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Buy this, you fool! The horrible world of TV commercials #1
Slarek | 6 April 2012

You know what you are? An idiot, that's what. At least that's what the makers of TV commercials believe. They are convinced they can sell you a whole swathe of overpriced and unnecessary products by spinning you a yarn, telling you a bad joke, or appealing to some deeply buried desire on your part to look or feel like someone you're not. The trouble is, they can. Commercials, for the most part, do shift the products they are hawking. They'd soon vanish if they didn't. For ex-commercials director Ridley Scott they were a training ground, 45-second mini-movies that allowed him to hone his technical and storytelling skills. These days, however, such movies are almost always shallow, deceitful and intellectually offensive. And yet we continue to tolerate their presence and buy the goods and services they shamelessly flog.

Everyone has ads that get on their tits, and just maybe my contempt for pretty much every commercial I have the misfortune to clap my eyes on is a little extreme. But I dislike being treated like a gullible sap by people I wouldn't piss on if saw them on fire. And for all their plush production values and friendly faced stars, it's always worth remembering that commercials only have one purpose, and that's to con you into handing over money for something you probably wouldn't have bought otherwise. In this respect they are little more than expensively dressed con men selling a product you probably don't need wrapped in superficially attractive and misleading clothing.

I genuinely steer clear of such ads in the safety of my own home, but the time spent each week in the company of relatives exposes me to the buggers on a too-regular basis. And there's a type flying round at the moment that particularly gets up my hooter, ones intent on selling you a product to help you cope with the fact that you're hopeless without it. There have been a fair few of these in the past couple of years. They usually kick off with the advertising world's over-polished version of an ordinary Jill or Joe – you, basically – being shown to be incapable of carrying out simple tasks like watering the garden or painting a wall, which are then able to execute with ease once they're handed whatever half-arsed product the ad is pushing.

A typical example is the latest Dyson commercial, in which a woman we can presume has for years been lumbered with the thankless job of cleaning the family home is shown struggling with the task because – wait for it – she can't get her present vacuum cleaner round corners. Are you kidding me? My next door neighbour's dog could pull a vacuum cleaner round a corner without wrestling with the hose like the good lady here, and he's had almost no experience of serious house cleaning.

And then we have the Philadelphia soft cheese company, who, seemingly concerned that there aren't enough unhealthy foods on the market, have combined two of them to give us chocolate flavoured cheese. Knowing that most level headed consumers are likely to balk at the very idea, the dweebs responsible for selling this twaddle have hired Jennifer Saunders – yet another once popular comedian slumming it for cash they neither need nor deserve – to convince us of its brilliance by pretending to be you. Like you, she thinks chocolate cheese is a ridiculous idea, but has decided to prove it by buying some and eating it, and it proves so delicious she nearly orgasms on the spot. This, of course, is meant to crudely mock your cynicism and imply that you should follow her celebrity lead, you weak-minded and suggestible Pavlovian puppies. And some witless bastard got paid good money to write this.

But the one that really winds me up at the moment features a small band of British celebs – people who probably spend a good part of their professional careers jet-setting around the world – telling us that we should stay on home turf in 2012 instead of holidaying abroad. A key reason is outlined in the opening shot, as a family who've doubtless had their holiday planned for months flap like headless chickens because they can't remember where they put the passports they presumably forgot they would need to get out of the country, while Stephen Fry patronisingly smiles, shakes his head and assures us that "It's just not worth it." Going abroad, you see, is just too complex a task for us thickie non-celebrity types to accomplish without getting our collective knickers in a twist. A string of limp reasons for holidaying at home this year are then paraded before us, my favourite being "You won't get to see the Olympic torch relay in Corfu or Crete." Corfu or Crete. Yeah, that's just where lemmings like you go on holiday. And how can a relaxing couple of weeks sipping ouzo on the Vai Palm Beach compare with catching a brief glimpse of someone running down a road with a flaming stick? No surprise that that this particular campaign was created by crapmeisters M&C Saatchi and supported by Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt.

Of course, even if you refuse to buy products being promoted by commercials you really hate, your purchasing choices also end up shaped by these awful bastards. With that in mind, I choose to consider it a happy coincidence that I'd never buy a Dyson cleaner, have no intention of ever stuffing my face with chocolate cheese, and am saving like shit to get out of the country when the Olympics roll into town.