Hey! Look! It’s Not Just Me Moaning!

Here’s an article from today’s G2 entitled ‘Why this is the summer of the bad advert’:

This summer was looking bad enough without the onset of the worst advertising of all time. The eye-stabbingly terrible spot for Car Spotter – a service you text to find out how much your car is worth – is the clear winner here. A shabby man is loading shopping in to his boot, another man asks, “How much is your car worth?”, the first man says he doesn’t know and that’s basically the end of the ad.

Sadly it’s not alone. There’s that Churchill Insurance dog, the grimly forgettable confused.com and gocompare.com not to mention Dragon’s Den’s Peter Jones fronting a moneysupermarket.com campaign that’s so good the client started shortlisting alternative ad agencies a week after it broke. Even the previously passable CompareTheMeerkat campaign has started to eat itself, with a tediously unfunny “bloopers” spot. When these ads try to be witty and knowing – the Pot Noodles High School Musical skit is another example – they become even more annoying than they artfully admit to being.

When did our ads become so awful? Once, I’d actually ask my brother to call me when the ad break started. These days I’m thinking of swapping cable for satellite just to get Sky+.

Could it be the recession? Perhaps. Ad budgets are falling and redundancies are sweeping the industry – but recessions are historically fertile for British adland. Levi’s agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty launched during the early 80s slump while Tango’s HHCL was founded amid the ruins of Black Wednesday. Indeed, the early 90s and Noughties downturns meant young, cheap talent produced ads such as Ray Gardner berating the French on the White Cliffs of Dover for Blackcurrant Tango or the epic scope of 2001’s 10-part ad-length thriller for BMW starring Clive Owen.

Does it really matter? Yes. The UK ad industry helped launch the careers of scores of writers, actors, musicians and directors including Ridley Scott, Stiltskin, Alan Parker, Fay Weldon, Salman Rushdie, Brad Pitt, Justice, David Puttnam, Peter Carey, Alec Guinness and Dorothy L Sayers.

Unless the industry raises its sights a little higher, however, that particular wellspring of culture looks set to disappear into a puppet meerkat’s swollen belly.