The Worst Adverts of 2013

NB. Skip the next thousand words if you’re just here for the funny stuff

Four hours. That’s how long, if you’re an average Brit, you spend watching television every day. And, if you’re not watching the BBC, that means one whole hour of adverts every day.

There’s a popular misconception that you don’t pay anything when you’re watching ITV or one of the free satellite channels. This is bollocks since you pay what amounts to a television tax at the checkouts when you buy the products you see advertised on television. Of course, if you subscribe to Sky you’re not only creating the very adverts in the first place, you’re also paying for the privilege to watch adverts: a double whammy that seems to be strangely overlooked by licence-fee whingers.

The Diet Coke cumshot
The Diet Coke cumshot

So, an hour of advertising every single day that you’re paying for and also paying someone else to watch. Imagine allowing a door-to-door salesman into your home for an hour a day – and you pay him for the privilege. Or standing in front of a load of billboards for an hour every day – you bought them. Or switching on a television channel for the express purpose of being brainwashed by advertisers for an hour every single day – at a fiver per half hour. 365 hours a year. 16 days. Two weeks. Half a month. Every Sunday you might as well go to the cinema for seven hours just to watch adverts and pay for the privilege. Insane.

I wrote this after a walk through Hartlepool’s town centre – a north-east conurbation that has been shat on from a great height by government policy, town planning and profiteering private landlords grown fat on the benefits of the feckless, ill, terminally unemployable or luckless.

30 pieces of silver
30 pieces of silver

Shorn of any meaningful industry or trades much of the north-east produces virtually nothing of value these days. Jobs mainly exist to service people and in this environment the requirement to sell stuff – necessarily goods of little or no value bought by people with no money on tick – becomes even greater, because without even this meagre trade even the hellish shopping centres and retail parks would be turned into rubble-strewn £2.50-a-visit parking lots.

Pound shops, value marques, charity outlets and even food banks make up much of the town centre. A friend of a friend runs one of those shops that sells food supplements and herbs. Recently his main supplier told him that he couldn’t sell to him any more as he’d become an approved supplier to Holland & Barrett, a place whose clients are nothing if not eclectic, seemingly consisting solely of doormen seeking muscle protein and arthritic pensioners buying St John’s Wort. The whey-protein vendors told him that he would not be allowed to supply anyone else within a certain radius. So another independent retailer is crushed into the dirt, the town becomes a little more homogenous and what little money there is is concentrated in the pockets of multinationals and spirited out of the town.

This watch will give me access to your fanny
This watch will give me access to your fanny

A job for a job, you might think. But that really isn’t the case. Some jobs generate less value, per capita, than others and it’s the big beasts who create the least value. An indie might generate, say, £20,000 a year. A McJob might create only £15,000. So when one of these places boasts of creating 20 new jobs the chances are there’s a net loss in value to the region. Remember that, next time Tesco comes a-calling.

Why is this relevant? Because this system we live in relies on buying more and stuff. Stuff that we don’t need. Stuff created abroad by miserable people for buttons, of material that’s designed to become obsolete within months, requiring us to replace it with more shit. That the end of the line for these ‘goods’ is a place like Hartlepool, full of people with no money, is particularly perverse but it’s become one of the prime money generators in our utterly fucked economy. Buying shit. It’s a little like the last days of Rome, but with a TOWIE onesie instead of a Bacchanalian orgy.

Costa buries its employees
Costa buries its employees

The fuel for this ghastly engine is, of course, advertising. It’s become utterly imperative that we keep purchasing, well beyond our needs or even meaningful desires. Thusly television adverts take on a greater significance. They must make us buy things we neither want nor desire. Our out-of-control demand drives down prices, which means everyone along that chain earns a little less. In doing so we perpetuate a system that destroys jobs, money, value and choice. We’re all racing to the bottom; a fevered, insane dash to pay ourselves less, rob ourselves of hard-fought rights and salve our bruised personalities with holidays, cars and cheap shit – palliatives to block out the horror of it all.

Look around you the next time you’re in a shopping centre, a supermarket or fast food joint. If you’re particularly unlucky you might experience a chilling moment of clarity; a horrible insight into what lies beneath the facades. The Amazon warehouse, the Asian sweatshops, the palm oil plantations, the mines that provide the precious metals for electronics, the vast mechanised slaughterhouses. We’re all complicit in this; we’re born complicit. But we don’t have to like it.

Arse wiping over a cocktail
Arse wiping over a cocktail

Adverts are the devil on our shoulder, whispering that we deserve it, that it’s Christmas; a can of pop, a smartphone, a 12-month subscription to Netflix will complete us. Only adverts are done whispering. Adverts will mislead, pester, guilt-trip and annoy in their efforts to encourage us to cough up, barely stopping short of a metaphorical skull-fucking in terms of the aural assaults adverts increasingly lob at us. Adverts will inveigle and batter their way past your personal spam settings. They’re not simply unskippable on a DVD these days, they’re unskippable in your head. As a concept I find that objectively sinister.

Advertising doesn’t have to be bad. It’s just that advertisers have cottoned on to the fact that bad adverts frequently work better than good adverts. Remember that old maxim about a bad meal, and how you’ll tell ten times more people telling their friends about a negative experience than a good one? We’re wired to remember those details: the slap in the face, the finger in the door, the hair in the soup and that bloody awful tune that we can’t get out of our heads. To be in your heads in what advertisers want, cooing that you deserve a new satnav or imprinting their url on your mind like cattle being branded.

Emotional mcblackmail
Emotional mcblackmail

Advertising pretends to be your friend. It is not. I can’t tell anymore whether it is a symptom of our slavery to the worst excesses of the market or something more sinister: something that is leading us further down to the road to our own anaesthetic stupor; a wanton shoulder-shrug, idle channel-hop and a listless wank.

Ads may sometimes be a bit of fun, they might even be amusing and cheering occasionally. But they are not benign. They are precision-guided missiles aimed directly at your sense of guilt, unhappiness, esteem, self-image and alienation.

You choose to watch them for an hour a day while they try to fuck you up.

In that context, they’re all bad. But these are the worst. Merry Christmas.

Diet Coke advert

Women get wet while humiliating a man.

• Read the original Diet Coke AdTurd

Samsung advert

Oh, hai rapey man with a modern-day Swatch Watch. Even though you look, sound and act like a twat I’m going to give you access to my vagina cos I like your wristphone.

Costa Coffee advert

Bean vendors try to convince us that the minimum-wage slaves they employ give a fuck about your Americano that you actually want milk in.

• Read the original Costa Coffee AdTurd

Santander advert

A bank makes stalkers live with sportspeople. Most of them seem to have some sort of alarming crush on said sportspeople now; at the beginning it was the other way round. There’s some relationship dynamics right there. Expect Jessica Ennis’ head to be found in a bucket soon.

• Read the original Santander AdTurd

Andrex advert

Simply the worst advert of all time. Or, if you will, a shit ad.

• Read the original Andrex AdTurd

McDonalds advert

Emotional blackmail with your sugar-flavoured gakburger, sir? Nah, you’re alright.

• Read the original McDonalds AdTurd

EDF advert

“I’m sorry to say the tests show you have a zingy, Mr Brown. You’ve got six months before your eyes fall out.”

• Read the original EDF AdTurd

Sky advert

Celebrity cunts tell lies for money.

• Read the original Sky AdTurd

Admiral advert

The ‘ordinary voice’ meme is, perhaps, 2013’s most aggravating. No doubt it’s relatable. It’s also horrible.

Vauxhall advert

A rap about a Vauxhall Corsa. KRS-ONE would turn in his grave, if he were dead.

• Read the original Vauxhall AdTurd

Lotto advert

2013’s most annoying noise – another appearance for the ‘ordinary voice’ meme – has returned for Christmas to mop up any viewers who may have luckily escaped thus far, like a battlefield executioner dispatching wounded soldiers with a bullet to the head. Oo-wack-a-doo-what-a-loada-crap.

CompareTheMarket advert

This carnivorous fish was vaulted a long time ago but watching these once-amusing adverts devolve into late-era Only-Fools-And-Horses drivel has been painful. The only sane response is to hope for a cobra attack on the whole troop followed by twitching deaths, like when Flower got offed in Meerkat Manor.

Wonga advert

Enough to make one pray for the second coming just so Christ can twat the money-lenders again. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Coke advert

You might not think there’s much that’s particularly hateful about this, apart from its syrupy, sickly chicken-soup-for-the-soul bullshit and that awful kids’ choir. But look closer – this is the Irish version of the advert and it’s more notable for what it doesn’t include than what it does. Compare it with the UK version below, which features a happy – and gay – couple. Seems Coke can conquer anything – apart from homophobia. And tooth decay, obviously.

• Want more? Read the lists from previous years…

Worst adverts of 2012

Worst adverts of 2011

Worst adverts of 2010

Worst adverts of 2009

Now vote for the worst of 2013

The Worst TV Adverts Ever

AdTurds was three recently, so I thought I’d better mark the occasion. I thought about mocking up an award of an actual turd – yer genuine Dirty Fido – and sticking it on a plinth, then going to the headquarters of not just the creative agencies, but the companies in question and presenting them there with a gong for making the worst TV adverts ever.

Then I realised I didn’t have the time, money, inclination or Channel 4 camera crew – to follow me around filming me failing to gain access to even the lift of those outfits before being ejected by security – to make such an endeavour worthwhile.

worst tv adverts ever

So I created an overview of the worst tv adverts that have been on the television since AdTurds hit the web. The ones that infuriate me; the ones I think are kinda despicable; the ones I simply think are total shit.

These are they. Feel free to add any you think I’ve missed. But they must be the absolute nadir. The ones that have you reaching for the remote, for ear plugs, for that loaded Smith and Wesson you just know is in your desk upstairs, next to the half-empty bottle of scotch…

The worst tv adverts ever

The motherload. A series of adverts pulling every trick out of the bag – including what appears to be sexual molestation in its most recent ad – to make you sad, angry or possibly even dead.

The CIA used to blast horrible noises – rabbits being tortured and the like – at South American socialists; understanding that hideous, repetitive noises can be useful in driving people legitimately out of their minds.

It revived that trick when torturing Guantanamo detainees, using a mindless nursery rhyme to send prisoners round the bend until they started babbling a load of made-up nonsense just to make it stop.

That’s what does with its adverts. Only there is no end to it. If you use their service the adverts do not stop. Imagine being tortured. Imagine that, in an effort to make the torture stop you complied with the wishes of those inflicting pain on you. And then imagine that they keep torturing you anyway.

That’s what does with its adverts. They may be non-lethal weapons. But have you ever taken a Taser hit? They’re non-lethal too.

Read the collected AdTurds

Worst TV adverts ever

Cillit Bang

The original in the mind-drilling adverts that have exploded over the last ten years. Barry Scott. What a cunt.

Read the original Cillit Bang AdTurds

We Buy Any Car

Needless to say, this is an advert on a parallel with a binbag full of festering food remains and cat litter tray content bursting all over your freshly hoovered and washed kitchen floor. Then you fall over in the shit, get some in your eyes and mouth; stand up; slip on it again; bash your head on the corner of a work surface and die.

It’s all of that. But I think it’s how awful WeBuyAnyCar is in other respects that elevates it so:

Knowledge is power.

Read the original WeBuyAnyCar AdTurd

Duffy Coke ad

An advert so ill-conceived, so smug, so meaningless and so utterly dire that it killed Duffy’s career stone dead.

In fact it was so bad that the fallout also killed Keith Duffy’s career stone dead – and he had nothing to do with it.

Read the original Duffy Coke AdTurd


Try-hard stupidity tooth-rot misadventure.

Read the original Haribo AdTurd and the post on Haribo winning the public vote to be crowned worst advert of 2011.


BMW has a little bit of a brand problem – the public think they’re cars bought by dicks. And while that may not be true it’s not something you want to court. Why, then, show off two people who seem photo-fit descriptions of the word ‘dick’, smugging on about their brilliant lives?

A quite astonishing brand misfire.

Read the original BMW Lunds AdTurd


Bad for a long, long time now – but who was your least favourite front person? Katona? Biggins? Donovan? Or Stacey Solomabs (as she’s know by several AdTurds readers)?

For me Donovan was the front-man for the most offensive of the lot – an insane trip-fuelled odyssey through a nightmarish Lynchian world that provided an insight into what it might be like to experience a particularly vicious acid-induced mania. Genuinely hellish.

Read the original Iceland / Donovan AdTurd


Kris Marshall never seemed a particularly charming feller to me – before the BT adverts he was chiefly known as a man who played an absolute bell-end in vile sitcom My Family. So, what better person to front your new, decades-long TV ad campaign?

Not only is the unlovely Marshall fronting these ads – he’s pitched into a baffling, awkward step-family situation that someone at an ad agency obviously thought would be a neat reaction to the decline of the nuclear family. The end result is an advert that even nuns despise.

Read the original BT AdTurd

This is another company that I have a beef with, for what it does as well as how awful its adverts are. Hyper superannuated LOL! puppets playing techno and saying stupid things go some way to highlighting Wonga’s target demographic.

Depressing all round.

Read the original AdTurd

British Airways

Fuck off you knob-ends.

Read the original British Airways AdTurds


Has anyone, anywhere ever welcomed someone noisily and aggressively interrupting a quiet moment that requires some level of concentration? The shock itself of a sudden loud noise, coupled with a group of people rushing towards you is enough to drive one to unthinking violence. But then it gets far worse – a little turd starts patronising you about your grooming rituals.

I’d like to see other private moments interrupted in this way in adverts. Perhaps someone on the bog, cracking one out in a shower – or balls deep in the missus perhaps?

“Woo! Hello buddy – how’s your sex? Have you heard of Yorkshire Tea?”

Read the original Gillette Proglide AdTurd


It might be because Barclays spends so much time on making its rich clients even richer by locating arcane and unlikely tax loopholes that mean these people – people who have so much cash they literally shit it – can avoid paying taxes. Taxes spent on things like, oh, the NHS, schools and Portcullis House fig trees.

But it could also be these adverts, voiced by Stephen Merchant, that have been making people groan with the sort of nausea one associates with a migraine. The unwelcome, undeserved smugness of someone who doesn’t know everyone hates them – precisely for being smug.

Read the original Barclays / Merchant AdTurd


The mullet, the shouting, the grin. Someone is going to Hell for this – with any luck the bloke in the adverts. Truly one of the worst tv adverts ever.

Read the original Safestyle AdTurd


Cut almost from the same cloth is VanCompare’s pitiful effort from a couple of years ago – the original write-up of which resulted in a torrent of hilarious abuse from idiot Sweet fans.

I made it up with VanCompare’s CEO in the end – but this effort featuring The Sweet’s Andy Scott remains possibly the most inept advert to grace TV screens for some decades.

Read the original VanCompare AdTurd


Halifax has been annoying you for at least ten years now, first with its idiotic staff karaoke, then with its quite hideous radio station series.

Halifax has dialled it back to a mere ten from that high point, but its choir adverts remain a thorn in the side of any sane TV viewers.

NB. This advert – of all the adverts on this site – is the one most frequently associated with the word ‘kill’ in comments and search queries.

Read the original Halifax Isa Isa Baby AdTurd


In the same way that air-raid sirens once signalled imminent disaster, the rat-a-tat-tat beat of Here Come The Girls now heralds one of the most debilitating series of adverts to ever grace television. Stick on a tin hat, head down to the Anderson shelter and await faceless death from above.

Watch the original Boots AdTurd


Killing Santa and replacing him with a credit card. Genuinely nasty.

Now give me your worst tv adverts ever

Vote below for your worst tv adverts ever below.