Stephen Fry has not learned. Bonus Brooker bile edition

Posted in offenders with tags , , on December 2, 2009 by Alice

I’m rubbish at updating this (in my defence, I am constantly working to steadily decrease the amount of time I spend seeing, hearing or being aware of adverts. And I like looking at that photo of Scarlett Johansson), so here’s a festive link to Charlie Brooker – disparaging Jamie Oliver, Richard Hammond, Denise van Outen, Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Saunders, Twiggy, James Nesbitt, Philip Glenister, and yes, dear old uncle Stephen Fry too in his inimitably wonderful style.

Extra (though non-celebrity-related) credit for the line ‘I usually quite like women, but this [Boots’ ‘Here Come the Girls’] advert makes me want to kill about 900 of them with my bare hands’.

Happy Hanukah to that.


Scarlett Johansson

Posted in actors, offenders, repeat offenders with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2009 by Alice
Id probably buy a shot of rabies if Scarlett Johansson sold it to me, says Total Film subscriber NickyC. Aint it the truth.

'I'd probably buy a shot of rabies if Scarlett Johansson sold it to me', says Total Film subscriber NickyC. Ain't it the truth.

NAME: Scarlett Johansson

FAMOUS FOR: Being a superstar, pretty good actor, and the most unbelievably beautiful person in the world. Having a Teenagers song about her (which is ace). I want to list some films she’s done here but I’m not sure whether I shouldn’t just be putting ‘Those eyes! Those lips! Those (cough) curves!’ All right, so, she was really good in underrated Coen Brothers neo-noir The Man Who Wasn’t There when she was 15. By 18 she’d won a Bafta for a starring role — Lost in Translation, which she’s brilliant in and is one of those rare films that’s actually genuinely touching. One of the memorably sad/funny scenes in the film is Bill Murray’s mildly bitter, washed-up movie star character getting his best hangdog face out when he feels left out of the loop while filming an ad for Suntory whisky (which is actually de-lish, I can has lucrative brand endorsement deal nao pls? Only joshing!).
Learn from Bill Murray, young Scarlett! Advertising makes fools of us all!

ADVERTISES: Seriously, everything. I’m thinking I should maybe add ‘being the only person who endorses more products than Thierry Henry‘ to ‘famous for’ above. Calvin Klein fragrance, Eternity Moment; Louis Vuitton handbags and other silly accessories; Moët & Chandon champagne; Dolce & Gabbana cosmetics; L’Oréal cosmetics, which are bloody ubiquitous; Reebok sportswear (I didn’t understand that one either); Spanish fashion retailer Mango, etc. She’s about seven years younger than Thierry as well so there’s plenty of time for her to take over his Renault and Gilette duties, why not, and indeed shill every single other brand that exists if this trend continues.

Obviously, all these endorsements mean one thing for us Joe Public types: more pictures of Scarlett Johansson. So, honestly, I probably wouldn’t mind, except for the fact that some of these shots – L’Oréal being the worst, I reckon – are inexplicably bad, which is just wrong. How on earth is it possible to make her look cheap? Oh, wait, that’s right, selling rather nasty lipstick is in fact cheap. This makes me sad. Buck up, Scarlett — after all, tomorrow is another day.

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Stephen Fry

Posted in actors, offenders with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2009 by Alice
Stephen Fry

Moab is my Washpot; Direct Line is my insurance provider, considerably less interestingly

NAME: Stephen Fry

FAMOUS FOR: Actor, comedian, television presenter, author, Twitterer, rector, blogger, swearer, new Oscar Wilde, reader of all the Harry Potter books on tape to millions of chiddlers, second most influential gay person in Britain (Independent on Sunday), Pipe Smoker of the Year, clever chap, everyone’s favourite imaginary uncle, national treasure

ADVERTISES: See, as far as I know, he used to only advertise Twinings tea, and while it made me feel a little bit uncomfortable to see my favourite imaginary uncle doing such a thing, I let him away with it, the lovable rogue, because, you know, Twinings is so terribly terribly English that it did sort of seem a good fit, and because tea really is very nice.
Oh, and because of course Scroobius Pip helpfully informed us all, ‘Thou shalt not question Stephen Fry’, and who am I to argue with that? I tolerated his tea adverts just as I tolerated his slightly rubbish TV show QI, just as I put up with it, grinned and bore it when I saw he had a misplaced apostrophe on his Twitter the other day. AND YET HERE I AM. Today, I dare to question Stephen Fry. It breaks my heart to do it, but I must. I say ‘Stephen Fry, dear Stephen Fry, dear old sweet uncle Stephen Fry, why on earth are you currently providing the voice of an anthropomorphic red telephone in ads for UK insurer Direct Line?’
There’s no need for that.

Paul Merton’s no better, obviously, but he is considerably less of a celebrity which makes it much easier to imagine that he just needs to pay the rent. He is a total repeat offender mind you, having previously advertised W H Smith, The Money Store, soap, and bread among other things.

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Thierry Henry

Posted in offenders, repeat offenders, sportspeople with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2009 by Alice
Ey booddy! What's the French for 'I look like a dick'?

Ey booddy! What's the French for 'I look like a dick'?

NAME: Thierry Henry

FAMOUS FOR: Being ridiculously good at football, and really hot. As a Spurs fan, it still pains me ever so slightly to go through this list of accolades, but: top scorer of all time for French national team; top scorer of all time for Arsenal; voted Greatest Player ever by Arse fans; FIFA 100 chosen by Pelé; Time 100; three League titles, three FA Cups, two Community Shields, a French Super Cup, a Confederations Cup, a UEFA Cup and a FIFA World Cup; top scorer in the Premiership four times; French Player of the Year five times; French Young Player of the Year; PFA Players’ Player of the Year twice; Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year three times; European Golden Boot winner twice; Ballon d’Or; Onze d’Or; Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur.
And really hot.

ADVERTISES: What doesn’t he advertise?! His rather lovely features have been inexplicably linked with such brands as French car Renault Clio; American carbonated beverage Pepsi (along with lots of other footy greats who should also be ashamed of themselves – Beckham, Ronaldhino, Ljungberg, Fabregas, Messi); Japanese football video game Pro Evolution Soccer 4 and 5; English sportswear manufacturer Reebok; American sports apparel and equipment giant, and alleged human rights violator, Nike; and most recently (I think), American personal hygiene product manufacturer Gillette (a Procter & Gamble brand), in a frankly weird spot which features him dressing all in black like a ninja and then standing around giggling while Roger Federer lovingly caresses Tiger Woods’ face.

As you might have gathered, it’s the Gillette one that’s really got under my skin recently – I mean, why has such a sporting hero allowed himself to be photoshopped into the background next to these chumps with tiny balls? Who even is that guy next to Tiger anyway? Why wasn’t he in the creepy cheek-stroking ad?

But the other issue I’ve got with Henry’s repeat offences is that he actually also does loads of really respectable stuff for causes like UNICEF, cystic fibrosis research, the Love United campaign fundraising for HIV/AIDS research, and the Stand Up Speak Up campaign against racism in football, which he launched after Luis Aragonés (who, incidentally, still has a job – why?) gave him some unpleasant grief in 2004. Surely, by spreading himself about like this, by over-saturating our billboards, televisions and newspapers with countless reproductions of his sculpted cheekbones and boyish grin, he must be devaluing his star text on some level and the worthwhile messages he’s sending across – as well as our memories of his amazing goals – will be diluted and clouded over time by the sheer volume of endorsements the man’s got going on.

Basically, what I’m saying is: please, mon ami, fermez la bouche about cars and razors – shut up and play some football already. If this level of advertising is allowed to continue, the world may be at high risk of developing a syndrome that I call ‘Thierry ennui’.

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Johnny Rotten

Posted in musicians, offenders with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2009 by Alice

NAME: John Lydon, also known as Johnny Rotten

"I only do things that I want to or that I believe in and I have to do it my way"

"I only do things that I want to or that I believe in and I have to do it my way"

FAMOUS FOR: Lead vocalist of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Limited; spokesman of the British punk movement of the 1970s and post-punk innovator; possibly beating people up (Duffy, Kele Okereke, hotel staff, television producers); more recently, just slagging people off (apparently Pink Floyd were ‘crap. A load of old twaddle’; Sting and the Police are ‘soggy old dead carcasses’; Coldplay are ‘a gang of little poncey masturbators. [Their music is] a box of tosh sold to slightly inadequate, half-baked people’, and ITV viewers are ‘fucking cunts’.)

ADVERTISES: Dairy Crest brand, Country Life butter, for £5 million (reportedly resulting in an 85% sales boost)

In 2000, Lydon – who lives in Los Angeles, California – told a journalist from the Australia Broadcasting Corporation: “I am a dissatisfied person – I have been since the day I was born into a class system I find disgusting and appalling and will not tolerate – and anyone who tries to ever victimise me or people like me will get this kind of thing in return. […]

Look at these toss-pot fools […] With the imitation fashion victims et cetera, they come to me and not the other way round. I’ve never had to condescend to join the masses, not once, ever. You can never say Johnny sold out.”

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Iggy Pop

Posted in actors, musicians, offenders with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2009 by Alice
Is this the saddest thing?

Is this the saddest thing?

NAME: Iggy Pop (born James Newell Österberg, Jr.)

FAMOUS FOR: Being a punk rock legend, lead singer with the Stooges (1968-75); long and varied solo career; production; drug fiend; rock iguana; chairman of the bored; playing keyboards for and numerous collaborations with the incomparable David Bowie, who does not advertise car insurance (co-wrote China Girl); loads of work with other artists, amazing vocals on Death in Vegas’ Aisha (1999); acting (Sid and Nancy, Tank Girl, The Color of Money, Star Trek, Grand Theft Auto IV); not owning a shirt; owning transparent vinyl trousers; generally getting his wang out a lot

ADVERTISES: UK-based online insurance company Swiftcover, for £25 million

You’ve heard of that belief (Australian Aboriginal? Or was it Native American?) that every time a person is photographed, the camera steals a part of their soul? Well, when a person is photographed and the words ‘Get Swiftcovered’ are emblazoned across the photograph and the photograph is reproduced on posters and websites for all the world to see, I think it’s not just the subject – we all lose a little piece of our souls. What we have seen cannot be unseen. Why, Iggy? Why?

Honestly, I can’t go on, this makes my blood run cold.

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The Rules

Posted in general with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2009 by Alice

‘Proper celebrities doing rubbish adverts’ is a fairly clear description of what this is all about, I’d hope, but before we begin, just a wee bit of clarification. There are only two rules, really:

1. Proper celebrities

I want to start by saying I can totally forgive normal people, like you or me, who do some work in advertising or marketing. Several of my friends do it; Salman Rushdie did it (before he was a proper celebrity, I mean); hell, I’ve done it myself from time to time. That’s fine. It pays the rent, just about, and if you enjoy writing or design, ad agencies actually can be a good way to sharpen up your skills and you might even get to have a bit of fun along the way – I liked sneakily inserting references to the excellent John Ruskin in bits of copywriting for the UK’s second largest bank for grins. Sure, you feel a little dirty, a little used at the end of each day, you might wish you’d never had to find out what a ‘balance transfer’ even was so you could write 500 words about it – but it means you can afford to eat tonight, have a shower and wash off the greasy sheen of lucre you’re sure you can see on your skin, maybe even push the boat out and drink enough at the weekend that you can forget you ever did it (and what a balance transfer is to boot).

So, this isn’t about vilifying everyone who works in advertising, it is a place for Proper Celebrities only – people who are wealthy and famous for doing something entertaining or even useful. If you can’t remember what they did before they were on adverts – not a proper celebrity. If you think maybe they were married to one of Westlife or maybe it was Blue – not a proper celebrity. If they were on Big Brother – not a proper celebrity. (Heck, if they were on Celebrity Big Brother they’re almost certainly not a proper celebrity either, but we’ll decide that on a case by case basis). I don’t care what some z-lister, you know, like, the runner-up from Britain’s Next Top Pop Factor Apprentice chooses to do with their empty little life, I’m talking about people you’ve never met, you were probably never going to meet, but you had some measure of respect for. Once.

2. Proper adverts

I’m not about to malign anyone for doing publicity campaigns for charities or other non-profits – I’m not a monster! It also doesn’t count, obviously enough, if someone’s shown in an ad for a film, piece of music, book, or festival which features them. These have to be proper rubbish adverts for products and services otherwise unrelated to the celebrity in question – bonus points may be awarded for utter incongruity, like sportspeople advertising fatty foods and sugary drinks, or aging rock stars advertising insurers who refuse to cover professional musicians.

I was considering putting a caveat in here about some kind of minimum level of rubbishness I wanted to see either in the advert itself, or the product being sold – but I don’t think it’s workable, that stuff is all just too subjective. However, this does seem like as good a time as any to mention my pet theory that there seems to be a significant inverse correlation between volume of marketing material and actual desirability of any given product. Insurance is a great example: think about it – how many adverts for insurance, and equally boringly, websites where you can price-compare various types of insurance, do you see every day? Absolutely loads. Could this be because insurance is possibly the single least enjoyable, rewarding or interesting thing you can spend money on, and nobody, not one person in the entire history of the human race, has ever wanted it?

Now, how often do you see adverts for, say, motorbikes? I don’t believe I recall ever seeing one, except maybe in a specialist publication about motorbikes. That’s because motorbikes are de facto fun, cool and exciting. You see a motorbike in the street: you want it. I guess that means you have just been advertised to, my friend, and nobody got hurt. You did not want to throw up. A little piece of you did not curl up and die inside like it did when you saw that Iggy Pop ad. Car manufacturers, on the other hand, feel they need the huge marketing budgets they use to advertise the hell out of cars, because it turns out cars are actually pretty rubbish, honest, I’ve tried one. They smell weird, they look stupid, they pollute everything, they’re really heavy and you can’t do tricks. BOOO-RING. You can’t feel the wind in your hair when you’re driving a car. You can’t even drive them in cool places, like the park or the beach, and thank heavens for that. Car manufacturers have to spend millions and millions of pounds desperately trying to convince us that their products are in some way enjoyable, hip, stylish, or capable of making us more attractive to potential mates, simply because, well, they’re not.

Okay, I realise I could go on about this and consumerism and stuff all day, so lecture over. But have a think about it.

With that out of the way – let dissing commence!