Posts Tagged ‘Advertising’

Just A Thought: The Colour Of Money

March 25, 2009

I’ve found it’s only possible to watch ITV’s The Colour Of Money if I’ve recorded it. The reason for this is quite a lot of its one-hour run time is taken up with recaps of stuff you’ve only just watched, plus the usual advertisements you never wanted to watch in the first place. It’s probably the most fast-forwardable show on British TV.

To give you an example: say Andrea from Wigan has managed to get £8,000 from the Emerald cash machine, £11,000 from the Charcoal cash machine and £6,000 from the Cream cash machine and you’ve just watched this happen, ITV cares not a jot. Despite some of the action having taken place mere seconds before, it’ll still show you a highlights package before going into the break.

And then, after you’ve sat through drivel inviting you to buy stuff you don’t want, ITV does it again by showing you another highlights package when the show returns! So, in the space of fifteen minutes, you’ve watched nine minutes of someone trying to nervously guess when one of the show’s machines is about to run out of money, three minutes of adverts and three minutes of repeats.

This happens every time the show goes into and comes out of a commericial break. By my reckoning, and considering you also have a five minute ad break at the end, that means you get twelve minutes of in-show ads, twelve minutes of repeats and only thirty one minutes of new programme. Thirty one fucking minutes of actual original content!

So, the next time you see Chris Tarrant and he tells you he works hard for his money, can you tell him he’s a fucking liar, please?

Oh, and can you tell him his new show’s shit too? Thanks.

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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.

One Minute Review: Great Ormond Street

February 25, 2009

It’s a good cause, it uses fitting imagery and the theme is well executed. Just please, please, PLEASE take the song away from the mix because it’s driving me insane.

I watch The Wright Stuff every morning, for my sins, and the Great Ormond Street advert always manages to catch me off guard, despite the fact it’s on during every ad break, twice. And, for reasons only they could explain, the tune they employ is Athlete’s ‘Wires’ – which is one of those songs with one of those melodies that sounds pleasant enough the first time, but then, like any similar slice of poison by Coldplay or Snow Patrol, it burrows its way into your consciousness and installs itself, virus-like within your lobes and before you know it, it’s playing in your mind as you wash the dishes. It’s blaring behind your eyes as you try to take a dump. It’s following you to the chip shop. It’s round your Nan’s house. It’s IN YOUR BED.

And the worst of it is, it’s there for life. Even if you only hear that first minor chord bashed accidentally on a detuned piano, your memory crank will turn and fire a synapse playing the whole, turgid symphony back, strings and all in the back of your brain as you claw at your own face, bleeding from nostrils and tear ducts as you whimper along to the tune, helpless and dribbling.

The last thing I need is a respectable charity triggering this kind of psychological damage, so please, Great Ormond Street, for the love of God, STOP!

One Minute Review: Duffy’s Coke Ad

February 24, 2009

Forgive my ignorance, but apart from the opening bars of Rockferry (or whatever it’s called) I hadn’t really heard Duffy’s singing voice. I ran for cover whenever her stuff came on the radio or TV fearing MOR, cod-Motown miserablism.

Last night, the above came on television and I thought I was being hoaxed. Is that genuinely her voice? Is that the caterwaul that garnered three Brit awards?

It sounds like someone’s pulling on her piles! It sounds like someone’s kicking a kitten and farting in a foghorn! It’s the most disturbing cola advert I’ve ever seen! Apart from the New Generation one.

It’s horrific.

Jamster

January 19, 2009

partner tracker

If you ever brave the murky depths of cable channels, you’ll find yourself swamped with hundreds of tiny advertising nuggets. These aren’t proper ads. They’re visual and sonic assaults on the mind designed to tattoo a brand on your brain with deft swiftness. You fnd yourself remembering the product and the company name completely involuntarily – usually items which are of no use to you whatsoever, taking up valuable brain space you’d alloted to be filled later on in life with the works of Heidegger, Kant or Linsey Dawn McKenzie.

Jamster, the mobile ringtone, wallpaper, gimmick and pornography augmentation service, indulge in such examples of advertising. Their marketing output is the equivalent of an infectious sales-rottweiler, dribbling on the sidelines of MTV2, ready to pounce when the ads come on and happy to sink teeth into your temples when you’re buried to the hilt in the middle of their ten minute ad breaks.

The ad that got me scratching my head and shouting at the television set (again – I must curb this habit) came on this morning without warning, and was attempting to sell an X Ray mechanism that you can apparently download onto your mobile and, as a result, see through your hand and, at a push, LADIES’ PANTS using its incredible machinations.

I am an adult and am aware that this is guff. Though if I were a child, I might not. I invested in some X Ray Specs from a ‘Smiffy’s Joke Shop’ catalogue (anyone remember them?) when I was pre-10, so if I were a nipper now and blessed with a cell phone – they seem to dish them out at birth these days – I’d probably waste a fiver or however much they sell this shit for on this useless, unamusing and rip-off rubbish.

Even more disturbing is the advert for a mobile phone ‘Partner Tracker’.

Apparently this enables the user to find out where their other half is using mobile technology. So if you’ve jumped to the conclusion that your beloved is up to no good, you can find out if they’ve gone where they’ve said they’ve gone as you sit alone, drinking own-brand gin in your bedsit. Healthy!

So, jealous lovers, if you’re an untrusting brute or you feel you’ve been saddled with a two-bit, cheating swine who may be making a cuckold of you, for three or four quid you can use this application to ruin your life whether your suspicions are confirmed or not.

Brilliant!

Except it’s not brilliant. The small print sadly gives away the cold hard facts… and they make for saddening reading. I’ve been duped.

This software is for entertainment purposes only and does not require GPS or a network connection. It doesn’t locate your real whereabouts but nevertheless it is a fun application

I’m sure it is, Jamster. I’m sure it’s a lorry load of neverending fun, you shameless, no-good shysters.

Slumdog Millionaire

January 15, 2009

Hype, hype, bastard HYPE.

It’s not the fault of Danny Boyle or his talented young cast that Slumdog Millionaire has been so ridiculously overhyped this past couple of weeks. It’s the fault of journalists and TV magazine shows, all champing at the bit to speak with supposed expertise about a film they consider to be not only beautifully shot and acted (which it is), but also worthy. They think that by singing the praises of the film without questioning any aspect of it, they earn themselves kudos rather than cynicism from those of us who, having watched it and made our own minds up, have realised the film’s got a few problems in the process.

It doesn’t help, when wishing to watch with fresh eyes, that the movie has been endlessly trailed. You’ll have seen about three quarters of it, including pivotal moments, before you even enter the bloody picture house. You’ll know exactly what the first half’s about and you’ll have guessed the outcome of the second half if you’ve got even one lobe left in your grey matter after the endless barrage of praise that accompanies each plot-ruining clip featured on every current affairs or entertainment show going.

So I don’t need to run through the plot. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know it. If you haven’t, you’ll have been told. What I can tell you is that, in my humble opinion, the first half is visually brilliant and depicts the life of the Mumbai slum-children sympathetically, if simplistically. The flashback scenes using children under the age of sixteen, speaking in their Hindi mother-tongue, are the best aspect to the movie. I wished it had stuck to format the moment the two male leads grew older and the dialogue snapped to English. As it did, the believability of the first half was binned in favour of an ill-advised take on magic realism that didn’t satisfy this here curmudgeon.

Reducing the sufffering of the characters to a fabricated Millionaire wish fulfilment conclusion just felt half-arsed. This was compounded by the fact that the love interest had barely a line in the whole film and we had no sense of who she was and how they had fallen for one another. All we’d seen them do was share a mattress, aged seven or eight.

Despite all that, the film’s worth a look for the visual aspect alone. The amazing opening half’s a seductive vision of a nightmare, paradoxically enough. Just don’t believe that it’s profound, feelgood, or deals sensitively with major issues. Because it doesn’t really do any of those things.

Fire Kills – Pull Your Finger Out

January 12, 2009

It’s incredible that a thirty-second public information film can cause such intense irritation. It’s like stinging-nettle whiplash, the Julie Walters smoke-alarm campaign. And the worst thing about it is they double them up. Firstly, at the top of an ad break, you’ll have Walters asking if you fancy saving your family from dying, then telling you to ‘pull your finger out’ (presumably of your arsehole, as the proverb dictates) and test your smoke-alarm. Then, after you’ve sat through the malevolent maelstrom of all the other ads, she reappears to reiterate her message.

Perhaps it wouldn’t be so annoying if I didn’t already know full well that my smoke alarm works just fine. Maybe I wouldn’t get so wound up if it didn’t bleep at an ear-splitting volume every time I tried to lightly fry bacon. It might be that this campaign wouldn’t nestle on my tits and wrap itself around my wick if my smoke-alarm didn’t wail like a deafening banshee every time I put some cheese on toast under the grill.

Or maybe, if it wasn’t Julie Walters trying to tell me what to do like a stern, friendly teacher, I wouln’t want to kick the screen to smithereens. There’s something about Jules that sends me into a blind rage. The vastly overrated association with Acorn Antiques and Victoria Wood, the appointment to national treasure status that occurred off my watch and the chuckling mum persona she conveys on the TV, despite the fact she’s NOT MY MUM.

I fully realise that this is a twisted, personal pet-hate and most people will wonder what the hell I’ve got against Walters. It’s irrational, perhaps.

I admit it. It’s not you, Walters. It’s me.

Paul McKenna – I Can Make You Thin

January 8, 2009

I was always pretty much indifferent when it came to hypnosis, until a friend started training to become a clinical hypnotherapist. When he told me about the training he was undergoing I enjoyed using words like ‘piffle’ and ‘mumbo jumbo’ as he recounted the details. He took it with good grace, and we agreed to disagree.

Then recently, I read Derren Brown’s Tricks of the Mind in which, in his signature style, he discusses the subject very frankly and gives an insight into the techniques involved. I tried a couple of the rudimentary examples he gives and found that, on a basic level, they work. As he recommended, I continued – purely out of curiosity – to read up on the subject, trying at all costs to avoid the more commercial end of the market. There are, after all, clearly hypnotists out there who are as interested in lining their pockets as they are concerned for helping people out.

Then I decided to give up smoking and got my hands on an eight minute mp3 of Paul McKenna which guaranteed it could help to cancel cravings. Essentially, in this little transmission, it simply forced you to create an association between the craving and something you personally find horrendous. I chose turds with all hairs sticking out. Seriously.

It worked, for a week. I’d never given up for more than 24 hours before this little revelation – and the only reason I got back on the smokes again was because a life-changing event happened the following week, making me lose focus. Impressed, I got hold of more of McKenna’s stuff (hiding it from everyone, as it’s all got a self-help stigma following it about like a nasty smell), but with all of his other programmes, possibly because I don’t need them, I found them overlong and cheese-ridden.

McKenna’s main problem is that his techniques are all grounded in proven clinical methodology, but these alone aren’t commercially viable. To get around that, he dresses one or two simple directives in so much marketing blabber (an easy bedfellow of the suggestive language of hypnosis), that it begins to feel like he’s not only trying to change a habit – he’s also trying to make you sign up to McKenna LTD.

I was surprised that Living TV wasn’t showing his ‘I Can Make You Thin’ on a subscription basis. Again, tuning in out of  curiosity,  you find more of the same.  If you want to lose weight (I don’t, particularly), this programme will probably help and save you the expense and hassle of Atkins style crash diets.

That said, it’ll cost you in other departments. In the one episode I’ve seen, one technique – the negative association craving-buster I mentioned before – was demonstrated over the course of an hour. This took around 10 minutes. The rest of the hour was concerned with testimonials, case studies and non-stop, advertising blather.

McKenna sells techniques that work very well, but his real strength is in selling himself. The show is like some weird, apolitical rally. It’s like you’ve walked into a bizarre, born again Christian sermon, in which only 5% of the content is actually discernible – the rest being a confusing spectrum of superficially pleasing waffle-bollocks.

I preferred it when he was making people cluck like chickens on ITV.