Startling British TV Ads of 2011

Other people’s TV commercials are weird, aren’t they? It’s easy to get used to your own because they’re on all the time, and the internal reference points have to be universal to your culture or they don’t really work as adverts. Play the same ads across a global arena and everything suddenly looks very different.

Mind you, the magnificent seven examples here look fairly strange to us Brits too:

Twinings Tea

So we’ve got a woman in a boat, and she’s not very good at rowing. And she manages to wash up on the shore of a desert island, only to be met there by herself (or her idential twin sister who happened to buy the same outfit, which, given everything people do say about identical twins, is at least feasible). Somehow there are tea-making facilities on this desert island and somehow they’ve got a supply of Twinings tea, rather than, say, just some random leaves from a nearby palm tree.

Match.com

Ah yes, things which appear to be sweet on TV, that would be hideously embarrassing in real life. Some wazzock on the opposite platform starts singing a song about you, and uses it to find out personal details, and somehow that’s not sexual harrassment so long as he’s got a ukulele? Hmm, Match.com, HMM…

Cravendale Milk

This ad explains itself. It’s like that film about birds by Alfred Hitchcock where the birds gather and attack people using their birdy beaks and birdy flocking powers. I forget what it’s called. This time it’s cats, and they’ve got thumbs, but no milk. And somehow they’d rather mug a human than use their thumbs to milk a cow themselves. Bloody freeloaders.

Weetabix

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLUkpyTUi5M

Ah! A message anyone can get their heads around: eat Weetabix, and you’ve got a whole day’s worth of energy to put up with your awful life. It doesn’t seem to stop you being a moany old faceache, however.

Walls Sausages

There’s something a little creepy about this ad. Not perv-on-a-train-platform-with-a-uke creepy, but creepy nonetheless. Mind you, you’ve got to love a tiny rapping bulldog that so clearly wishes to be Mike Skinner from the Streets.

Bombadier Beer

Rik Mayall doing his Lord Flashheart bit from Blackadder, only with mutton-chops instead of that blonde moustache. As an exercise in brand awareness, this is, to coin a phrase, bang on, even if it’s clearly not an idea which took a lot of coming up with.

Oh, before you watch this last one, just gird your loins and maybe keep a tissue handy, OK?

John Lewis

Yeah, we all love a mournful and stripped-back version of a hit song from yesteryear, which is why John Lewis release a different one every Christmas. I won’t spoil it if you haven’t watched the clip yet, but suffice to say we hope that’s an actual present at the end, and not, say, a gift-wrapped badger, scraped from the road outside.

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 13 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Music.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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