July 6, 2012

Oh dear, oh dear, oh very dear! The farrago that is GoCompare’s advertising this week went – not so much from bad to worse (their ads have been voted the UK’s most annoying two years running) – as from worst to whichever off-scale realm comes after that.

With what they probably imagine is knowing postmodern irony, the Cardiff-based comparisoneers are attempting to have their cake (by retaining the woeful Gio Compario character they’ve made infamous with all their marketing millions) and eat it too (by getting onside with the 99.9% of Britons who find the cod Italian tenor completely insufferable).

A teaser campaign began with billboard ads designed to appear defaced by Compario-haters armed with ladders, giant spray cans and hilariously witty substitutes for the crossed out word compare – such as “away” (which at least has the virtue of brevity) ”get a new job” (potentially insensitive in the current economic climate), “jump off a cliff” (a dangerously irresponsible incitement to suicide – according, quite genuinely, to charity Samaritans) and the particularly limp “and take some singing lessons”.

Amongst all the many criticisms that might justly be levelled at Signor Compario, a lack of technical proficiency in the art of singing must surely be one of the very least promising lines of attack. Was this a sneaky attempt to bless Mr C with weak condemnation – or just piss poor copywriting?

Next came attempts to interest the nation in watching the new GoCompare or, as we should probably now say, the new GoAway ads half-way through Coronation Street. Then came the bombshell of the ad itself. As an unaccompanied Compario sings to a dispirited but puzzlingly immobile couple outside their drab suburban dwelling, we see a balaclava clad figure take aim at him with some form of RPG/bazooka device and duly pull the trigger. We next see a deep smoking crater where GC once stood with the dazed couple still motionless alongside, no blood yet trickling from their eyes and ears.

Back in the deserted warehouse from which our nut-with-sledgehammer style assassin took aim, the balaclava is removed (thus somewhat negating its identity-disguising usefulness post-hit) to reveal for no obvious reason TV celebrity and former sportsperson Sue Barker looking distinctly rougher than she does at Wimbledon and punching the air in savage homicidal delight.

How could this fail to delight an entire nation? Was TV celebrity and former sportsperson Gary “black box” Lineker not clutched with delight to the bosom of a greatly amused nation when he turned evil in those Walker’s crisps ads? Did everyone not chuckle a great deal when Herbert Lom kept trying to kill Peter Sellers in those Clouseau films they’ve forgotten how to make?

Much as everyone dislikes the opera-singing avatar, however, it seems that Britons are less keen than GoAway’s new ad agency appear to have supposed on masked terrorists blowing people up. Perhaps it’s not so much a case of the nation wanting Compario hurt or killed, more of being sick of watching annoying ads for insurance comparison sites. Perhaps it’s not possible, after all, for GoAway to sit down with Joe Public on his living room settee, cat call at the TV, and declare “yeah, mate, I can’t stand him either – but what about that cheap insurance, eh?”

As Mrs Bankstone News observed this very morning, it’s a pretty sad indictment of the society we inhabit if artless derision, spiteful mobbery, attempted murder and faux graffiti can be mistaken for its common cultural currency.

The ad ends with GC crawling from the crater miraculously intact. So they can kill him again and again – and that’s the next two years’ ads sorted!

Bankstone News will be returning to its traditional role of poacher next week – or possibly rather sooner in fact.


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