Ok so I’ve kind of nicked the title from Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe but with good reason, you see I seem to have spawned a child with the same sharp cynicism of Charlie, someone on whom advertising doesn’t work, someone who sees adverts for the big smelly pile of poo they really are; that someone is my son, Kiran and he is just six years old.
When Kiran’s television watching habits changed from the delightfully advert free Cbeebies to commercialtastic Cartoon Network I must say I was worried. I thought we would be entering the world of ‘I want that’ and ‘you should buy this’ but I was pleasantly surprised. Watching Kiran watch adverts is pretty special, he’s like a mixture of angry old man and Abraham Lincoln. He can only speak the truth and he will expose adverts for their lies and he does it beautifully.
Here are my three favourites:
Cillit Bang: The oh so familiar, yet equally obscure, LEGO haired grinning adbot takes to the screen clutching his purple bottle and exclaims: “I’m Barry Scott…” as he does so Kiran’s face contorts with injustice and he shouts at the telly… “NO YOU’RE NOT!” I don’t know how he knows this, maybe he can just spot a liar with the accuracy of a Jeremy Kyle lie detector but ‘Mr Scott’ watch out, Kiran has your number.
Vanish Gold: You wouldn’t think that children would have much interest in stain removal, they seem to be the ones making the mess, not cleaning it. And perhaps if they were to have any reaction you’d think it might be closer to thinking they witnessed sorcery. The advert in question shows Vanish Gold being applied to a host of stains and then put in water as a big gold clock counts down to the thirty seconds in which the advertiser claims they will have gone. And they probably have, I’m not going to dispute it’s efficacy but, er, Kiran does. See, when the clock hits thirty seconds the bits of cloth are still in the water and as it takes some time to take them out of the water Kiran cries fraud. “It’s longer than 30 seconds!” “They haven’t even gone!” “They said it takes 30 seconds but it’s longer and so I don’t even think it works, do you mummy?”. I couldn’t possibly comment.
Some irritating PPI ad: This is the simplest but possibly the best. You know how there is a glut of these generic adverts with generic men telling you the same thing about insurance that you probably didn’t buy. They’re annoying right? Kiran thinks so too. So a man comes onto the screen and announces “Don’t you know you might be entitled to PPI compensation? Not interested?” and Kiran shouts “No! I’m a kid!” He doesn’t understand why mummy starts giggling…
It’s not all angry cynicism though, there is the occasional advert that pierces even the most sceptical heart. We were out one day and Kiran starts to sing “Rice rice baby…Mmmm tasty!” he sings it repeatedly, I ask him to stop. “Why?” he asks “Because it’s annoying” I reply. “Nope. It’s funny.” Kiran states this like it’s absolute fact, “Dude, it’s a bear singing. What’s not funny about a bear singing?” I have no response, he’s stumped me and Muller Rice you should be proud, you got through to the harshest of critics…
Nicola Sheehan is author of Tiger Tiger