TV adverts – the good, the bad and the even worse…

by Lynn Connolly

Singalong now... "You dozy ladies make me want to spew... I hope Sheila's Wheels run over you!"

I’ve been wondering lately what it is that makes some adverts so irritating that we want to hurt our TV for showing them to us while some others are just so great that, far from hating them, we’ll actively enjoy them and not flick over while they’re on!

What is the ‘X’ factor that makes this televisual selling alchemy a battle of good over evil?

For example, I absolutely love the advert for Compare the Market at the moment. In it, Alexander, the talking Meerkat bemoans the fact that his site, is overridden with people looking for cheaper car insurance. It’s awesome and not only do I love the advert, I actually looked at and it rocks!

In case you live on Mars and haven’t seen it, here’s the ad…

Then we have the extreme opposite end of the scale… when I see the ads for Take A Break, I could happily kick my telly’s face in. It drives me up the wall and I have to mute it when that dozy woman starts – in a hideously off tune singing voice – to beseech likeminded cretins to take a break… oh dear lord I hate it. Here it is…

It makes me actually physically angry to see it!

Another ad that is just really stupid is the one for Tetley Green Tea. There’s this woman getting all ready to go out for a jog; she’s put the clobber on, stretched, warmed up etc., but neglected to notice – out of her gargantuan picture window – that it’s raining. She only discovers it when she opens the door and it’s like monsoon season so she has a cup of tea instead.

OH it's raining... did not notice through my wall to wall window

Is she mental or what?

Another bug bear that seemingly never ends is car insurance adverts. They are all, to a man, annoying and appeal to village idiots only. The ad tells us about six trillion times how easy it is to use their site, just in case you’re a retarded driver needing insurance and can’t cope with more complex sites that don’t have jolly animations all over them.

And don’t even get me started on Michael Winner telling us to calm down dear…

Then again, on the flipside, by far the best TV ad ever was the one featuring the Gorilla who’s getting down with a set of drums to advertise Cadbury’s. It was epic and I still watch it on YouTube just for the sheer joy of it. That gorilla positively emanates joy of living as he prepares to hammer out In The Air Tonight. Whoever came up with that ad needs a medal – I mean, what on earth does Phil Collins, drums and a gorilla have to do with chocolate? Not a thing, but it worked beautifully. Here it is…

However, I was not down with the remix version that showed the gorilla playing to Total Eclipse of the Heart. It kinda ruined it but nonetheless, it didn’t detract from the original awesome video.

So, just what is it that makes some ads hugely popular while others make you want to suffocate the dog, just so you’ve allowed all that rage an outlet? Let us know if you can pin it down! And let us know which ads you love or hate too.

I suppose one of the factors why some ads are hateful is that advertisers often invoke a deliberate policy of making ads annoying based on the theory that the more annoying the ad, the more it’ll stick in our minds, which ultimately is the way to get us to remember it and presumably buy their product.

Famous ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi’s strategy director told the Guardian last year that…

“Annoying ads like Cillit Bang can have that way of worming their way inside your head.

“In fact, the theory of likable advertising – like my ad, like my brand – that has been really popular in the past, is perhaps often overrated.”

So maybe that’s why car insurance ads are purposely the mental equivalent of nails on a chalk board… or maybe they’re just annoying, end of. Give us your twopennorth… and while you’re at it, if anyone knows the whereabouts of the awesome Barry Scott and his shiny penny, please tell him I miss his yelling at me about said shiny penny.

It’s just not the same now he’s not on telly saying “Bang! And the dirt is gone!” My husband misses bringing out his joke too – the only one he owns bless him – about what Barry would say it they took one of the I’s and one of the L’s out of Cillit… he doesn’t get out much and it gave him so much joy…


Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.