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'.