It’s completely understandable. We’ve all done it. You’re on a skiing holiday in the Rocky Mountains in the same area where they make Coors Light. You’re with a group of lads enjoying the last few years of their kidulthood. On a jaunt to the nearest pub you come to a fork in the snowy path. With the words of Robert Frost’s poem – The Road Not Taken – ringing in the group’s ears, you decide to have a race and split into two groups, each taking one path. Then you canter through the snow having hilarious craic, throwing snowballs to divert signs, flooding the path with water to create an ice-barrier, encountering a bear and finally you top it all off with a hair-raising slide down the mountain in a dugout canoe. All in an effort to get to the pub first.
There is a good-natured reunion in the bar as the canoeists arrive in, hours later having obviously been on even more adventures in the meantime. Adventures that they recount to pretty women who laugh indulgently as they think to themselves: They’re immature, but I can change that.
Who among us hasn’t had an afternoon like that? Well ME for starters. Who are all these people having amazing adventures on their way to the pub? Am I always taking the safer tine of the fork in the road and is there anyone else who secretly wishes that the Coors Light Bear at least made an attempt to maul the two latchicoes who had strayed onto his turf?
A sense of perspective is urgently needed here. It’s an ADVERT. It’s not supposed to be real but I can’t stop getting annoyed by it and I don’t know why. I should want to be up that mountain with the lads, being boisterous and suggesting even more outlandish japes in the race to the pub. Yet, when I think about it, it seems like an awful lot of effort and I don’t even know if I’ll get on with these guys. They probably all went to school together. They won’t listen to me. My suggestions will be too conservative for ‘legends’ like them. I feel excluded from their fun.
The ad is probably not aimed at me. My dugout canoe skiing days are over and when I watch the ad I think not about the fun being had on the way down, but how someone is going to fall and break their ankle on the way back up. Unlike the fella in the Heineken ad whose glass is swiped by the waiter before he has a chance to finish it, I don’t feel strongly enough to follow my pint onto a train to St. Petersburg because I know I’ll be frozen without my Big Coat. When I drink Lucozade I don’t feel inspired to start an impromptu music festival consisting of bands who play while skateboarding. I do sometimes drink it if I’m feeling a little peaky.
I seem to be immune to ads that imply that the product will make me more energetic or dynamic. When I shave, neither me or my wife spends ages stroking my face afterwards. There is no sexy pillow fight to celebrate the smoothness of the shave delivered by the razor’s fifteen microturbo-blades.
No matter how much Berocca I eat I will never race a train, blag my way into a dinner-dress event by stealing a waiter’s clothes or stand up with a good idea at a meeting.
The Safe Food warnings are more my style. I love to see scaremongers warming up their bellows. The ad shows a woman being a bad mother and poisoning her daughter while placing an eerie glow on the child’s cheeks. But this inspires a different reaction – particularly the voice over on the radio version “Your knife, your cup, your saucepan, your plate, your hands, youuuuurrr child”. I want to shout MY ARSE! I’ll take my chances with spongiform stapphyllococcuss clostridia hefalumpum bacteria purely because I don’t want to do what the woman tells me. And anyway Safe Food is an EU initiative so I’m not cleaning any raw chicken off any knives until we get some sort of decent deal on the Promissory Notes.
I’m watching telly now and an ad for mortgages comes on. At last, this is one that should suit me down to the ground. When you’ve bought a mortgage as ill-timed as mine, you become obsessed with the financial instrument whose translation is ‘death contract’. But no, they can’t just advertise in a straight forward way. A man – a lecturer in Finance of some sort, it appears – is in a long classroom squinting at a blackboard which has a lot of complicated formulas on it. Then he sees a newspaper showing in very large print, the bank’s competitive new rates. He chirrups to himself triumphantly (okay maybe I’ve added a chirrup) and walks out of the room clutching the newspaper as if that’s solved all the conundrums written in small print on the blackboard in one fell swoop.
The FOOL! He’s ignoring the small print that has all the maths in it and just falling for the ad. That’s how we got into our current national financial mess in the first place!
I guess I’m just immune to all ads, or maybe I could do with a pint. For some unknown reason, two particular brands spring to mind.