who are as untouchable as the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing and Marco Pierre White.

Ramsay is a essentially a sadistic school-master who would not be out of place bawling at a pale child on a rugby pitch; Wareing is a haunted Russian priest and White was surely born in of the pages of a nineties Martin Amis novel. These people are not simply rude, driven or arrogant but appear to be truly appalling creatures: bullying, monomaniacal and seemingly bent on the belief that what they’re doing is of great importance, whereas in reality they’re filleting a stock pigeon and pureeing some asparagus.

The worst of the type are clearly psychopathic, displaying an unnervingly brittle, slightly wide-eyed stare in tandem with spittle-flecked yelling when a school-teacher from Croydon hasn’t sufficiently charred a bream.

Yet they’re treated with the sort of reverence a Lord of the Manor is accorded by a village-green yokel. Clearly this is what we value these days: the ability to be a raging lunatic who is good at cooking puy lentils. If Ramsay thrust the unprotected cheek of an apprentice onto a scorching hot plate and held it there til his face was burned to a caramelised pork scratching, I firmly believe the police would turn a blind eye.

Allowances are made for these self-aggrandising carrot-choppers that would not be made for anyone else in any other walk of life. Time was we threw these people in an asylum; now we give them fire and knives and big contracts with supermarkets and hope they won’t chop our guts up.

And so it is that the elite chef is held up as the sort of person we obviously aspire to be in adverts: the kind of person whose traits – meticulous, driven and murderous – we obviously associate with success. Rather than raging egomaniacal insanity. And thus, here we have Kia Sorento advert, a middling SUV from a brand that is as thrilling as bag of Wotsits.

The message here is fairly clear – if you are a perfectionist; if you believe yourself to be successful and if you’re the kind of person who believes yourself to be a Type-A personality (and, perhaps more crucially, you really believe all that shit is important) you should buy a Kia Sorento. Most advertising tries to appeal to the aspirational drives in people – something we now seem to elevate above social justice, fairness, common sense and our mutual future as a species – in order to sell stuff.

Audi, BMW and Mercedes are particularly good at this sort of stuff and it engenders a phenomenon known as badge snobbery – mentally judging how successful you believe your peers, friends and rivals to be based on what small plastic circle is attached to the front of their car. Regrettably for Kia – and other manufacturers such as Hyundai, Renault and Vauxhall (to name three, among many, at random) – few people aspire to have one of these cars. So we get the shorthand of Personality Disorder Chef to represent success, money and self-esteem.

That we now believe these swivel-eyed samphire botherers, who’d rather slit your throat as serve you egg and chips, to be the acme of human achievement is more evidence that we’ve gone stark staring fucking mad.

The Ageas Bowl? The Kia Oval? The SWALEC? Fuck off

The Rose Bowl. Sofia Gardens. Chester-Le-Street. Headingley. The Oval. What do they have in common? You may not know it but they’re all cricket grounds. But they all share something else in common – they all have bastardised corporate sponsor names that stick in my throat like a piece of semi-masticated beef gristle.

They are now as follows: The Ageas Bowl. The SWALEC Stadium. Emirates Durham ICG. Headingley Carnegie. The Kia Oval. Names as hollow as the regard that a Korean budget car manufacturer actually has for cricket.

Like most sports, cricket is going the way of football in following the scent of hard cash, which is why we have to suffer the horror of Sky’s coverage (Bob Willis, Ian Botham, Ian Ward, Nick KNight, Charles Colville).

No-one in their right mind should ever utter these names – and it was refreshing to hear a couple of England cricketers ignore Mike Atherton’s repeated trumping of ‘the Ageas Bowl’and doggedly refer to it as the Rose Bowl.

Ah, Rose Bowl. A pretty name. It was named after Hampshire’s crest and the curve of the pitch. Nice eh? Not nice enough for Belgium-Dutch multinational insurance company Ageas. If they were stump up some cash (naming rights are sold for surprisingly small amounts of money – Ageas are getting their name read out regularly by chumps like Athers on Sky; name written in national newspapers and plenty of local publicity for a measly £2m over six years) then they were damn well going to transform the club into a piece of corporate art.

Sophia Gardens was named after Sophia Rawdon-Hastings, the wife of a posh Welsh Georgian nob. So, a nice little regional, historical reference. Still, The SWALEC Stadium has a ring to it, eh?

The Oval. So named for its unusual shape – a name going back over 150 years. And, in recent years variously The Fosters Oval, AMP Oval, Brit Insurance Oval. And now named after Kia, who make cheap and utterly tedious little econoboxes. Big connection with all that South London, gas-holder, West-Indian cricket chic.

Headingley Carnegie, meanwhile, breathlessly offers sponsorship of its media centre, which is “now officially Yorkshire’s most globally viewed building” and boasts the following sponsorship opportunities on its website:

Perimeter branding
Stand Naming rights
Logo inclusion on tickets and literature
“Money can’t buy” access to players
Presence on with 90,000 Monthly Unique Visitors
Inclusion in online newsletter
Product awareness stand/sampling opportunities at match days
Branding on the replay screen at every Yorkshire CCC fixture at Headingley Carnegie
Access to tickets
Use of facilities on non match days

Before we move on, just ponder the irony of offering corporate sponsors ‘money-can’t-buy’ access to players. That’s a special kind of bullshit, right there.

Headingley Carnegie isn’t as clear cut as the others, mind. As the ground is owned by the sports-orientated Carnegie University it gets its name on the bill. Fair enough. But renaming stands? Yeah, to hell with Verity, Wardle, Sutcliffe, Hutton, Trueman, Boycott, Close and Gough.

Make way for Stagecoach, Barclays, Sky Sports, Audi, Stella Artois and Vodaphone. Jimmy Anderson is now running in from the BP End at the Enron Bowl.

Inevitable? Maybe. Money for old rope? Certainly. But there’s something enormously dispiriting about it all. If cricket can’t hold out then sport’s doomed. Next we can probably turn to other cash-strapped edifices. The Tango Westminster Abbey. Hadrian’s Wall by G4S. The McDonalds New Forest.

It’s enough to make me weep into my Adidas handkerchief and Nestle Shreddies.