Monday, December 19, 2005

ADWATCH - No 137

BT (British Telecom) recently used Jeremy Clarkson to front one of their commercials. An odd choice because surveys have shown that at least 50% of the British public detest Jeremy Clarkson.
Actually, I made that up. The real figure might well be higher. The only person that is definitely known to adore Clarkson (apart, presumably, from his wife) is his best buddy, the pretentiously initialled journalist A.A. Gill. The two hang out together which at least has the advantage that if you poured a bucket of cold sick over Clarkson, some of it would also fall on Gill.
This might not matter if you had a niche product that was designed to appeal to car-worshipping, racist, homophobic males of limited intelligence. But BT has a universal product that it wishes to sell to every householder in Britain.

That particular commercial was promoting 'BT Privacy', a service that would stop you receiving sales calls. The cheek of this was breathtaking. For there has long been a free, independent service that does precisely that. It's called the Telephone Preference Service and you can quickly register with it online. For me at least, it has stopped 99% of unsolicited sales calls. Plus you have the satisfaction of not just telling the remaining 1% "Fuck off, I'm watching Coronation Street" but that they are breaking the law. Admittedly, this doesn't cut much ice with Sanjeev in Delhi but it makes you feel better.

Now BT has launched a new series of commercials that go back to the commercial origins of the term 'soap opera' and are a contemporary version of the Oxo Family or those interminable instant coffee commercials.
They feature the gormless youth from the shitcom 'My Family', who has the physique of a thin streak of piss and about as much charm. Some myopic or demented older woman has chosen him as her toyboy and moved herself and her two children in with him. He helps the children with their homework (thanks to BT Broadband) and helps the young boy to pretend that he has a girlfriend (thanks to BT's new texting service).

It says: we at BT are in tune with modern life and know that families today come in many different varieties.
Of course, if they wanted to universalise their sales pitch they'd take account of the fact that more people than at any time in history don't live in families at all.
The commercials also have that nauseating knowingness about family behaviour and relationships. Except, of course, that it's all presented within a cosy middle class scenario of awkwardness and repressed feelings. So when the young boy shakes toyboy's hand, he looks away and does it grudgingly whereas, in many such family situations he would say 'Fuck off, loser" and knee him in the testicles.

These are the most vomit-inducing commercials to have appeared this year. Probably.
I won't say any more about them because that means thinking about them and I'd almost prefer to think about John Major in his blue underpants engaging in foreplay with Edwina Currie.
One of the commercials ends with the question 'What would you text?'
Well, since you ask, it would be: 'Ditch this emetic cocktail of crap and bring back Maureen Lipman's Beatty'.


At 12:08 PM, Blogger Vicus Scurra said...

Thank you for saving me the need to vent my ire, although being a worshipper at the shrine of Murdoch, I record most things on my sky box wotsit, and skip the commercials.
But please save me the trouble of getting cross and write something about Joan Collins on Have I Got News For You, please.

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Or Buzby, the bird on the wire voiced by Bernard Cribbins. Although thinking back, there might have been a campaign to gag him, so perhaps he wasn't so popular.

At 1:45 PM, Blogger Merkin said...

AND it's all a con trick. I signed up the supposedly "new" BT Privacy (I've been a member of the Telephone Preference Service for a few years but a few calls still slip through the net) and as a result I received a letter from the TPS saying that they had received my request to be registered with the TPS, as passed on by "their friends" at BT Privacy.

So.... BT are painting themselves as being the new friend of consumers and all they're doing is passing on details to a private organisation that was only set up independently because BT refused to do so in house about 8 years ago. Grrrrrr

At 2:08 PM, Blogger JonnyB said...

I too am a TPS registree. But every time I visit their site I want to physically punch the screen. Or, more constructively, get the people in charge of it and push their head through it.

From the site:

"Before you register however...

You should reflect on the fact that registering may well prevent you from receiving information which you would really like to have - thereby cutting you off from relevant and worthwhile opportunities. For charities, telemarketing is an economical way to raise awareness and much needed support.

If you are happy to receive telemarketing calls from some companies but not others, contact the companies who you do not wish to hear from and ask them to remove your details from their call lists. Registering your telephone number on TPS will stop telemarketing calls from all companies, charities and voluntary organisations not just some!"

So here's a service to stop you receiving sales calls. But we really really would like you not to use it, cos we're funded by sales call people. So let's make you feel bad about not answering the phone to the poor ickle orphans.


At 9:01 PM, Blogger zaphod said...

Edwina Currie....Oh Yes please.

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

I too was struck by the novelty of an organisation urging you not to use the service they provide.
I wonder if the Samaritans' website says that, all things considered, suicide might be the best solution to your problems?

At 8:10 PM, Blogger Urban Chick said...

mr lupin, this is horribly off-topic, i'm afraid, but i've been meaning to tell you for an age that your link to quinquireme doesn't work

god, i'm a dullard

p.s. i LOATHE mr clarkson and i LOATHE that stoopid ad

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Tony said...

Won't be surfin' much in the next few days, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to wish you and yours a merry Christmas and a fruitful new year.

I also need to get something off my chest. In fact, I really need to run down the street screaming. I work for a local authority in a town in the South West. You can imagine the type of free-thinking, madcap, hellraising sort of people who work with me. Today (23rd) has seen the seasonal outbreak of THE COMEDY TIE!!! Homer Simpson, Bugs Bunny, a reindeer that plays a farking tune!

Beam me up Scotty.

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Tony, thank you. Best wishes to you too.
Oh dear, the comedy ties brought back less than pleasant workplace memories. You have my sympathy.

At 11:38 AM, Blogger patroclus said...

Gosh, thanks UC. Willie, should you ever feel compelled to edit your links, these days I can be found at

However, let it be known that I did not come in here to pimp my blog. What I came to say was "emetic cocktail of crap" is the best phrase I have read all week. That's what I like about this blog (well, one of the things, anyway) - the glorious turn of phrase. Always fills me with professional envy. Marvellous.

At 2:00 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Patroclus: I really need an assistant to deal with these changes to links, to leave me free to concentrate on the writing. But I'll probably get round to it by August.

Didn't think that phrase was one of my best but I was very pleased with the headline 'Copse and Doggers', one of my best this year, IMHO.

At 8:29 AM, Blogger Spinsterella said...

I hate Clarkson more than anyone else in the entire world. I amuse myself in quiet moments thinking up new and grotesque ways to kill the smug-tight-trousered twat. Usually they involve driving over him repeatedly in a big fucking SUV.

Then, when I'd finished with him, I'd move on to that sycophantic short-arsed sidekick.

No jury'd convict me...

At 11:00 PM, Blogger SwissToni said...


I don't actually mind Clarkson. I mean obviously he's a terrible bigot and all that, but I find him an entertaining TV personality.

That said, I don't understand how a service from BT that tells you the number of the person calling will sopare you having to get out of the bath to answer the phone only to find it's a call centre. Surely you will still have to get out of the bath?



Post a Comment

<< Home