Tag Archives: advertising


“Nothing acts faster than Anadin, so all you guys must, from now on, take nothing.” Thus spoke my English teacher many, many years ago, setting me on my path to total and unforgiving cynicism, revealing to me for the first time that the English language and the penis mightier than the sword. Er, I mean, the pen is mightier than the sword.

I was looking at the Guardian website this morning and I noticed a position being advertised that I thought I’d take a closer look at. The first sentence, when clicking the link to apply, was:

“If you are registered, please log in and we will prefill this form for you.” Prefill? What? What on earth is a bloody prefill? A dentist rubbing his hands together with glee at the thought of a huge fee for inflicting as much pain on you as he can? A builder putting up a wall without mortar?

Continue reading Pre-drinks

Paper tower

Why are religious groups fine wasting paper on their shitty handouts? Save humanity, but fuck the planet. Why aren’t they more eco-friendly?

Let’s take the Watchtower as a jump off point. Admittedly, life would be better if the Watchtower were in fact at a jumping off point, such as Beachy Head. But this place is not for wish fulfilment, just the musings of an enraged mind.

At least once a week, I see the acolytes. At the bus stop, at the train station, on my doorstep. Soliciting our pagan souls with their suggestive pamphlets. Do you know what else I see? Their stupid Watchtowers scattered about the streets and pavements. What’s the fucking point? Every God damn week, the streets are littered with them. Surely those good Christian souls will clean up the mess? Of course they bloody well don’t. Fucking inglorious bastards!

Continue reading Paper tower

A hive of villainy

“I think you’ve been hacked,” comes the email from a friend. It’s a semi-regular occurrence these days, ever since my account genuinely was hacked some time ago. Except spammers didn’t leave a stream of crap in my sent mail; instead they lifted my address book, and every now and again somebody who’s bought the list afresh spoofs my identity and sends everyone I’ve ever corresponded with some dodgy link.

I hate it, but there’s nothing I can do.

Yesterday I got a text message from what claimed to be Buzzfeed. Except I don’t think Buzzfeed have changed business model from listicles of other people’s tweets to telling randomers about PPI claims. At some point, my phone number was sold to someone unscrupulous and now it’s clearly doing the rounds of people even more unscrupulous. I get these texts semi-regularly and I log every single one with the Information Commissioner’s Office because I’m a pedantic and vindictive bastard at times.

I hate it, but at least it’s one thing I can do.

One of the ways I pay my bills is as a comments moderator. You know, one of those poor sods who has to read everything poured out below the line. It is, shall we say, instructive. But all the racism, all the misogyny, all the homophobia doesn’t enrage me as much as one particular type of spamming.

I spend a few hours a week working on a site for people with health problems. It’s a support site for an illness. Some of the people on there are dying, or someone close to them is dying. Most of them are going through a terrible time. All of them are under pressure. So why wouldn’t you, as a spammer, join up simply to post advertising about buying fake documents, or drugs, or a new kitchen?

These people are the scum of the earth. And they are people: bots can’t post to this site. Somewhere, in a darkened basement in Indonesia or China, is a hive of villainy, deliberately interrupting a heart-rending discussion about pain or mortality or grief with links to online share dealers. Most heinous of all, if a user has ticked a certain box, it lands in their inbox as a notification of new site activity.

Actually, no. I’m being unfair. The people posting this stuff probably don’t realise what they’re doing. I can’t imagine they spend time trawling Google for online forums to disrupt. They probably can’t even read English well enough to understand what they’re trampling on.

It’s whoever’s paid them who are the real cunts. Somewhere, in a conservatory in Hampshire, is a businessman transferring funds for these darkest of arts, perhaps with a list of target sites. Or he knows that the spam sweatshop he’s paying has a list of regular targets. And he doesn’t care what they might be.

I was once so incensed that I checked up on one of the serial offenders. It all ties back to a legitimate business in the UK, but the owner is notoriously dodgy. I find it very hard to believe he doesn’t know what’s happening, particularly as this spam has been posted for over three years and I’ve found examples online of people having called up the company HQ to complain. The owner is attempting to make money off the back of vulnerable people. The owner is a waste of oxygen. Every now and again I Google him, hoping to read that a gangster rival has offed him in spectacular fashion.

I hate it, but it’s the one thing I can do.

Cashing out

Paul Kaye lives in the same part of London as I do. You’ll know him even if the name isn’t familiar – he was Dennis Pennis, that red-haired red-carpet terrorist who used dubious press privileges to ask Wolf from Gladiators if his Nobbies itched on set and whether Eamonn Holmes had ever shat on a glass table.

I see Paul at the tube station from time to time, on his way to film another intriguing character role in that niche he’s etched out for himself in shows such as Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and Humans. He plays long-faced, greasy-haired, gurning minor villains who inevitably get their comeuppance at some point. He plays them well.

It turns out these roles have been little more than prep work for his finest creation yet. I speak, of course, of ‘Morris’.

Continue reading Cashing out

We’re not interested in quality

I’m no media guru, but I think anyone with any semblance of sense would find it near-impossible not to agree that “We’re not interested in quality” is a fucking terrible line to start an advert with. Yet in another instance of someone okaying another farcical entry into the commercial world, like those “Ride me all day for £3” South Wales bus adverts held up by naked men and woman, we now know that Papa John’s couldn’t care less about the quality of their pizzas. Way to make a first impression, Papa.

It’s like if Pizza Hut started an advert saying: “Here at Pizza Hut, we don’t care about pizza.” Oh wait, they’re kind of already doing that by slowly changing their name to Pasta Hut. Conveying a healthy image is all fine and well, but nobody goes to Pizza Hut, or any pizza joint, to be healthy. You go because Nando’s was full a bunch of dickheads trying to have a ‘cheeky’ meal (whatever the hell that actually means), and you fancy something easy and greasy to eat, at a reasonable price. Maybe if they’re offering you free access to the salad bar you might pick up a slice of cucumber or two, or maybe not since you want to save room to gorge on the unlimited ice cream dispenser (hoping you can pull off not looking like a child catcher while in the queue for it). As consumers all we care about is the pizza. We want pizzas from pizza places. Some things are inherently simple, and this is one such thing.

And yet pizza advertising has something clearly wrong with it. The aforementioned Papa John’s line is a testament to how they’ve misjudged the majority of their audience. People need a fast hook, and if you start off by saying “We’re not interested in quality” – even if you follow it up with the ever-so-clever caveat of “we’re obsessed by it” – then people will move on quickly. Or, at the very least, that is the one line that will stick with people afterwards.

And while we all like food that actually tastes pretty good, who actually goes to a pizza chain expecting something supremely delicious? If you want proper pizza you go to a middle-class Italian restaurant (or maybe Pizza Express, which, though a tad pricey, is an exception to the rule of pizza restaurant quality). Otherwise you should be aware that you’re getting pre-prepared dough squeezed between the sticky hands of a university student trying to earn their way out of absolute debt. Competent as that student may be, you can only get a certain level of ‘delicious’ when you’re titting about with something a machine made earlier.

We eat it anyway though, because pizza is really tasty and easy to eat. Still, why they think they can sell a pizza for just short of of £20 remains a mystery. When you try to sell something people want a basic pleasure from, keep it simple, and keep it cheap – which is why a £5 pizza from a kebab shop never goes down poorly. It’s not pretending to be anything more than it is, and sometimes it can actually be pretty damn good.

Because kebab shop pizza makers aren’t too interested in quality or ‘delicious’, and instead are putting all their energy into getting you and your drunken stupor out of their face as quickly as possible. Sometimes all the advertising you need is a lit-up menu board with a crude and gratuitously glistening picture of unhealthy food, and the price. Media gurus, you might want to take note.

The full benefit of your insertion fee

It’s quite a tricky task, trying to convince people to write for this website. As much as the carefree, objectionable nature of the words you find here attract a certain type of people like organophosphates attract doomed bees, the delighted enthusiasm to contribute to this virtual free-for-all tends to wane at the sight of a blank Word document and an incessantly chirping smartphone promising all the world’s riches if you’ll only give it every last second of attention you have going spare. Oh look, someone’s added me to their circles, whatever the bloody hell that means.

So I’m always on the hunt for places I can entice writers to come and drop their filthy muck on the pages herein. One rather unexpected source of scribbling meat has until recently been classified ad site Gumtree, which it turns out is no longer the exclusive domain of Australians looking for cheap rooms in Notting Hill, bar work, second-hand didgeridoos and the like. Free ads in the ‘creative writing’ section used to do the job smartly, but then they shut that section down and began forcing people like me down the ‘jobs’ route, and charging a pretty packet for the privilege.

I decided to fork out for an ad. For posterity, as you will soon see, it read like this:

Gumtree used to let you put ads in their creative writing section for free, and now it costs £35.70. It’s your duty to reply to this ad because I’ve been mug enough to stump up the funds and if nobody replies I’ll have to drown a kitten to cheer myself up.

Right, to the point. I have a website that various people write entertaining, frequently angry articles on. There is a certain amount of serious swearing on said website so if you’re not keen on that I suggest you sling your hook.

The website is called…

Striving for Apathy

Google it. If I attach a URL Gumtree will charge me an extra £9.95. Amazing.

Anyway, I am forever looking for more writers for this site, ideally ones willing to spread the word via the social media sites you all love so much. The site carries no ads and makes no money, it’s for the love alone, or hate in this case. As a result I don’t generally pay writers but I will if a writer I find turns out to be particularly good at it (£15, for something that usually takes about half an hour or so – but you have to do the first one free so I can check quality, and there are no exceptions to that).

Did you read that previous paragraph? The first time I listed this advert I had about fifty replies demanding payment up front. If you can’t read I’m hardly going to pay you to write am I? This is Gumtree, not Mugtree.

Anger and passion is important, but entertaining (which usually means funny) is key. There aren’t many rules for writing for this site, you get to pick your own topic, and everyone who has so far enjoys it, so they tell me. You can find the guidelines on one of the pages of the menu on the site. I forget which, you have eyes, go look. To find out what I consider the site to be about, I am the writer ‘Chris’ on it, so read what that bellend wrote and you’ll get the idea.

Please reply. Ask as many questions as you like. As far as I know Gumtree don’t charge me to reply to questions but perhaps they do, so entertain yourself by forcing me to find out.

It says here I have 7,845 characters remaining in my ring-tearingly expensive advert. I feel like I ought to make use of them.

Can’t be arsed.

The ad was on the site for almost two months, until about a week ago, when I received an email with the following subject line: ‘Your Gumtree ad 1095453007 has been removed’.

It turns out that Gumtree are as keen to take a joke as riot police in May. Their decision has been taken because, as their email makes clear, they feel their policies have been so violated by my words there may have to be new legislation to take into account the feelings of a website with a quivering bottom lip.

Among my many misdemeanours, I have evidently used ‘discrimination terms, either offensively or generally’. Allow me to use a few more at this juncture, being as freedom of speech is prized in these parts.

Fuck you, Gumtree. You are a humourless shower of money-grabbing bastards for whom creaming funds from the UK’s legion of hard-working families, as hideous politicians will be calling us all for the next few weeks, seems to involve roughly a tenner’s development work biannually. Your website is a shit mixture of Amazon, Loot and Find A Grave. Your logo evokes images of a final sapling standing steadfast in the face of an onrushing nuclear explosion, just before it’s blown away in a cataclysm humanity is marching towards so inexorably it may actually explain why you’re all such stony-faced wankers.

Your support service is laughable, though I will say your copy-and-pasting is beyond compare. Your ‘policy removal appeal’ process appears to involve me asking why the ad was taken down and you replying with a succession of ‘because we said so’, ‘because we can’ and ‘because you’re picking on us’-style responses as the football disappears from the playing area beneath your arm.

On the off-chance you have any interest in making your website more interesting than a succession of ads for battered motors and soulless employment has any right to be, I should point out that virtually everyone who replied to the ad commented that they did so because it was the first they’d seen on Gumtree not written in a way that made them want to sear their eyes on a Bunsen burner in bored frustration. Not everyone bestows critical acclaim on the words ‘Please include your CV and covering letter’, not that it stopped countless people sending me their CV and covering letter in the mistaken belief I was another identikit employer offering the type of wrist-slitting work the rest of your job ads espouse in language that makes Atlas Shrugged read like a Mr Men book.

Needless to say Gumtree laughed when I mentioned the word ‘refund’: “You have already enjoyed the full benefit of your insertion fee.” Insertion certainly took place at some point in my dealings with them, though quite whether I or they ended up with the sorest arse remains unclear at this point.

Should anyone at Gumtree find themselves so astoundingly without mirth that they reach for their local defamation lawyer’s number on reading this, it might just bring about the final, exquisite death of irony. In short, Gumtree, I will not be using your service again. Consider yourself worse off to the tune of £35.70 a month. When the resulting penury causes you to let an employee go, I hope it’s the one who brings those biscuits in you all love as you gather around the crumb-infested filing cabinet at 10.30am on a Monday, each wishing you’d never applied to that Gumtree ad for a job working for fucking Gumtree.

This is particularly useful if your backyard is not fenced in

It’s hard to know why anyone bothers getting up when there’ll never be enough time to lick every ice cream in the world, or to right all the wrongs committed in those happy, heady years before guilt, or to sell enough shoddy products nobody needs to be able to buy that boat you’ll eventually fall off and drown next to.

But wait a minute: we can do little about ice cream and guilt but it turns out that last one, selling stuff, is easily rectified. This has been proven by whichever genius has created the machine that would fill the comments section under each post on this site with incomprehensible marketing-related shite, if only I’d forgotten to set it up so each comment needs approval.

Since yesterday morning I’ve had six emails from a robot, perhaps underlining Stephen Hawking’s ominous predictions of artificial intelligence destined to finish us all . The name supplied is different each time but they all come from the same website, which for the sake of argument we will call toboganium.com, because that’s what it is.

Leave some space between the various perennials you choose for more impact. Perhaps you want to do landscaping on the side and go full-time when you already have a steady list of clients. Large sized projects where a single person is working dedicatedly on single tasks.

Laudable advice, I’m sure you’ll agree, for anyone without prior experience interested in learning about landscaping from an arbitrary starting point via a series of sentences of increasing lunacy.

By following the LEED certification requirements, you are sure to make intelligent and sustainable building choices. Anytime you are considering changing your landscape, you must also think about the structures that already stand on your property. This is particularly useful if your backyard is not fenced in.

I read that last sentence in the pub and, perhaps because I’d been away from the internet for some hours, my mind delivered images to itself that the writer of the sentence most likely didn’t intend. Think ‘rosebud’, but do not think Orson Welles.

You should also keep in mind that a plant will have different branching structures throughout its growth. Easements are created when another property owner (or interested party) requires access to property that may only be accessed from the primary owner’s property. Any business you want to start needs to begin with a business plan.

This one purported to come from a woman named Deirdre Forest, a woman who should know a lot about branching structures and I don’t care if you didn’t laugh at that. Others in this remarkable collection came from: Mikki Frier (the Asian American character in a teen horror movie, the third to be killed, who takes her surname from the stepdad she hates); Carmela Kinchela (anyone with a rhyming name gets my landscaping vote); Bond villain Vickie Clore; Lamont Flannagan (the one having trouble with his/her backyard); and Stormy Freytag, the protaganist in the film that killed off poor Mikki Frier and her topless friends.

Leave some space between the various perennials you choose for more impact. Had you always been thinking to upgrade the pavers of the patio. Crushed and made into soft, tumbled stone, glass becomes a practical and visually appealing second-hand product.

Here we move into dreamscape territory. Glorious electricity snakes across the vivid heavens as the verdant moss creeps ever closer to the edge of my eternal essence. You want a landscaper to sort that out mate, and I know just the chap.

Landscaping includes not just the lawn, but the trees, shrubs, sprinklers, furniture and other features of your Omaha yard. Fix it: Keep up with routine maintenance and it won’t bury you when you are getting a house ready to sell. A landscape designer knows where to place the flowers for greater effect and what plants to seed.

To me, the word Omaha conjures up images of American soldiers being torn to pieces on a Normandy beach in scenes of sheer horror that remained quite unimaginable – until 2002, when a computer game called Medal of Honor allowed us to be the Nazis on the hill doing the tearing, thus transforming the terror into carefree fun. Never let it be said we’re doomed as a race.

Transition or sequence creates visual motion in landscape design. Fix it: Keep up with routine maintenance and it won’t bury you when you are getting a house ready to sell. My blogs cover many areas (niches) from sport related to health and financial areas.

Yes I just bet it does, Mr Toboganium, but your advice in the realm of landscaping is so astute I should stick with that if you’re keen to separate me from my hard earned. Toboganium is a fine name to have chosen, by the way. It conjures up two images for me. One is of an enormous warehouse selling every type of toboggan and sled imaginable to a populace who need reminding that snow is one of our planet’s finest gifts rather than a hateful substance Earth flings down to stop us getting to work. The second is of a flower going very, very fast.

I’ve no doubt these are the images you hoped I would dream up when you began sending me your marketing muck, because simply saying “Look, you have money, we want it, and here’s some shit we’re willing to part with to make that happen” is not exactly how 21st century marketing and advertising became 98% of all traffic online. Though the suicide rates of people involved in marketing and advertising deserve to be up there with bankers and golfers I sense they’re more likely to be tying up unspeakably lucrative deals than nooses as the western world gets ever more frivolous.

Not everyone will agree with that, of course. For some, marketing and advertising are the blood pumping through the arteries of a free economy, and without it all this would still be fields. They make a fine living from making a product seem invaluable to a customer, allowing a phone company to take a call to a credit card company who merrily acquiesce knowing that a bailiff is ready and raring to go when it turns out the product is as essential as a cow-tipping machine and the customer is a mug.

And to those, I say Toboganium. Right on cue, a new email has just arrived from our landscaping friends, this one from mysterious sari-wearing temptress India Gilreath:

The truth is that the job isn’t as predictable as it may sound. Perhaps you want to do landscaping on the side and go full-time when you already have a steady list of
clients. Consequently, individuals have two choices: They can bite the bullet and pay whatever it takes to get their front yard up to snuff, or they can see if they can do some or all of the work themselves.

Oh, fuck off.

The wide-eyed Tommy and the shared chocolate bar

As a man quite keen to distance himself from his own and anyone else’s emotions whenever possible, I’m not prone to tears. I might feel like wailing like a Muslim staring at a particularly egregious wall in Jerusalem at various points each day, but I’ve chosen a path of reason. Emotions are to rational thought as I hope these pellets will be to the bastard slugs that have taken to crawling through my flat every night.

Incidentally, it may be Jews who wail at the wall, but I’m yet to meet the person whose eyebrows don’t rise at the sight of the words ‘wailing like a Jew’, and in any case I don’t care.

Like all sane men, I will shed a happy tear at the end of The Shawshank Redemption. I also know of one song, and only one, that cuts me up just about every time I hear it, though I’ll never tell anyone what that song is lest they play it at me to render me useless. Other than that, though, very little provokes water works, unless I’m legless and have just realised once again how pointless I really am.

I was in the cinema yesterday to watch the remarkably over-rated Interstellar, but before we got to the point where Anne Hathaway starts shitting out words about how ‘love is the only thing stronger than gravity’ or whatever the hell she was on about, we had the trailers, and before that the adverts, including the ubiquitous Kevin Bacon monstrosity, but also including the Sainsbury’s Christmas advert, which up until then I’d not seen.

The First World War, just about anything to do with it, is the only other thing that has the power to make me weep like a girlfriend six months into a relationship with a man she now realises is not everything she once dreamed of, after he accidentally farted in the shower while she was shaving her legs nearby. Everything about that conflict is dreadful, and provokes anger and sorrow in me unlike anything else. Just thinking about the lines of men on both sides, pushed to their deaths by Melchett-style characters who never had to stare down a barrel themselves unless it was filled with brandy, makes my wish to avoid emotion where possibly crumble to dust.

That a supermarket has decided to use the Christmas truce of 1914 as the basis of an advert to sell Yule Logs comes as no surprise to me. That it’s Sainsbury’s, the supermarket that strikes me as the most decent available to those of us unable to afford Waitrose Tangy & Aromatic Lemon & Garlic Couscous, with two ampersands no less, is a bit more of a shock.

I get the point, with the wide-eyed Tommy and the shared chocolate bar, a man making his own little bit of peace with one German soldier. And if you’re going to do something like this, it’s as well to be on an important anniversary of the actual truce. But, my dear Lord Sainsbury, have you ever heard the expression ‘too soon’? Do you think, in this case, it may be a little too soon to use the horrific slaughter of millions of men in a sickening style of warfare to sell Taste the Difference Extra Thick Brandy Cream With Remy Martin at £2.65 a throw?

It’s too soon, Lord Sainsbury, it’s too fucking soon, because there will never be enough time passed between the First World War and now to justify using it to sell your Christmas shite to a public that’s going to buy it anyway. Nobody, not one single person, will decide to go into Sainsbury’s now because of the advert you’ve produced; nobody will find themselves thinking “I was going to pop into Morrison’s, because it’s near, but that Sainsbury’s advert has given me real food for thought. Their non-cynical use of surprisingly clean and chipper-looking Western Front troops to sell Sainsbury’s Mull Of Kintyre Extra Mature Cheddar has given me an overwhelming desire to drive the extra four miles to the nearest burnt orange supermarket to hand over more money than I can afford, because buying cheaper food and giving the savings to the British Legion just doesn’t seem like Christmas any more.”

It will always be too soon to use the First World War to further commercial gains in any way. Use the Second World War all you must, with the more obvious good versus evil and a set of heroes and villains who lend themselves particularly well to caricature. Save yourself some advertising spend by making next year’s ad from that bloody Downfall clip of Hitler raging, “How the hell have we let them be cheaper than us for a pack of baubles? How have we let their turkeys be so much more succulent than ours this year? Nein! Nein nein nein!”

Just leave the First World War alone. They weren’t romantic heroes, they were young men pushed unwillingly to their deaths at a rate of hundreds every minute. Those who survived refused to discuss it for very obvious reasons, not wishing to relive the utter horror of trench warfare for a single minute of their lives. And though they’ve all gone too now, it’s no excuse to start using them and their butchered mates to shift a few Luxury Fruit & Nut Christmas Puddings, 450g, serves 4.