Category Archives: Christmas

Watch Out, We’re About To Open This Pit Up. Virally!

In the space of less than thirteen hours, I’ve seen an internet video hit way over 200,000 views worldwide. Granted, I may have watched it at least 20 of those times, but the first time I did, it was rocking a measly 500 or so likes, and a good 40 or so dislikes. What happened in that space of time? Well, the internet silly! The internet happened! The video in question? This blinding piece of musical mimicry.

It’s quite a niche video if you think about it. How many of you actually listen to hardcore? Probably a lot of you if you’ve appeared from my twitter/facebook feed, but if someone happens to stumble on this who isn’t into “the scene” so to speak, why on earth would you have clicked that link? You wouldn’t, and I don’t blame you. This is a clip that’s gone viral, in the most utterly perfect way. Music message boards will have helped, websites like punktastic.com and the b9 message board will have had first dibs, but after that it was passed on to like minded music fans, with friends lists bigger than their ego.

It was a marvellous thing! I’ve never actually seen a video go viral in real time. It was insane how quickly the video flew through social web space. In my Facebook timeline alone it had been linked three times before I woke up. When I checked at lunch it had be linked eight times (including yours truely), and now I’m sitting at seventeen posts about the damn thing, each with at least three different interactions on the video. I suppose the ideal that when you tell a friend, they’ll tell two friends, who’ll tell four friends, ad infinitum actually rings true. How far can this video honestly go? Are we talking Rebecca Black ‘Friday’ size, as that’s obviously the dream in every amateur video maker’s eyes.

Here’s where we run into a problem; Is the video too niche? Will people out of “the scene” get it. I mean, I don’t really understand two-stepping, but I’ve been to enough hardcore shows to know not to be in the way of someone flailing their arms around like a windmill, and I’ve been to enough shows to get out of the way when someone asks to “open a pit up”. Protip; aim your stage dives away from the mosh pit. Landing face first isn’t ideal.

Another thought I had while I watched the likes/dislikes for the video spiral well and truely out of control, is how jealous I actually was. This thing was a stroke of creative genius, and I had no part in it. All the video is, is a small child being part and parcel of a joke she obviously doesn’t understand yet. Of course, I’ll eat my words if she’s Ceremony’s biggest fan, and has a Cro-Mags tattoo, but I think the idea behind the video lies with the parents. I have a friend who’s madly into pop-punk with a young daughter. Surely she could do the same thing with a couple of chords, well placed ‘woo’s, and the odd finger point or two? Sure, but would it hit the right timing. Is going viral all about being at the right place at the right time?

What if the video was two weeks later? Or even as close as this evening rather than this morning? What would have happened if the video was uploaded after the news that megaupload had been canned. Would it still get the same response? Twitter set on fire with news and updates about MU being pulled, but that’s only to be expected with yesterday’s rally against SOPA and PIPA. Have internet punters spent all their energy setting fire to torches and sharpening their pitchforks to repost a video about a young girl’s love for her dog and fish? Who knows!

Back to my original point of jealousy. If these folks can go viral, why can’t I? It can’t be that hard right? Famous last words if I’ve ever heard some. While I work out how to make myself go viral either by breaking a leg, writing a funny song, or just video taping the shit out of a cat, here’s a video of some of my friends doing something awesome which definitely should be as big as Rebecca bloody Black. The acting is almost as bad too.

Ah, heart attack enducing Christmas shenanigans. Lovely.

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The Christmas Advert Calendar Door Seven – Movielicious

Now for something that hints at ‘festive’, but is actually rather bloody clever.

Wasn’t that just wonderful? Yes, I know, the idea of manipulating old movie footage and using to CGI to add actors, or change the way the footage rolls out is nothing new, but it’s always something that manages to enthral me, and rightly so! It’s a great use of modern technology to surprise a viewer. You should all remember this one;

Probably one of the best ads of the past twenty years, helped by the blistering soundtrack from Mint Royale. When it first aired there was absolute pandemonium about the spot, about how some people thought it was brilliant, and others a disservice to Mr.Kelly himself. Either way I thought it was incredible!

I think it’s the creative idea behind the advert, rather than the advert’s narrative that makes me like it so much. Sure, it’s not really the most festive advert out there, but it’s one of the only ads this Christmas that has managed to make me actively search it out to see the damn thing again. Just think about all of the other stories and narratives our unfortunate ‘man rushing home for Christmas’ could be in. Of course, they’d have to be showing on Sky Movies, but think of the possibilities! ENDLESS. I haven’t really got much to add, I just want people to watch the spot. I like it, and you should too.

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The Christmas Advert Calendar Door Six – You Bloody Geoffrey

Christmas. That means presents right? Well, who like presents the most? Kids. And what do kids like? Toys. If you were going to buy a child a present, what would you buy it? A toy. Are you keeping up? Good. So, if kids like toys, and kids like presents the most, and what kids want for a present is a toy, then surely the retail world would capitalise on this demand and create some sort of ‘toy warehouse’? That would be the most sane approach surely… Oh.

Yes! Of course I’m talking about Toys ‘R’ Us. The mecca of children country wide. A magical place, with toys in their millions, all under one roof! At least that’s how it used to be;

Man, remember that time, before the internet, when you had to go to shops to buy toys and other things like music, and videos, and computer games? A time where you couldn’t read user-reviews, or parents reviews on how naff/shit/super-awesome a toy is, or better yet, watch an instructional video on “how to get the best from your nerf gun” youtube? Yeah, me too. I liked that time. In fact, it was one of my favourite times.

You see, my Nan used to live in Cardiff, and Cardiff had an absolutely massive Toys R Us, smack bang in the middle of the city. Whenever my nan would give me some “pocket” money, I’d immediately cash that cheque at the bank of mum, and whinge until I got to go to the warehouse of ‘Shit I’ve never wanted before, until I see it on the shelf’. It was amazing! The shelves were stacked taller than my Dad, and he’s like 5″7! To a seven year old, that makes him an actual giant. I’d make sure that we went down every isle, and I’d make a short list of my “best toys” so I could then spend half an hour deliberating whether to get the green ranger, or the red ranger. Pro-Tip; Always the green ranger. Tommy was bad-fucking-ass.

I actually still have some of the toys I bought from there, my favourite being a miniature WWF wrestling ring, with 6 characters, and various extra bits and bobs. It was a brilliant collection; Undertaker, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mankind, Kane, and Al Snow (That time in 1999 when he broke into the mid-card, remember? Didn’t think so). I spent the four hour train journey on the way home playing wrestling, and doing insane over the top moves, like a Rock Bottom from the top of a window ledge, right to the arm of the chair. Amazingly, HHH actually managed to kick out of that one!

Sorry, I digressed a little there. Basically, Toys R Us has a good place in my childhood memories, and with that, goes the original advert that I can quote almost word for word. It’s a pity then, that instead of just re-airing that lovely little animated sing-along, they come up with a spot about being a Toys R Us kid, and how I’m going to flip my lid, and all of those other really bad rhymes that end in ‘id’. It’s shiite. Look at it!

Jingles are old news folks, why even try? How is that making you relevant? Surely with internet shopping being so easy, the creatives should be focussing on that nostalgic hold that Toys R Us had on the children of the 80s and 90s (who have probably grown up and had their own children), rather than trying to associate themselves with the 9 year old gun-runners who stab and rape in their free time? I read that in the Daily Mail somewhere don’t you know.

Oh! Boy! The ad is all a bit rubbs really. I’m loving the addition of star wars Lego, but the oversized Barbie dolls remind me of those sex toys that creepy old men pay thousands of dollars for. What else is there? The jingle is rubbish, the animation isn’t exactly brilliant, and seeing as I’m always going to hold a special place in my heart for Geoffrey, it’s done nothing to nestle in with that slice of nostalgic pie I’ve obviously eaten. It’s a shame really.

When I’ve got a child, I’m going to take it around places like Toys R Us, and let him/her also choose one toy to play with for six months. Don’t get me wrong, it’s got nothing to do with the advertising, or because I particularly like Toys R Us, but more because it’s one of life’s lessons a child must learn. Managing to weigh the pros and cons of a power ranger versus a box of Lego made me the man I am today. Brilliant.

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The Christmas Advert Calendar Door Five – From Me To Me, Via Me.

The first of my triple door opening, is about the best fast food burger joint in the UK. Burger King. As you may or may not know, I’ve written about Burger King before a few times; Here’s one entry, and here’s another!

Basically, their advertising is very hit or miss, unless you live in the good ol’ USofA, in which case it’s amazing. Their UK based adverts have been standard fast-foody type spots with someone eating a burger, and jumping out of a window. I never really got it. But, with the greatest of holiday seasons, comes a lovely, and rather funny little 20 second number.

Simple. Effective. Humorous.

I know I’m not alone when I say this, but I always buy gifts for me, from me. Desperate it may be, but I sure as hell know I’m going to like what I get, and this guy loves his brand spanking new Steakhouse Angus. I’d prefer it to be an XL Bacon Double Cheeseburger, but hey, I’m not buying a gift for the guy. He is!

It’s a nice little script, with only a small snag in timings during the middle, but the long shot at the end and the hyperactive yelp utterly makes this advert. It’s a perfect ending. I think the only way it could have worked better is if he looked a little bit embarrassed when the other customers turned around, rather than joyful, but his facial expression is priceless.

The ad isn’t amazing, it’s nothing incredibly new, it sure as hell isn’t original, but it made me smile and giggle, and that in itself is worthy of a mention. I just wish I wasn’t jonesing for a burger right now.

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The Christmas Advert Calendar Door Four – Merry Pissedmas

Christmas ads are usually all about the hard sell. Other times the creatives get clever, veer the opposite way, and pretend to produce something inspiring, working way too hard to beat their previous outstanding efforts. Cough *John lewis* cough. But Every now and again, there’s a something I see that just makes me stop what I’m doing, smile, and feel warm inside. It doesn’t happen often, but I like it when it does.

All together now; “Aaawwwww”. What an enchanting way to say Happy Christmas to your customers!

It’s not often a viewer comes away from a liqueur/spirit advertisement feeling the warm and fuzzies and thinking of family, but this Jack Daniels spot seems to accomplish just that. There’s nothing hard-sell about it, there’s no dubious ‘lifestyle’ choices to be made, and most importantly, there’s no celebrity guest star. The advert appears to be straight out of the ‘how to make a Christmas ad 101’ book. It’s, well, warm and fuzzy!

Granted it’s nothing spectacular, over the top, or flashy, and yes, building a Christmas Tree out of Whiskey Casks is surely going to end in tears, vomit, broken bones and at least two fires ala the ending of ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’, but the idea is strong, and that makes the advert incredibly enjoyable to watch. The soundtrack pulls at the right kind of heart strings, and the imagery is just what you’d expect from a Christmassy “community coming together” kind of advert, but the bit that makes me so impressed, is that the company behind the idea sells a product that makes most people turn into absolute pricks when they drink it. Myself included.

After the bitterness thrown at my keyboard during the Littlewoods write up, I’m nicely surprised that Jack Daniels has managed to cool my nerves through the medium of television advertising, and again get me excited to see my family, friends, and cat when I get to go home for Christmas. I won’t touch the stuff over the holiday period for fear of starting a fight with a condom machine again, but I’ll definitely tip my paper hat to the creatives and agency behind this little wonder. They did good Jack. They did good.

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The Advert Calendar Door Three – Who Kills Childrens Innocence Far And Wide? Mum Does!

Well, I’m already one behind. What a surprise! It’s okay though, as with every advent calendar, there will always be that day when you end up opening at least three doors in one go, because you’re so excited to look at some belting pictures.

Any way, enough of that, let’s get on with another advert. There’s not much of an introduction today, because the advert speaks for itself. I’ll give you a heads up though; I think it’s crap.

Oh look, it’s a school play. Someone pass me the sick bucket. Oh look, they’re singing, about their Mothers, I think I’m going to need a second bucket. An ‘urban’ music section as well? Jesus, why can’t I hold all of these buckets!? Wait, hang on, what the hell does a Spider have to do with Christmas? And a Viking Fairy? And bad rap music? I know I’m not exactly Mr.Christmas, but can we at least get a shepherd, or the three wise men, or at most a bloody reindeer?! It doesn’t have to be Jesus, ’cause you know, no one wants to get offended at CHRIST-MASS, but come on. A spider? Really? Did he fall off the tree?

Another thing. What ever happened to kids being shit at Christmas plays and talking one sy, la, bul, at, a, time, be, cause, they, are, on, ly, chil, dren, and, they, don’t, know, any, bett, er? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to go? I was in a school play once. I played the ‘Artiban’, the fourth wise man. Yep, the fourth one. He was a bit of a tosser really, and couldn’t get any where on time. I think he ended up finally meeting Jesus at the crucifixion, a bit late if you ask me, but my point lies in the fact that when I took part in the play, I forgot my lines at least three times, and I’m pretty sure if I would have been a nervous child, I would have wet myself, vomited, or worse. There’s no way in buggery I could have break danced, or rapped, but maybe I’m just not as cool as children are these days.

My final point is one that seems to be in hot debate; These children in the advert must be about five / six years old, so it pains me to see them telling me that Father Christmas doesn’t exist, and that their mums buy all of their Christmas presents? Do you think they knew what they were saying, or was it just that their parents patted them on the back and told them it was all a big fat lie to get a big fat pay cheque. Talk about the destruction of innocence. Timmy the spider is already getting an Xbox with Kinect that he’s blatantly going to use as a murder-rape simulator, and Bobby’s gone and got a robot with swords for arms. Now you’re telling me that they also know that Father Christmas doesn’t exist? What next? Force feeding them rabbit and telling them that they’re ruining Easter? Kids already grow up to fast, so why not let them believe in a big fat guy in red gives them presents? Oh, because in the year 2011, that would make Father Christmas a paedo.

After last years outing starring Coleen Rooney, which I quite enjoyed, I really think Littlewoods as one of the ‘big’ Christmas stores, should have pulled something better out from beneath the tree. The only thing that’s different about it, is that they destroy the idea of jolly old Santa! That’s hardly in the Christmas spirit now is it?! The advert is unoriginal, executed poorly, and acted by a load of innocence-ruined children, and self aggrandising pricks in the audience. To all the people involved, I hope Father Christmas shits in your stockings. Happy fucking Holidays.

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The Advert Calendar Door Two – Haunt This You Crazy Bint

As you may or may not know, I don’t like little girl ghosts. They terrify me, and quite rightly so! Who actually thinks “Yeah, getting haunted by an undead young girl whose hair needs a brush, and dress needs a bit of a wash is loads of fun”. No one. Well, I at least hope it’s a minority.

Sorry, I appear to be mid-digress, but there is a valid reason for me bringing up the God forsaken spawn of many a sleepless night, and that reason, funnily enough, is a Christmas advert. Sort of. They’ve added tinsel for the festive season. It counts.

Festive!

I think what irks me most is the fact that I actually got scared. What starts off as a seemingly normal advert suddenly changes tune quite quickly! That first ghostly fade in at about six seconds scared the piss out of me the first time I saw it, but unfortunately, that was it. It’s a pity that after that first moment of shock, the continuing footage falls into the overly-generic, rather than the overly-frightening. If anything, it becomes a genre piece. A ‘how-to’ on little girl ghosts; the spooky reflection, the fumble with the keys, the sudden appearance, and the ‘spooky’ voice. I do come from a film background though, so it’s not really fair asking me to delve into the shock factor of the advert. Let’s go some where else for that.

Somewhere like, I don’t know, The Daily Mail website.

A creepy advert for mobile phone giant Phones4u is being investigated by advertising watchdogs after a flood of complaints.

The ad which features the ghost of a young girl haunting a woman in an underground car park has been branded too scary for children.

The Advertising Standards Authority last night confirmed it has received 341 complaints about the advert – the highest number this year.

Shit the bed! 341 complaints!? That’s like, 341,000,000 complaints! Is there really something that wrong with this advert? The showing time has to be past watershed, and if that’s the case, why is there such a problem with it? It’s obviously scary, hence the late airing time, so why are people getting into a flap about it? Do people really hate little girl ghosts that much? Let’s have a look;

One commented: ‘I have to change the channel every time this comes on. When my 5 year old brother saw this for the first time he got so scared he bashed his head and didn’t stop crying? all night.

‘THIS IS A HEALTH HAZARD. TAKE IT OFF TV.’

Another added: ‘The first time i saw it on telly, it scared the living daylights outta me.

‘Seriously if they think that’s gonna attract customers then they got another thing coming lost another customer!’

I’ll field these one by one.
A) Why on earth is your five year old child watching TV past 9pm? Be a better parent.
B) Don’t be such a wetbag.
C) Yes, it scared me too.
D) Well, I don’t need a D, because my B was so great you bloody wetbag.

Basically I think the gist is, it scared people, so it must be evil;

Down With This Sort Of Thing.

There’s genuinely something wrong with people if they think that advert needs to be banned, but I suppose haters have always gotta hate, and the Daily Mail readers have certainly ‘gotta hate’ a lot.

All in all, it’s a good advert. It’s not great by any means, but it’s definitely not bad. It’s hardly festive, but it’s something different; a step in a new direction for a phone company! Well done Phones 4u! It takes a lot of faith to take such a risk like this in the peak trading season, and it’s something that needs to be applauded. Sure, it’s scary as shit the first time you see it, but you’ll be fine the second time. Well, maybe the fifth time.

In a season that will see tinsel, carols, party food and ‘buy buy buy’ messages falling out of every orifice, a good little scare never hurt anyone. Unless you’re a five year old, in which case, don’t headbutt something straight after you see it, as you might get into the newspaper. While it’s probably the least festive advert I’ll be looking at this December, I have a feeling it might be one of the stand out ads of my calendar. Variety is the spice of life, even if it’s making potential consumers piss their Christmas coloured onesies.

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The Advert Calendar Door One – Holidays Are Coming

Christmas is finally upon us. Well, I say “upon us”, but in reality, it’s been upon us for about two months if you go by what the shops are trying to tell us through their visual merchandising. Today however, on the 1st December, it’s actually here! Like right now, this second! It dawned on me today when I watched one of my employees open a door from our Christmas Advent Calendar incentive, something brought in to further push Christmas sales in reward for a possible £25 gift voucher, and the immediate satisfaction of gobbling a suspiciously shaped Spongebob Square Pants chocolate, that Christmas is most definitely here. For some reason though, it just doesn’t feel the same as it used to. Sure, I’m 24 going on 25, but I’m still a sucker for Christmas, so why on earth does it feel different? What’s going on? What’s wrong with me?!

I racked my brain for at least a minute, heck, maybe even two minutes, and that’s when I came to this conclusion; It’s not Christmas yet as I haven’t seen that advert. Oh, you all know the one that I’m going to mention. You all know exactly which one I’m talking about. I will wager that almost all of you know the sodding lyrics to the jingle as well, and also that at least 50% of you will feel the same way; It’s not Christmas, until you see the Coca Cola trucks.

There we go. Everything will be okay.

It’s strange that I’m conditioned to finally think “Shit, it’s Christmas” when I see those stupid trucks and hear that damn song, but I suppose that’s just a mixture of some damn good marketing, and a healthy pinch of nostalgia. You see, when I was younger, I watched a lot of television as I didn’t have the internet, or a smart phone, or seventeen different ways to play a video game in my house, so around Christmas time, I was a sucker for sitting in front of the gas fire, and watching some cracking Christmas T.V

Apart from me screaming “I want that” at every toy on T.V for the fun factor alone, I never really took on board adverts. I didn’t cry about what food I ate, or what drinks I drank, and that’s obviously a healthy nod to my parents. However, the picturesque scenes taken from this advert obviously triggered the correct response in my tiny little brain. I mean, I absolutely love Christmas. I always have! Everything about it is perfect, so pumping everything I love about a season into an advert, is a sure fire way to make me remember it. I’ve always been a ‘cold weather’ kind of guy, so snow, lights, and a chill in the air made me happy. The heartfelt singing from the advert and the overuse of the colour red (Father Christmas silly) obviously resonated well with little me, and stuck with me for years.

Stuck with me in fact, to the point that I can’t begin to get excited about my favourite holiday season of the year without humming along to that bloody advert. I’ve known people who have turned over before the jingle kicks in because they’re not “ready” for it to be Christmas yet, but we’re all in the same boat. It’s okay. I realise how pathetic that may seem to those with nothing but coal for a heart, and yes, sometimes I hate myself, but then I think that I should maybe hate advertising more… Nope, definitely myself.

Ah well, with that out of the way I’m going to spend the next 24 days looking at my Christmas Advert Calendar (Get it? Advert Calendar. AdVERT Calendar! I know right?! Genius.), opening one door at a time, and giving you my honest thoughts and opinions on what the industry is trying to sell us this year, but more importantly, how they’re trying to sell it. Look forward to the obvious, and hopefully, a smidgeon of the obscure too.

For tonight however, I’ll settle with watching the trucks again, because if you haven’t already gathered, in the immortal words of Noddy Holder; “It’s Christmas“. Literally.

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