Tag Archives: adverts

Celebrity Families: The Collinses

There’s a party atmosphere at the Collins house as son Marcus opens the door with a grin, resplendent in a startling pair of pomegranate trousers. “Hiya!” says mum Michelle in an accent that roves briefly across ten distinct counties and two Mediterranean ex-pat communities. Meanwhile dad Phil hands me a glass of champagne. It’s the eve of the launch of Marcus’s debut single and the family are understandably excited.

“It’s a cover of the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army,” beams Marcus with a dazzling flash of teeth. “But in an easy listening style!” That sounds like a great idea, I say.

“Has it got an ‘orn section?” asks Phil. Marcus nods happily. “Good! You can’t beat proper instruments. Makes it authentic.” Phil occasionally plays drums in a local weddings band, it turns out. “But don’t tell the taxman!” he cackles.

I ask Michelle what she does for a living. She confides that she’s an accent coach. “So if you wanted to sound like you were from South Glamorgan, for example,” – she begins – “I could teach you!” she concludes in a perfect Bangladeshi twang.

Just then, fashionable grandma Joan totters in and flings a dozen carrier bags to the floor. “Closing down sale at Peacocks!” she gasps ecstatically before thrusting a handful of receipts at Phil. “See what you can do about claiming back the tax, darling.”

I ask Joan what she thinks of her grandson’s burgeoning music career. “Well I always hoped Marcus would go to private school, have the opportunities his mother and father never did,” she says impeccably.

“But it turns out he didn’t want to go up the Eton road!” guffaws Phil. Michelle and Joan glance at one another.

Then, oddly, Joan produces a Snickers bar from her pocket and takes a huge bite with her otherwise perfect teeth. I look around to see Phil has pulled out a Dairy Milk and is heading for his home drum kit in the corner while pulling on a gorilla outfit.

I worry that some sort of chocolate sponsorship is going to spoil the integrity of my interview. I turn to Michelle. “Cup of tea, luv?” she asks Marcus brightly in a faultless Easter Island accent.

“Brew? No. Mars!” smiles Marcus. I can’t help feeling that I’ve missed something.

(continued on page 118)

Favourite albums of 2011

20. Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam

19. Lupe Fiasco – Lasers

18. Lady Gaga – Born This Way

17. Rihanna – Talk That Talk

16. Theophilus London – Timez Are Weird These Days

15. Drake – Take Care

14. Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi

13. Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting

12. Lil B – I’m Gay (I’m Happy)

11. Selena Gomez & The Scene – When The Sun Goes Down

10. CocknBullKid – Adulthood

9. araabMUZIK – Electronic Dream

8. Cher Lloyd – Sticks + Stones

7. Riz MC – MICroscope

6. Beyoncé – 4

5. The Sound of Arrows – Voyage

4. Toddla T – Watch Me Dance

3. Britney Spears – Femme Fatale

Britney’s people have told her that every song on her album Femme Fatale is inspired by a different femme fatale from history, myth or fiction. Poor Britney just can’t work it out though! Can YOU match the lyrics from the album to the  foxy ladies in question? Answers below.

2. The Weeknd – House of Balloons

Poor Abel Tesfaye has just got the artwork for his epically miserable comedown album back from the designers, but it looks like they’ve strayed from his original vision! Can YOU spot the five subtle differences hidden in the new cover?

If you are having trouble spotting all five differences here are some hints!

  • I wonder who else was at those debauched parties he sings about?
  • There’s a subtle theme running through the album but we’ve “inflated” it
  • “Well doesn’t that put the cherry on top”
  • Track titles ‘MAY’ not ‘ALWAYS’ be correct!
  • A dog’s face

1. Katy B – On A Mission

Here are Katy’s missions explained track-by-track:


Attributes: Slowly unfolding; sweeping musical vista; quite long. Mission: 1986 film THE MISSION. (From the IMDB plot synopsis: “Initially, the Guarani warriors prepare to kill him, but after Gabriel plays an unforgettable solo on his oboe, they allow him to live”. And we’ve all had days like that.)


Attributes: Bold, purposeful, brill. Mission: KATY’S MISSION STATEMENT


Attributes: Elegant; structured; accomplished. Mission: MISSION REVIVAL ARCHITECTURE.


Attributes: Startling; Bleepy; Full of twists and turns that leave you feeling dislocated. Mission: Doctor Who‘s 1965 MISSION TO THE UNKNOWN episode with its imagination-gone-mad monsters and lack of regular cast.


Attributes: Propulsive; No nonsense; Designed to make you move. Mission: A SEARCH AND DESTROY MISSION.


Attributes: Dignified; Luxurious; Satisfying. Mission: The DIPLOMATIC MISSION where the Ferrero Rocher-stuffed Ambassador’s Receptions are held.


Attributes: Solid; A bit old-fashioned; Cheery. Mission: THE GLAD TIDINGS MISSION FROM 60s CORONATION STREET, over which Ena Sharples presided; a handy refuge in case of a gas leak on the Street.


Attributes: Bright; Bouncy; Pretty. Mission: MISSION BELL (the flower, stupid.)


Attributes: Passing the torch from one generation of singer to the next; Shiny; Confident. Mission: THE CONTINUING MISSION of Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Enterprise-D.


Attributes: Fun; In your face; Sassy with the fanfares. Mission: The original series of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE.


Attributes: Romantic; Irresistible; Destined to help Magnetic Man be warmly remembered even though most people shrugged at their album proper. Mission: A RESCUE MISSION.


Attributes: Charming; Laidback; Basking in the glow of all that’s come before. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Best Subtitling Disasters of 2011

Let me explain. We’ve got a telly that automatically turns on subtitles when we hit Mute. And we hit Mute a lot: to play something exciting that’s just popped up on the internet, to leave the telly on while doing something else (because brightly lit moving wallpaper is brilliant), or when one of those adverts with babies in it comes on.

Poor J-Lo :-(

So it’s a very clever and helpful feature, but the subtitles do tend to get stuck if we’ve changed channels since the last time we muted. Like in these examples. The first one got a warm reception when I tweeted it back in July so I’ve been saving them up since then. Just for you.

Some of Gary's X Factor judgements were a bit harsh this year

No, that's Gail's actual hair

Yet another quirky video treatment from Will Young

Alan Carr and Tulisa consider how different things might have been

Diana Vickers has an AMAZING secret to share with us

Adverts Explained: Match.com

Dating has never been so twee. What’s the best way of finding a soulmate in 2011 according to the Match.com adverts?

1. Live in an affluent neighbourhood

Just look at that music shop where the couple in the first ad meet. There are no amps piled high in the window, no boxes spilling over with wires and second-hand mixers, no gangs of teenagers trying to bash out something by Enter Shikari in the background — nothing, in short, that’d make it commercially viable. Shops like this, that rely on floppy-haired trustafarians dropping in to impulse-buy a bongo set, just don’t exist in down-to-earth neighbourhoods. So move on up if you’re looking for love.


“I like old movies – like Godfather 3!” Well I’m not the first to criticise that line. Even if we allow that an “old movie” can come from as recently as 1990, “old” isn’t a genre, so liking one doesn’t mean you’ll automatically like another. Is she really thinking “Godfather 3? I love films from twenty years ago too! At last someone who’ll watch Kindergarten Cop and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with me!” No, no she isn’t.


“It’s not considered the best one – but that’s just me!” THAT’S JUST ME. Oh it’s all very well trying to show what an individual you are by liking something that’s not as well liked as other things. Good luck with that. But the thing about Godfather 3 is  that it only really has any resonance, or makes much sense, if you’re already a fan of the earlier, better-loved films. I may as well walk into a bongo shop tomorrow and start singing “I like the Nightmare on Elm Street films! Especially Wes Craven’s New Nightmare! It’s not considered the best one, but I like the play of metafictional ideas and THAT’S JUST ME.”

What he’s basically saying is that he likes self-involved narratives. Which is a good job because he’s living in one.


“Girl on the platform smiled. Best smile he’s seen in a long while!” Quite by accident, the couple in the first advert simultaneously played a chord of D in a music shop. But the fella in the second ad is leaving nothing to chance. He takes his ukulele with him everywhere he goes, the better to sing at anyone he fancies. How many other women have suffered his over-descriptive serenades while going about their daily business? “The girl in front of me buying Canesten at Superdrug’s got such a pretty bob”? “The girl being sick on the nightbus has the sort of thick calves I’d like wrapped around my neck”? The mind boggles.


“She must have been about… 26? 28? 28.” It’s good of Match to be so honest and specific about their target market. I’ve seen the phenomenon myself, as straight friends who are still single as they approach 30 go completely apeshit in their frantic search for a mate. A well chosen segment. And we can see from the ads that it helps to be white and middle class too. Well, OK, you can have a Northern accent, but for God’s sake dress a bit smartly if you do. We don’t want anyone thinking you drive a fork lift truck or something.

6. LIE

“She was a natural blonde! [no] She wasn’t a natural blonde, but that’s what made him fond…” Taking these ads as a dramatisation of the selection process on the dating site, we can infer that you go through ticking preferences for “likes old movies”, “26–28” and so on. So what does it mean that our platform minstrel changes his preference from natural blonde to dyed blonde so quickly? Is it her sheepishness in admitting to it that he likes? A sense of power over her? Or are Match basically saying that really girls, men don’t care what colour your hair is as long as you play with it? I suggest we all sign up and find out.

The 5 most ridiculous homoerotic moments in JLS videos

Every JLS video release brings with it a fresh sense of expectation. Which way will those cheeky jack-the-lads be swinging next? Happily there’s usually a little something tucked away for wishfully-thinking gay fans. Or occasionally, not so little. Here are the highlights:

5. The ‘Puppetmaster’

From their debut Beat Again, Marvin makes clear who’s pulling the strings in this foursome. The boys will do anything for him! They’ll even lie down and each raise a leg in turn as he swings to point at them! And he does.

4. The ‘Junk Adjust’

In their latest video She Makes Me Wanna, Aston’s got something going on in his trousers that only his bandmates get to see. They look on with great interest. Marvin bites his knuckle, though from excitement or to stifle laughter it’s hard to tell.

3. The ‘Tunnel of Truth’

You don’t need a degree in psychoanalysis for this one, from Eyes Wide Shut. Caught in a dreamlike landscape, JB wanders through a dark tunnel (!), following the path of a beautiful lady. But she unexpectedly turns into a shower of mysterious white particles (!!) that nearly drench him before flying outside where a load of big hard trees spring up (!!!). And we cut to Tinie Tempah.

2. The ‘Stand Proud’

Now here’s a thing. In One Shot, the boys have to make their own microphone stands out of pure male energy. They tease them up so carefully, so gently. And when fully extended they stand and gaze upon their erections with looks of blissful loving pride.

1. The ‘Soggy Biscuit’

No, it’s not one of their pop videos, is it. Yes, I’ve cheated haven’t I. Well there you go. How could this, from their Nintendo ad campaign, not be number one? Because to all intents and purposes we’re witnessing the boys at home having a wanking competition.

Note for posterity: this advert was followed up by one in which they played a game of “hide the remote”.

Adverts Explained: Flora Cuisine

Authenticity. Yes, I know, COME BACK. It’s usually such a joyless, patronising sheen to put onto a piece of work, and you won’t generally find me paying service to it. But fake authenticity? That’s proper entertainment.

Advertisers ache to convince us that their products are enjoyed by real people rather than actors and on that basis Flora have secured the services of a celebrity’s actual dear old sweet old funny old working class mum.

So we see that Vernon Kay has popped round to see his ma Gladys. The first problem is that she seems a bit dazed. I’m sure she’s a nice lady, but some people just aren’t suited to being in front of the cameras. No, wait, shut me up! In theory this should help with authenticity, as it’s obvious that she’s really his mum and not an actress. Although that hasn’t stopped people clogging up internet forums asking the question anyway. Well to be honest, if you really think they’d hire a performer whose delivery of the closing strapline was quite so downbeat and lacklustre, you need to go back ten squares and acquaint yourself with a few more ad voiceovers.

Then there’s the script. They really have done their best to incorporate naturalistic pet names and what have you (“Hiya beauts!”) but at some point someone has to say the sort of thing that only people in adverts ever say (“45% less saturated fat than olive oil!”) and it all falls apart. Not to mention that uncomfortable feeling of nudity you get when you can clearly see where the various components of the ad have come from. (“Focus group think the product looks weird!” “No problem, we’ll have Vernon think the same but change his mind when he sees it in action!”)

But what really scuppers this ad’s documentary status is the idea that a Northern mum cooking for her son — especially when she doesn’t get to see him all that often because he’s swanning round that London — is going to make him a tiny vegetarian stir fry when he turns up. It just wouldn’t happen. Even if she is trying to “look after his little ticker” (to which: eww), she’s going to feed him to within an inch of his life. Being health conscious in the Northwest is a simple matter of serving your pie with oven chips rather than chip pan chips.

Of course, the most famous celebrity’s mum in adland is Davina McCall’s from the Garnier Nutrisse ads. Initially heard in phone calls, she soon became a disembodied voice that Davina could hear as she walked about her flat. This left Davina’s hands free to run through her exquisitely nourished hair, but made the whole thing reminiscent of those awkward moments when Wonder Woman would secretly ‘rub her ruby’ in her apartment in order to communicate with her mother on Paradise Island.

When it emerged that in real life Davina and her alcoholic mum had been estranged for years, Davina was forced to clarify that she was actually talking to her stepmum-that-she-calls-mum in the adverts. Then her birth mum died, Davina suffered tabloid censure for shunning the funeral, and those jaunty “ALL your greys, Mum!” ads were running the whole time. That’s the trouble with authenticity — real life is messy, not always nice, and rarely conforms to the simple narratives that adverts demand.

So would we call both these campaigns spectacular failures on their own terms? Perhaps. But on my terms — the happy shallows where fact and fiction splash confusingly around together like dolphins — they’re to be treasured.

YouTube Watch: The career of Kerry Katona

Up until now, my YouTube Watches haven’t featured anything professionally filmed (clips from tv shows and the like), because I like to celebrate the glory of the amateur video (see my feature on Interpretative Dance, or the classic Dogs Eating Eggs). But I’m making an exception in this case, because Kerry’s career is gloriously amateur. And because these videos have all been making me laugh very much indeed.

Atomic Kitten – I Want Your Love on TOTP WITH Kerry Katona In my last post I was talking about how dazzling and precise Beyoncé and her team were in their Billboard awards performance. This is the hilarious opposite. The Kittens, fresh from the basket in an early outing, have been saddled with choreography that’s just too hard for them. They give it their best. But failure is an option. I watch this over and over again.

Atomic Kitten – Behind the scenes I want your love Yes, the same song again. But it’s the interview with the girls (who were big in Japan at the time) that I’m interested in, from about 1:15 onwards. A cock crows noisily and tunelessly. “Shuddup!” shouts Kerry, more grating than the bird. Does an unspoken thought pass between the other girls? “Do you want a record deal, love?” yells Liz in the direction of the coop. Perhaps this was the moment that Kerry’s card was marked.

kerry katona iceland out takes Which brings us to Kerry’s biggest success after leaving the band. And this is a very funny, very nicely put together behind-the-scenes montage. She seems to be happier doing these ads than at any other point in her career. There’s a filthy ad-lib about the delivery driver before the first minute’s up which I won’t spoil because it’s all in the, er, delivery. But oh to imagine these versions of the adverts hitting the airwaves.

Kerry Katona On This Morning, Old Clip If the last few videos have shown that Kerry’s someone who’s famous not for any particular talent, but just for being herself, then this is the most vivid stop on the terrible comedown. Imagine if you or I turned up to a job interview completely wrecked, made a pig’s ear of it and had to shamefully write off the whole experience. This is similar, because Kerry’s an ordinary person who makes stupid mistakes too, except that because she’s chosen to live her life in the public eye, she gets to fall apart on national tv. On this unforgettable occasion, she finds herself — rather gently and kindly —being asked by two of the country’s best-loved tv presenters to consider that she might have an alcohol problem. Awkward doesn’t cover it.

Dancing On Ice 2011 wk 6 – The Skate Off Well I know it’s fun to see her fail but fuck it, here’s a happy ending. Kerry considers her next career move while being thrown windmilling around an ice rink to the sound of Ethel Merman belting out “There’s No! People Like! Show! People! They Smile! When! They Are Low!… Let’s Go! On With The Show!” For some, it’s the only life they know.