Current Essays

Ad Diction On:2008-10-23 15:08:48

I don't know if I'm becoming more jaded, or if things really are getting more stupid in the Ad world. I mean, I know that Ads have always been stupid---from cigarette packets with sexy dancing legs to gord knows what back in the backward and abysm, but now-a-days Ads, especially Television ads, seem to have gone from stupidity to raving, bloody knee-biting gaa-brrp-gaa-ity.

I try not to watch them, but sometimes my eyes happen to be pointing in the wrong direction at just the wrong time and I see one and then... and then... well; they tend to leave me lying there on my back, legs in air and twitching slightly, like a roach that's gone off half cocked; in other words they are so synapse-slappingly dumb that just seeing one of the buggers reduces your IQ by a couple of points, so you can imagine what watching a lot of them, not to even mention (though it might explain a lot) making the damn things does to the intelligence.
So for the last few days, I have been forcing myself to watch the telly1, to look out for, and warn you about, the stupidest of the stupid things.

A word of caution, I would not suggest that you do this at home--I mean I am a hardened professional broadcaster and this was (as the little disclaimers always say in car ads when they demonstrate how their car can really do things it shouldn't, that this was a 'closed course, professional driver') and not only that but, as an added precaution, I inoculated myself by continually shouting rude and philosophically improbable things at the screen, things that doubted the parentage of the participants and expressed an ernest desire that all concerned die as soon as was practicable, of horrible and preferably non-sexually transmitted diseases (nor indeed of diseases associated with any other form of pleasure).
In spite of all these precautions and my training, I still suffered greatly on your behalf, and so I can't absolutely swear to the definitive accuracy of my reportage.


Are we in Russia?By far the stupidest ad in the known universe is claimed by Burger King (though for all the good it does them, there is little reason to suppose it wasn't put out by one of their rivals). In it two young men (what we in Britain would call 'Youff') who are wearing large burger costumes---or perhaps that's just what you look like after you eat too much of their product---but either way they have arms and legs and heads ungainly sticking out from their burglery spheroids, as they play a prank on, I think (I was getting rather woozy by this point), a Wendy's drive-through by asking for Burgler King products, and when (after explaining that this isn't a Burgler King) the drive-through voice suggests something based on a baked potato (something that sounded rather appealing to me) one of the Fat Burgler Boys, who seems to be really out of it, asks if they're in Russia! I was comatose and in anaphylactic shock by this stage, so I probably got that wrong2, but I see nothing in this infantile sub-human sub-humour to encourage one to ingest BK's one hundred percent USA prime byproducts.

BabyWagenThe runner up is an ad for a certain type of Volkswagen featuring that eyebrow woman, ...Thingie Shields, and suggesting that people are going to inordinate lengths to have babies, just so they can be allowed to buy this certain type of Volkswagen. Now far be it from me to criticize the vending practices of that noble scion of the Großdeutsches Reich3 , but limiting sales to those with new-born babes seems unduly restrictive and, in this economic environment, one would think they would have the sense to sell to anyone with the money who is willing to take one of the damn things off their hands---but they don't.

The rest ---the ads for feel-good movies, that are only feel-good movies if you happen to be the sort of person who likes to feel nauseous; or the ads for the (presumably vile) lawyer called Sokolove, which name brings up unwelcome, and I hope unfounded, images of his private life--Ahh! Sock o’ Love, think of what that implies for the state of his sex life not to mention the state of his socks---all these tie for some place or other in the middle, as do ads that claim something to be 'All Natural' that don't have (for example) some nudist walking into that clearing in the forest where no man has gone before, reaching up to pluck the newly ripened brightly coloured plastic container of yogurt right off the yogurt tree...

Cheerio for now
Richard Howland-Bolton


The picture of the BK ad is not very good. I suspect they got wind of this essay, because as soon as I started writing it, they vanished from my TV screen and scampered, whimpering to hide behind the skirts of their whopping Dad. I was forced to capture a still from a rather low quality vid snatched by someone on YouTube.
The Germans and the eyebrow were made of sterner stuff, so I got a better image.

1 I Really did it as a penance for the guilty pleasure of having just re-read all of Thomas Love Peacock's delightfully intellectual novels, to adjust the balance of my intellect back to neutral.
2 BK text from the web

Whopper Jr.: "Let's go take 'em out, yeah?"
Chicken Crisp: "Yeah."
Whopper Jr.: "We've got business to handle!"
Whopper Jr.: "Hey, can I - can I get a Whopper Jr., please?"
Wendy's Speaker: "This is - this is not Burger King. That's at Burger King. Sorry."
Whopper Jr.: "Can I get some flame-broiled beef, please? Got any of that?"
Wendy's Speaker: "Uh, we don't do that here."
Wendy's Speaker: "Do you want a sour cream and chive potato?"
Whopper Jr.: "A baked potat- a baked pota- are we in Russia?

3  I know the Reich didn't officially become Großdeutsches until ten years after VW started, but it was all the same guys, so cut me some slack here---I mean I've just been watching ads for you.

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