Posts Tagged ‘Supermarkets’

Just a Thought: Adverts Featuring the Public

October 20, 2008

…you know the ones, where some half-famous celebrity or friendly unfamilar goes hunting along the high streets and cobbled lanes of England, looking for authentic verification that their product is in some way better than another.

It was bad enough in the heyday of Julian Clary and the Daz Doorstep Challenge (that was back when a slightly effeminate man turning on at your house and offering to rub white powder into your pyjama wasn’t banned under the Prevention of Terrorism Act) but now you’re forced to dodge them on the highstreet as they try to show you how to make a chicken curry, or disuade Jamie Oliver from crashing your houseparty or avoid some fucker with a giant sofa trying to make you cry.

The worst one at the moment is Gary Rhodes and his cutesie VW camper with a giant crumpet on top, stopping off at the Crystal Peak shopping centres of the land trying to make you guess – like you care, at all – which margarine is spread on which crumpet.

There he goes, tootling through the countryside talking to builders and mums, trying to convince anyone who’ll listen to his hyper-patronising childspeak that it’s really important that 5% more of the country prefer Flora to Lurpack.

Equally irritating is another TV chef, Phil Vickers, and his ultra-realist forays into cooking food on the street with a wide array of cast members who are all supposedly real people and in no way actors playing real people.

Adopting a vocal tone similar to that of a teenage care worker talking to a half deaf five-year old, he sizzles up a stir fry and brings Aldi into their hearts, whilst developing their self esteem and a community spirit. He is hateful person.

It’s bad enough that men are portrayed as imbecilic morons in adverts, and women as imperfect housewives, but now we as a nation – and as a society  and as a people – are being offered up as bargain-hungry fame addicts who’ll happily gather around the next insignificant detail if it means a chance of free food, being on TV or meeting a famous chef.

Oh… hang on. That’s what we’re are, isn’t it?

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Tesco Direct

October 12, 2007

For an industry that is supposedly meant to be ahead of the zeitgeist, advertisers have a distinctly outdated viewpoint of human beings. Women are tawdry bags of imperfections that are in need of medical and cosmetic improvements, while men are serial sleazebags in search of the next commitment free lay. From the battling hoardes of early-morning shoppers who will willingly tear the jugular out of another female in order to get the new Chanel No.9, to the AIDS carrying ‘Mickey’ from the universally detested Head and Shoulders advert, they seem hell-bent on convincing us to be impressed by our most outdated stereotypes.

Take this latest advert from Tesco Direct. It’s clearly meant to be classy and sophisticated, but it comes across as a detestable 30 second remake of Alfie. A charmless date rapist, played by a man who is apparently a famous TV actor, tries to seduce an ex-Eastender by having his house fitted with budget furnishing… and she’s impressed by him.

Not only does it present men as egocentric wannabe lotharios, but it also offers up a viewpoint of women as obtainable when presented with the right combination of material possessions. Big fridge-freezer? Check. Nice new oven? Check. Remotely controlled faux-fireplace – surely the epitome of pseudo middle-class chintz? Check. The only thing they’re missing is the Tesco own brand Rohypnol he slips into her drink when his carefully balanced check list fails to get his dick sucked.

I’m confused as to what Tesco thought they were saying by commissioning this piece of instructional sleaze. Is our main character so desperate to nail this cock-tease of a cliche that he’s prepared to give it a shot while the delivery men are still in the house? “Don’t mind the workmen, love, now about getting your tits out…?” Is she so classy that she finds his ignoring of the proletariat boiler suits around them sexy? “Ooooh, I just love the way you pretend that those dirty little men don’t exist, now crank up the fake fireplace.”

Come to think of it, what woman in this world would be impressed by a guy who’s fitted his entire house with furnishings from Tesco? Ikea may have made mass-produced designer house furniture fashionable, but at least they suggest you mix and match to create your own style… Our deluded Don Juan character has simply let the biggest supermarket chain in the country decide what his furnishings should be. Character, style, a personal touch – all have been jetisoned in favour of an atypical image of middle-class success. They can worry about what looks good in his home while he gets on with the important business of getting his leg over with some dodgy, out-of-work, easily impressed skank.

While this advert is filled with horribly sex-pesty behaviour, my favourite moment is at 21 seconds in when our consumerismly impressed couple have to do a deliberate slow walk in order to let the Tesco men roll out the rug in time. It’s a moot point, for sure, but one that I find terribly funny…

ASDA adverts

September 27, 2007

Celebrities are amazing people. Truly, madly, deeply amazing people. They can brighten our day, make us feel special and turn even the most humdrum act into an exciting, liberating experience.

Take, for example, working for ASDA. To the vast majority of normal people it is a great example of a McJob – mentally and physically demanding, underpaid, patronising and exploitative – but in the hands of Ian Wright it is a joyous task filled with comedy banter, idle conversations and pleasure-bringing to the great unwashed. How wonderful! The job seems to be so much easier and improved with the inclusion of a celebrity fish-seller it makes you wonder why ASDA haven’t sacked their entire workforce and replaced them with washed up TV pundits. Think about it; one roaming camera crew to keep up the quality service and you’ll have thousands more customers flocking through the doors clammering to see Chantelle making pies and Nick Hancock offering wine-tasting.

What’s very interesting about Ian Wright’s behaviour in this advert is that almost everything he does would urge disiplinary action against normal employees. Were a 17 year old shelf-stacker to hustle or entertain customers in such a manner, they would find themselves hauled into the manager’s office and verbally beaten into submission. Were the 17 year old also to be overly familiar to customers, approach children offering them food and disply a lack of knowledge of their subject then you can guarantee that they’d be shown the door.

The advert tells us more about ASDA than they’d like us to know; primarily that they’re tight enough to rely on celebrity association rather than specialised branding. It’s far cheaper to throw a c-list celebrity into a store and let him interact with minimum wage employees (who will not have been paid extra for their involvement) than a considered and creative campaign from a large advertising company. Shoot it on handheld low-grade camera to keep costs down and you can afford to throw even more money at your designated ‘personality.’

At least Ian Wright is a better choice than their previous spokesperson, Sharon Osbourne. Her gurning, patronising spiel about bargains and parental responsibilities just made a nation stare aghast – amazed that anyone could think she was a thrifty shopper, let alone a good parent.

It’s an awful advertising campaign; misleading, simplistic and exploitative of their workforce. Much like the company itself.

“Asda has been criticised for misleading advertising, using suppliers who are known to have illegal employment practices, ignoring planning regulations and destroying greenbelt land, lack of serious environmental policy and blatant greenwash. With its ‘strategy of consolidation’, copied directly from Wal-Mart, Asda pursues an aggressive takeover policy of small towns, wiping out local competition and local jobs. False claims by the company about ‘value’ and ‘convenience’, have been challenged, along with the exploitation of every opportunity to push impulse buying”

Corporate Watch