“Dull, obvious, cheap and insistent. They make our evenings look like Moldovan cable channels. Badly styled, awkwardly energetic young people stand in front of green screens, pointing at products and shouting, finishing with electric jingles that sound like a toddler’s ringtone, or a Paul Merton voiceover. There is more than a whiff of desperation about it all, and why wouldn’t there be?
“I blame the depression on advertising agencies — bankers merely shuffle noughts, it’s the advertisers who are supposed to sell us the idea of capitalism. Consumers are the engine that pulls the economy; advertising is the rails it runs on. Money is merely the stuff you burn. But advertising on telly now looks dim, frightened and timid. There’s no sense that the advertisements are made to be things of cultural importance or something you’d be proud to have made.
“I think it all went wrong when agencies stopped using their own names on the letterhead and started calling themselves things like Granny and Spanner and Blue. In the late 1970s, I was shown a leading agency’s showreel. It was a better half-hour than you could have got in any cinema: more imagination, romance and emotion than a hospital library trolley. Advertising doesn’t merely sell you stuff, it tells you where you live. It’s the fixtures and fittings of the culture. When was the last time you saw one that made you want to see it again, or shout “Come quickly, it’s that brilliant ad!”? We’re living in depressing, discounted times.”
Thank you, A.A. Gill of The Sunday Times.