It started fairly innocuously with a barely sane looking John Lydon suggesting he “prefers Country Life to sniffing safety pins” but in these more volatile economic times, it’s become ever more likely you will be confronted in your armchair by increasingly undesirable characters using their reputation and fear to steer your consumer choices.
The slogan; “Buy County Life – I spat in all the others” was held up by the Advertising Standards Commission despite several, or possibly only one, elderly couple switching to margarine out of a genuine fear of “spitty butter”
This seems to have opened the floodgates with a series of new ad campaigns aimed at bullying or frightening the viewer into purchases.
“I almost shitted myself” said Doreen Middlehump (78) from Exeter “when I turned on the telly to find Naomi Campbell threatening to throw her mobile phone at me REALLY HARD if I didn’t buy some high gloss L’Oreal foot paste” She later confessed off camera to buying 4 tubs of the product “and I don’t even have feet” she added.
Some of the most controversial ‘Fearmmercials’ have been:
An ad where ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser, who has taken up sides with the Country life’s rival to launch a campaign to counter Rotten’s, in which he growls to the viewer - “If you don’t buy this princess, it’ll be utterly battery”
Birdseye have recently shown a series where a terrified and bloodied Captain Birdseye is being held captive and beaten by one-eyed Somali Pirate whilst begging “i.. need.. ransom.... money”
Nestlé is reportedly following suit this December, when they plan to drop the Milkybar Kid and replace him with a new ‘edgy’ post watershed campaign featuring a Marilyn Manson spattered with milky globules and sneering “the milky bars are on me”
This epidemic began in the nineties with Safestyle Windows, who traumatised the nation by employing a spokesman who looks and acts like Bill Bailey on crack, shrieking at terrified viewers to “buy one and get one free”. This was largely dismissed as sinister weirdness, until the latest wave of advertising executives re-discovered it a few years back and jumped on the idea.
So for the time being it doesn’t look like we’ll be coming out from behind the sofas any time soon.