I hate this ad more than the BNP


In my teenage years, as a baby Hamlet hyped up on existential angst, cheap lager and Henry Miller novels, I was a big fan of the Welsh political rock band, Manic Street Preachers. I developed a pen-friendship with Richey Edwards, the lyricist/guitarist who disappeared in 1994. I’d send him my gonzo fanzines and he’d send me letters and books from wherever they were recording or on tour. “Music is right at the bottom of our list of priorities,” Richey once wrote to me. Which summed up one of the things I loved about them – and, conversely, dislike about a lot of bands today – that they understood the importance of image, iconography, ideas. Sensationalists who played the media to get themselves onto the map, in an early interview with the NME they said, “We’ll always hate Slowdive more than Hitler.” Which was clearly daft and offensive, but it was an interesting take on the way our perspectives get skewed around the worlds we inhabit.

I thought of all of this the other day when I saw the ad above. If you can’t be arsed clicking on it to make it legible, it’s a couple of standard stock shots divided by the line: ‘Life is a journey in which we’re all travellers, looking to make that great trip with someone.’ Wow, deep, eh?

One way of looking at it is that it’s just one more forgettable ad in a world full of them. Dull wallpaper, who cares, move on, right? But, as someone who spends my life searching for fresh ways to express ideas, it just annoys the shit out of me. Like a carpenter irritated by a badly made table or chef pissed off by a crap sandwich, it winds me up disproportionately. It’s simultaneously bland and stupid; it pretends to be wise but is incredibly shallow. In lieu of intelligent thought, they’ve spend a small fortune on media to thrust some inane platitude into our faces. And most goat-getting of all, it gives me absolutely zero reason to consider flying to Malaysia on Malaysia Airlines.

Martin Amis memorably described the application of creativity as “the war against cliché.” The team responsible for this effort capitulated way too easily.


About antmelder
Executive Creative Director at Host/Havas Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

5 Responses to I hate this ad more than the BNP

  1. Simon Helyar says:

    You might’ve seen this one around the Tube. I stare at it to purposely wind myself up. Why do we do things like that? The proper Tube one has way more copy to get riled up about too.

  2. antmelder says:

    Hi Simon. I don’t particularly like it but I think it’s got a lot going for it. Much more than the Malaysia Airlines ad. Firstly, it’s really distinctive, so it doesn’t fall into the 89% of ads that get totally forgotten. And secondly, it’s routed in a truth – about the nature of preconceptions. That doesn’t make it good or effective, but I don’t hate it.

  3. Anon says:

    Personally I hate that Cat ad far more than the Malaysia airlines ad. The cat ad is offensive, shallow and stupid. Unless I am missunderstanding it, they are saying the bald cat with different coloured eyes isnt cute…because we expect a fluffy cat instead. The airmalaysia ad at least is trying to aim for something positive…admittedly is does little to define itself against competitors or stand out in any way, but perhaps the company are happy to sit in the ‘holiday cliche’ ad bubble – many companies dont want to stand out for fear of offending, they are happy to target people in the traditional ‘dull’ route. From that perspective its quite successful.

  4. antmelder says:

    Hi Anon. For me, the key issue here is that 4% of advertising is remembered positively, 7% is remembered negatively and 89% isn’t noticed or remembered at all. If it was my money, I’d rather fall into the 7% than the 89%. To not “stand out for fear of offending” and to “target people in the traditional ‘dull’ route” is akin to flushing your budget down the toilet.

  5. Rich Beer says:

    This reminds me of something I once saw Chris Eubank say on a TV chat show – I forget which. Dressed in tweed with his stupid monocle jammed in his face, he turned to the audience like some kind of modern savant divulging a rare flash of wisdom and said: “I have a saying. Life is a journey. Travel life.”

    There was a pause and then the audience burst into that special kind of ironic applause and whooping that the British do so well. It was fantastic. He didn’t know how to react.

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