Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Hormonal-Based Advertising

Hello, I'm an advertising executive, and not only do I want you to buy my client's product - I want you to weep over it. I want you to look deeply into your tellyscreen and blub, gulping sharp breaths of longing and confusion, as you battle with the unmistakable feeling of your common sense being capsised by a tsunami of hormones and artfully tugged heartstrings.

You'll cry - oh how you'll cry! - as swooping music scoops up your attention span and spits shards of wistful whimsy into it's soft gooey bits, like a weakness-seeking missile, until the 30 seconds are over, and your housemates/family/cat wonder who stole your personality and replaced it with a soggy flannel.

It's a clever trick they're playing, those marketing bods, sat in their boardroom, contemplating what the lickle people-weeple might want to absorb next. "They love those fucking meercats" one says, pacing the room and gnashing their teeth. "but nobody really knows what they sell." Another leaps up and slams a clammy fist on the laminated table. "What about regurgitating some shit old advert and pushing for the retro factor?" Hmm. They aren't sure. It worked for Aquafresh, sure, but for fibre-optic broadband? No, there has to be something else. Something that'll trick those slumping bastards into shoving grabfuls of cash into their company. "A quirky, oddball approach?" the intern pipes up from behind the coffee maid. "NO!" They all scream. "NO! That's's mistake! We'll have nothing to do with it!" There's an uncomfortable silence; one man bites his nails, another coughs and looks out of the office's downgraded window (once a panoramic view of the canal, since the cuts and the move down to the fourth floor, there was now an uninterrupted view of the multi storey car park next door). A hand slams down hard onto the table, rattling the coffee cups. "Emotions!" she shouts. "Idiots! They don't understand their emotions! Make them blub like big stupid babies and they'll think it's a good thing!" A murmur of appreciation. She's cracked it.

About a decade ago, Whiskas made an advert full of stimulating imagery and sounds especially for cats. It was meant to hold your cat's attention, and encourage them to move towards the TV, hypnotised, presumably so that as the guardian of your animal you'd feel like a total bastard if you didn't buy it the special food.

Here it is:

This is the basis on which all adverts work now, but for humans. Since John Lewis did their cradle to the grave ad (not the real name for it, unfortunately) people have realised "Hey! That advert made me cry! I like being emotionally stimulated, because usually my life consists of a monotony that could only be replicated by being trapped in an art exhibit made entirely out of corrugated iron and asbestos."

I think what really angers me about these adverts is that I'm not sure why they're doing it, or what they might achieve from filling their shops and holiday resorts with people teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Take Butlins for example. Why? Why is having a huge green crocodile (?) consistently getting his heart broken by friends who leave him repeatedly a good thing to share with the world? And Virgin Media - using music and poetry over the top of "real life" imagery seems like a cheap shot. Look at how happy and honest they all are. Look at how together everyone is. Look at their lives. Look at them. Listen to the words, read calmly by a man with an unobtrusive but brusque voice. He's like that man that exists in all novels; he has feelings, but he's never cried. Look, a pan-out shot of an everyday city. It's us, it's all of us, we're on telly, and that's how I feel right now OH GOOOOODDDDD WAAAAAAA virgin media WAAAAA.

Get a grip, advertising. Get a grip.



The new Daily Mail advert can fuck off too. You know what it says to me? "Okay, have your little opinions now, but when you're ready to grow up, you know where we are."

And do you know what? That's the most irritating and vile statement I have ever had forced into my eyes. Next time it's on, have a look, and see for yourself. It makes me want to BURN THINGS.

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