Sorry about the lack of posts on this blog but you see the reason why I had all that pent up fury and anger was that advertising was ruining my life. I used to watch a lot of television so imagine fifteen minutes in the hour being exposed to the brainwashing of the advertising machine.
We are bombarded by intrusive messages subversively telling you your car is not good enough, your phone is out of date, if you don’t buy our stuff your a failure but buy product-x and it will be the solution to your life. If you don’t take any notice, it just becomes irrelevant. If you buy the products, the reality is that the advert was a lie. Either way there is no reason to watch adverts.
Well, I resolved to stop as much advertising in my life as possible. I got rid of my television and I haven’t looked back. I don’t even know what kind of moronic drivel is coming out of the box these days. I am as isolated from advertising memes as a judge is from hip-hop. I haven’t missed out on television either because everything that has been on television you can watch on the web somewhere. With YouTube, you can find programmes that aren’t available on television from people that just want to create their own programmes.
What is more, I have a young child and it is good to know that he isn’t being exposed to advertising. He is 18 months old and has seen zero advertising messages but he watches children’s programmes on the tablet with Adblock Plus.
I would still be interested in hearing what monstrosities are out there in the advertising world via the comments. I find it difficult to imagine, but advertising is probably even more annoying today than it was. Who knows, one day we might look fondly and nostalgically at the Halifax Bank ads or the Go Compare Ads and think, Ah. Those were far gentler days… Nah. Probably not.
Since I gave up watching the television many months ago, the Go Compare Ad is but an unshakable bad memory. However, if proof that it is universally disliked is required then surely this ought to be enough for Go Compare to withdraw it forever. As I was cycling to work, I noticed this and it brought a smile to my face.
Or maybe, this is a ploy by the advertising people and in fact this is a real advert that hasn’t been defaced?
It is my anniversary today and while passing the local cinema, my wife suggested that we see a film. I haven’t been to the cinema for a long time and despite my reservations I agreed. On entering the lobby, the smell of fresh pop-corn filled our noses and we tried to find out what to watch. The first thing is that you have to know what you want to see because although there is lots of information about what is going to be shown in the future, there is very little information about what is showing at the time other than the title of the film and when the next showing is due.
All the films come from America or are about American culture despite the thriving cinema industry in other countries. I would like to see more variety in the content. How about some World cinema instead of lowest common denominator, special effect laden Hollywood tripe. Then there is the ticket price, £9 per person is just a rip-off especially in the afternoon when there are least number of people. Snack prices are another rip off.
Perhaps one the most annoying things is the adverts and trailers. When you say the film is going to start, here’s a tip, start the bloody film. I don’t want to sit and be bombarded by adverts for 20 mins and then sit through trailers for films that I am never going to see. This wasting of time is just done to try and sell overpriced snacks because bored impatient people will do anything to try and fill the time. Then more adverts about turning your phone off.
The final insult was to be shown an advert against movie piracy before the main film began. Fuck you! I have paid money, and I am watching this film in the cinema and you are preaching to me to not pirate films! What a way to treat the audience.
The only good thing was the size of the screen which was impressive, unfortunately the film was terrible. For the record, it was ‘The Devil Inside’ which was described as a supernatural horror like the Exorcist. Unfortunately it was a documentary style film which was badly acted and with all the priests just reminded me of an episode of Father Ted without the jokes. It was just an awful film. Even the scriptwriters must have got bored halfway through because the film ends with the protagonists having a car crash and the credits roll. This is the equivalent of a bored child’s creative writing essay where they can’t be bothered to write any more and look to end the story by writing, “and then I woke up. It was all a dream.”
With a crap experience like that it is easy to understand why people would rather download a shakey, low quality pirate of the screen showing the back of someone’s head than being fleeced by going to the cinema.
Art can be a wonderful thing. It is genuinely one of the fast diminishing list of things that separate us from the animals. It can make you think or it can just be a joy. So when advertisers see something that was particularly clever or just plain cool what do they do? That’s right, they exploit the hell out of it and in doing so they ruin it forever, turning it into a big turd to hawk their wares. No longer can you just appreciate the original work on its own terms because it is tainted with the base cynicism of flogging some piece of old crap or shit service that you didn’t want to hear about in the first place.
The most common way of doing this is to take a song that you really love and associate it with a product. Almost every well known piece of classical music has its advert counterpart but it doesn’t stop there. Popular music is also fair game. Confused with their epic “Can any body help me?” advert with its increasingly annoying lot of cartoon figures. As an aside, notice how, the original confused character was really badly drawn, probably designed by child from nursery school and so it looks like someone having an epileptic fit. It now looks completely out of place with the more polished rendered cartoon figures in the crowd.
The art world is not safe either. There have been various Rube Goldburg Heath Robinson machines in which a simple task is eventually triggered by a chain of unfeasible mechanical, thermodynamic, kinetic and magnetic processes. I remember that Honda did this in an advert using parts of the car. To be fair, the advert was mesmeric and intriguing but such good adverts are few and far between. The Ford advert where an orchestra had instruments made from parts of the car is closer to the norm.
There is an art film, although I cannot remember who it is by, in which the action seemingly repeats and each time some new repeating event or action is added and it gradually builds up into a scene in which their is an impossible amount of stuff happening. That was cool. Matalan are using a similar sort of idea in their latest spinning panoramic adverts. One is set in a park. People are enjoying themselves in their spiffy Matalan clothes. The scene is turning around with people coming in and out of shot; having a picnic, throwing Frisbees, cycling near the camera, dogs walking, etc. If I was the cameraman, you would see a panoramic shot of my projectile vomit because all that spinning around just makes me feel dizzy when I watch it.
Some adverts try to make out that they are art. This is usually where advert isn’t connected with the product in any way that you would ever figure out unless you were a contestant on the never-popular game show 3,2,1. It is supposed to be a little island of pleasure in the sea of stress and torment, a break, something to watch with a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart but most likely it left you thinking WTF was that about? I am of course referring to the Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate adverts. So far we have had a Gorilla drumming to Phil Collins, children with body-popping eyebrows, airport trucks racing and now the dancing charity shop clothes. The ad department at Cadbury’s are obviously eating too much cheese before bedtime. I just hope they don’t start messing about with Oskar Fischinger’s work.
As child I was taught not to play with my food. Now, as an adult, I play with it all the time but the new Oreo Cookies advert takes it to an extreme. I much preferred, the previous one where the kid is cruelly teasing his dog by slowly eating his biscuit layer by layer right in the dog’s face.
Apparently, the name Oreo derives from the Greek for appetising but they should change the name to Nauseos because the new advert makes me feel sick. It shows a girl and her elderly grandmother with milk and Oreo biscuits. The idea of milk and biscuits is an unusual one which I presume comes from America as does the biscuit. Drinking milk on its own is off-putting enough. Partly because it brings back memories of milk at primary school. At break time we would get to drink a small, warm bottle of milk that had invariably been left out in the sun. For the rest of the morning everyone would have that horrible faint smell of milk on the turn on their breath, so for me kids and milk don’t mix.
Anyway, they are shown racing each other to scoff their biscuits layer by layer and we are treated to the site of these two licking their biscuits in graphic detail until the filling has disappeared then they start munching little pieces off the remaining biscuit layer as if it were a ceramic tile that needed to be fitted around an awkward corner. Finally, if that doesn’t have you vomiting your lunch, the advertisers are encouraging viewers to send in videos of their own sick-lick races. How very web 2.0. I just hope that these don’t appear in future adverts.
People love their pets, especially in the UK. We are a nation of animal lovers but this advert is just taking the piss. It shows an attractive, unexplainably single woman, that devotes what seems to be her entire waking life pandering to the perceived whims of a White West Highland Terrier, all with a loving smile on her face like the dog is her baby.
question one – why hasn’t this apparently successful woman got anything better to do with her life than spend all her time looking after a little white yappy dog?
question two – in what kind of psychiatric institution would you have to be in to serve your dog a plate of meat that wouldn’t even make it into hot-dog sausages in a style that would make the critics on MasterChef effervesce with adjectives on the presentation. It is not Novelle cuisine. It is dog food. Let us not forget, the consumer of this food is a dog. They lick their own arse and eat their own, and other dog’s, shit. The reality is that the dog doesn’t care what it is given as long as it is fed and this is the nub of what I find so annoying about the advert. The ad is not about the dog food it is marketing bullshit. It is a mirage of codswallop designed to make a mundane product seem more important than it actually is and therefore attract a premium price. You can feel superior to your neighbours that buy that crappy normal dog food. It means you love your dog more because you spend more money on it. Even the name gives it away. Cesar. Although the spelling is different, it makes you think of ancient Rome, of emperors, of excess.
In the past dogs were animals, not anthropomorphised members of the family and dog food was dog meat. Pedigree Chum, I seem to recall, had Barbara Woodhouse, the strict disciplinarian dog trainer, barking her copy in her headmistress like tones. There was always a shot of a big brown, wobbling tower of dog meat cut with a knife. Still disgusting, but at least it was more honest.
I haven’t written much recently, but there are a few adverts that are really pressing all the right buttons at the moment. Halifax is running its series of moronic radio station ads about ISAs again. Go Compare is still making me rush for the TV remote with their stupid advert concept of the wailing baritone opera singer in all its guises. Nat West too have really annoyed me by the their arrogant advert for more helpful banking which is trying to pull an impossible PR stunt of turning bankers into great, friendly, caring bunch of people. I especially hate the patronising way that they actually believe that by saying they are going to be more helpful that we will think they are great. Given that ordinary tax payers have had to spend so much money to sure up the banking system and the country as a whole will be suffering for the next ten years, I think we can do without helpful banking don’t you? Consider, what does ‘helpful banking’ that actually mean anyway? If bankers did their bloody job, instead of pissing everyone off by bringing the economy to its heels while at the same time paying themselves obscene amounts of money; if they paid their way by not avoiding corporation tax then that would be helpful but instead it is none of that. Helpful banking just seems to be pretending to be nice to their customers while still fucking them over at both ends of the saving-borrowing spectrum.
I admire Paul Whitehouse immensely as a comedian. He is great when working with Harry Enfield and a master of comedy characters. Even the previous Aviva adverts haven’t been the most annoying out there but there is something wrong with the new life assurance advert which I find depressing and mawkish every time I see it.
If you haven’t seen it, a typical advertising family are packing to go on holiday. There is the usual chaos as the family decide what to pack and make sure they have packed everything they will need. It could be a scene of normal domestic life and then the daughter says to her mother, “It won’t be the same without dad.” and then you realise that the father is there only in spirit.
Some of the commentators on YouTube say it made them cry but I just thought how it made me think about my own mortality and how transient is the strip of light between two infinite slabs of darkness is. But this just put a downer on my day. The other interpretation is of course: dad’s dead but at least we get a massive pay out so we can go on holiday.
I haven’t updated the blog in a while. Not because I am tired of writing but because I haven’t been watching terrestrial TV. We moved to a new house and the signal was too bad to pick up any picture so no telly for us. Most of the decent programmes are streamed on the internet and BBC iPlayer is very good.
However, adverts are becoming more pervasive within streamed video on the internet. YouTube adverts are fairly innocuous because, unless it is a really popular video, you can simply click it away. But a more forceful type of advertising, that is even more annoying, is on the increase. It is the 30 second advert that you cannot skip. It makes you sit and wait in order to see something that wasn’t worth watching in the first place. Because there are relatively few advertisers you tend to see the same adverts time and again. It doesn’t matter how good an advert is, by the third repartition you hate it. There are only so many times I can sit through a Jonah Hex trailer that I am never going to buy. Hell! I’m not even going to download it for free.
If I see one of these adverts now it makes me seriously reassess whether I want to see the following programme. I always turn the sound off and move to do something else in another tab. Advertising is probably responsible for most of humanities woes.
I reserve a special form of hatred for advertisers that try and get you involved in their products. Not content with replaying the same crappy adverts they ask us to do their job for them so that we, the audience, become involved in the product. In this case, making the mundane service of supplying a conduit for porn and torrents a Zen life-changing experience.
In the BT ads, we have this mini soap opera between Jane and Adam, which has been going on for far too long in my opinion. I would like to enlighten you and bring you up to date as to the story so far but I can scarcely give a damn about characters whose life problems can be solved by a wifi connection. Broadly speaking, I think they had a bit of a bust-up and now she is pregnant so he is going to be the first wireless father, whereby he visits his child entirely online saving money on their BT Home Hub and saving money on child maintenance.
Anyway, I digress. In the last completely forgettable ad, we were invited to vote on what should happen in the story. Viewers with less restraint obviously opted for them to get back together again. Unfortunately they didn’t include in the voting options my suggestion that the entire cast be incinerated by a MOAB that accidently fell out of a passing C-130 aircraft because their router was working on the same frequency. Oh and stop charging line-rental for a copper wire that was installed years ago.