Archive for March 3rd, 2009

Cadbury’s Eyebrow Ad

March 3, 2009

With the public going batty for healthy comestibles, now is a bad time to work in the snack food industry. Vilified on television, snack foods are shown as the reason for poor, twenty-four-stone Janine from Slough being barely able to lift her bottom off the sofa, and also why the nation’s children are wobbling balls of fat in Jamie Oliver’s School Dinners. Give it ten weeks and your humble packet of salt and vinegar crisps will be held responsible for the recession, knife crime and the breakdown in relations between the UK and Russia.

So, you’d imagine it would be quite hard working in the marketing department at Cadbury’s. I remember chocolate adverts from my youth, usually featuring a cartoon frog in a baseball cap screaming its lungs off, designed to get us kids worked up into a pestering frenzy. The money-shot would always feature an enlarged shot of the chocolate bar, with all the different layers of chocolate, sugar and marshmallow labelled. Like porn for chocaholics.

To do that now would not only be impractical with all the anti junk-food advertising laws around, it would also make your ad’s guilty claims of being ‘more chocolatey then ever’ seem unappealing, almost perverse when displayed next to promotions for organic celery sticks and drum-wheat cracker bars.

So, the new trick is to resort to novelty promotions that do everything to distract the public from what they’re promoting. Poor old Walkers had to drum up some novelty flavours, from Chilli & Chocolate to Menstruating Goat ‘n’ Cress.

Cadburys have taken a different route, and the result is 30 seconds of very surreal television that makes about as much sense to me as the time I hit my head and tried to listen to BBC Cymru.

The advert stars two kids, both abducted from a special needs school in the 80s, who wiggle their eyebrows in time to some funky electro pop. The boy on the left is common or garden funny-looking, but the girl on the right is something else; a cross between those spooky little girls you get in Japanese horror films and the child of Frau Farbissina from Austin Powers.

By the time she starts to squeak a balloon in time to the music, you’re not only left confused as to what’s been advertised, you’ve also forgotten who you are. Your jaw hangs open as you stare agog at this new watershed in pointless advertising. It might work to the extent that it has distracted you from the unhealthy nature of the food whilst subtly reminding you that chocolate is fun, but it’s messed me up so much that I can’t decide if I hate it in all it’s fake internet meme glory or not.

I spent half an hour last night watching it on Youtube, oscillating between abject hatred and childlike affection, while jamming milk chocolate bars into my face at a rate of six a minute. At least it’s temporarily stopped me from thinking about eating healthily.

That might have been the point in the first place, come to think of it.

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Grow Your Own Drugs

March 3, 2009

Do you like cooking?

Are you a keen gardener?

Oh – one other thing… do you like homeopathic remedies?

If you ticked all of the above, you’ll love BBC2’s new cooking, gardening and homeopathic remedy show: Grow Your Own Drugs.

It’s a strange mixture of all of these elements squeezed into a format similar to Nigella Express or Chinese Food Made Easy. The only problem is, where those are both straightforward cookery shows, Grow Your Own Drugs’ presenter, James Wong sets out to squeeze in a factual basis for what he’s doing, growing the plant, cooking or preparing it and then, with the clock ticking away, providing a little bit of testimonial as to whether or not it worked. It’s a lot to slot in. Where Ching-He Huang migh collar a builder, cook for him, then eat with him, Wong has to jump through several hoops before he’s even at the hob.

Not only that, he’s also legally bound to provide disclaimers throughout. He starts the series off saying he’s ‘not some weird hippy’, slightly defensively, and proceeds throughout the show to warn us that he’s ‘not a doctor’, explaining that the tests aren’t ‘clinical trials’ and telling viewers not to smear pulverised fruit on their face if they’re worried that they might have allergies.

It comes across as incredibly restricting, as though Wong can’t get into his stride because he’s fenced in by indie-intros, justifying his own existence and explaining that he’s not a dispenser of pharmaceuticals. With half an hour to try and cure insomnia, constipation and dry skin using just a fruit bowl, the poor sod was always going to be up against it. The Naked Chef first appeared over a decade ago, but still the BBC are using this tired and stilted format for a large percentage of its factual TV, even when the content isn’t suited to it at all.

However, you don’t have to take my opinion as fact as I’m not a qualified writer. Always see a certified critic before watching gardening, cookery and homeopathy based television shows.