Ad of the year so far

2016 benchmark set, eh?

I bet you can’t watch this all the way to the end

If you do, I guarantee it’ll be through your fingers, with your jaw agape. It came to mind the other day when someone asked me about my favourite ads of last year. This was one of them – not because it’s a brilliantly crafted example of advertising creativity, but because its surreal awfulness was so piss-yourself-laughing-OMFG unintentionally entertaining. Shocking and hilarious – though, sadly, not in the way Louis CK is shocking and hilarious – it has to be a contender for the annual Ferrero Rocher ‘Ambassador’ So Bad It’s Good Award 2015.

A mind-bending mash-up of a fucked up idea, terrible writing, insanely bad performances and bargain basement production values, it’s so bad it induces a kind of terrifying out-of-body experience, like the advertising version of a nightmarish mushroom trip. This turkey to out-turkey all turkeys is like some hideous image that once seen can never been un-seen (Google search images of ‘lemon party’ for an example but don’t blame me if you’re semi-permanently mentally scarred); it’s unforgettable in its dreadfulness. And like a motorway pile-up, it’s weirdly compelling and extremely difficult to look away.

 I can imagine how it might’ve seemed like a good idea when it was presented. “Let’s not do an ad…online content is where it’s at”; “It’ll be like this hype-reel of Friends-Modern Family-30 Rock-Outnumbered…but miles funnier”; “Why be restricted to 30 seconds when we can take as long as we want to unpack the product story online?”; “We have some major talent lined up for the lead roles”; “We can chop up the content to use as pre-rolls”; “This is totally the kind of thing that gets shared and talked about”. Versions of all these old chestnuts would’ve been rolled out and there’s arguably nothing wrong with any of them. But perhaps herein lies a cautionary tale about what happens when ‘content’ goes wrong. If it isn’t build on a bedrock of great writing, it isn’t going to work. It reminds me of Harrison Ford’s comment to George Lucas about early Star Wars dialogue: You can type this shit, George, but you sure can’t say it.”

The bit at 3.20 where Kelly Brook mimes blowing her brains out with a shotgun is sensationally ironic because that’s exactly what every viewer who makes it that far is wanting to do by that point. But not before hunting down that insufferable arsewipe in the quilted jacket and ramming his Bluetooth headset so far up his behind that his internal organs will be taking his calls for the forseeable future. In fact, at one stage I felt genuinely sorry for poor old George the salesman for having to put up with this heinous couple’s horrendously scripted passive-aggressive flirtation. But then I remembered he was an actor too and, therefore, a willing participant in this misguided mentalism.

I’m a dyed-in-the-wool atheist who believes in neither god nor the devil. But if there was such a place as hell, I reckon this would be ad that runs before the main feature double bill of Battlefield Earth followed by Swept Away. On constant rotation. For eternity. Or, talking of hell, how about extending the idea out to further scenarios and giving Dan and Debbie their very own Channel 5 sitcom?