Today – for the millionth and first time - I’m going to have a little muse on adverts. Now adverts are interesting things. In short, they are attention bandits looking to distract you towards the wild and crazy things or messages they are trying to sell. You find them everywhere, as they increasingly invade your consciousness like an annoying child trying to sing an annoying song they’ve learned from the TV.
Here follows a collection of the different types of advert you may have seen around the world and what they are secretly saying to you. Most of these are quite obvious, although some carry more subtle messages.
Web banners (especially any that incorporate pop-up sound and video)
What they are: These have grown up with the internet. True, not many of them are as annoying as they could be. Although I’ve noticed that recently advertisers are starting use video ads that have an irritating habit of suddenly taking up most of the screen. As for what they subtly say….. Actually there is no subtlety to these what so ever. It’s the advertising equivalent of shouting in your face whilst holding a banner.
What they are actually saying: “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! I HAVE AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FOR YOU! NO IT CAN’T WAIT! YOU MUST LOOK AT IT NOW, OTHERWISE SATAN AND HIS ARMY OF DARKNESS WILL RISE AND WE SHALL ALL BE RAPED BY A THOUSAND RAZOR COVERED PRODS!”
What they are: These have become quite contentious of late as people have slowly become aware that this is a ruse to exploit the creatures of habit that consumers are perceived to be. Every ad is there to hook you in some way or another, although this style of advert literally takes the hook ploy to the next level by sticking a tasty worm on it. Much like a hooked fish that has enjoyed it’s disappointing and surprising worm dinner and has got a barbed spike through its lip, the customer has been lured towards something that appeared tasty only to find there was a sting in the tail.
What they are actually saying: “Yes! Come into my trap you fool! I shall lure you with treasures beyond you’re wildest dreams and then, and only then, you shall belong to us!”
Adverts promising that a company won’t rip you off (unlike all those other bastard competitors):
What they are: These exist as a direct response to the above and also relish in the opportunity to slag off the competition. It’s a sad world where a company has to explicitly promise not to rip you off.
What they are actually saying: “Oh you want to buy something from our competitor? Oh that’s cool. But I heard off someone that they molest dogs, not that we ever did that ourselves of course”
Avant Garde nonsense ad:
What they mean: Because of new laws governing how snacks can be sold, advertisers have attempted to circumvent the rules by producing nonsensical stuff, which has nothing to do with their product and makes the viewer associate an interesting image with their brand. The Cadburys gorilla is the best example of this.
What they are actually saying: “Look at the monkey, look at the silly monkey. Oh and buy this.”
The smart-arse friend:
What they are:Like a helpful friend, the advertiser is trying to make you aware of a new law or scheme coming into effect. These adverts often depict a couple of mates talking about a common problem, when suddenly one of the chums launches into a highly articulate description of a company, service or piece of information.
What they actually say: “Alright mate having a problem, maybe if I went into unnaturally nuanced detail that may help. Funny how I know so much about the new extremely complicated football tax that’s recently been introduced isn’t it”
Informant meets idiot:
What they are: These are frustratingly common. The situation depicted in these occasionally varies between a scene with a weirdo acting weird or a complete idiot being easily led into buying something with little to no discernment and a lot of gullibility (by the way they are implying the idiot is you).Why do they do it? Simple: funny/entertaining/irritating scenes are memorable and using idiots is the best way to create that kind of scene.
What they actually say:
Informant bank teller: “Hello sir. Welcome to Fiddler’s Bank, how can I help you today”
Idiot: “PHNERRR PHNERRR DERR DERR NUUUUUR”
Informant Bank teller: “I see, did you know that you could earn 10 per cent extra in interest a year if you give us all your money and let us keep it. Scouts honour we won’t piss it up the wall on executive bonuses”
Idiot: “GUUUURRR! GUUUR!” (indicating he says yes)
(Let’s face it most of the public are weird idiots when it comes down to it)
Look how fucking good we are:
What they are: You will have seen this a lot. This refers to any time a company has boasted to you about how good it’s employee’s farts smell or that how everyone who ever used it’s service or product is now a millionaire sex god/goddess. The boasts are often based on some level of truth, but dig a little deeper and you’ll often find something embellished somewhere, showing that once again the world is based on lies.
What they are actually saying: “Did you know that last year we were voted the no 1 insurance company in the world ever by Ostrich fancies monthly? Well now you do, so you know, buy our fridge insurance” (that’s right most of the time when companies are showing off, holding up an award or accolade, it’s mostly been presented by some unimportant magazine or consumer organization, only so the winning company can stick a logo/award notice on its ads to assert it's importance to the undiscerning viewer.)
What they are: TV is a visual medium so why not. Ever seen an advert that made you want to grope a roast chicken or a new car? Chances are you've seen one of these. Any ad that makes a product look irresistibly good or sexy then you are probably watching one of these.
What they are actually saying: “Cor! Look at this car! Look at how sexy the bonnet is! Look at headlamps on that! Wow I just want to get in it and drive it and drive it and drive it till I’m fucking sore!”
Boring people/ celebrities talk about how great something is:
What they are: This is how advertising on TV began. Simple coercion towards buying something because someone said so and plenty of information explaining what the benefits of using this product/service is.
What they are actually saying: “You know when I first visited Perkin’s Pork Clinic, I was skeptical. I was blown away by the pork products on show, which was no small feat considering I’m a vegetarian. I have to say I love Perkin’s Pork Clinic, and I think you will love it too.”
This is by no means a complete list of the ads you will find out there but as many themes overlap you will be able to spot quite a few next time you sit through a break in Celebrity Cosmetic Surgeon Factor or whatever makes up your own personal evening entertainment.