Thursday, January 12, 2006


I like tv adverts. Of all kinds. I like comedy adverts, I like serious adverts. I have a special love for adverts for products marooned in their own advertising cliches. All 1990s British shampoo ads had a middle eight section of computer-animated molecules zooming into strands of hair, transforming them from sisal to glassy rope. And don't even get me started on the joy of facecream adverts! De-creasing! Contains Boswelox! Contains Biospheres! Contains Co-resistium!

Witty, kitsch, or embarrassing. Until last week, these were the unspoken categories of my advert watching.

But I have discovered another category! The evil advert! The advert that's so wholly, irredeemably, smugly and nastily horrible, and in so many ways it just freaks me the hell out.

New Range Rover Advert: Go Beyond

Speechlessly noxious.

I used to drive an old landrover once. It was very handy in the field. The muddy fields of sheep, and the muddy fields of falconry. A colleague and I drove it up to London once, parked it in Pimlico. There were other 4x4s in the street. But they were sleek, shiny, scary monster Range Rovers. And they didn't have half a roll of barbed wire and sheeplicks in the back, and neither (I assume) were they filled with the rich and penetrating smell of a very dead sheep that we'd hauled from the top field the previous day.

The hypocrises of 4X4 marketing, holds Robert Macfarlane, are dark, multiple and pernicious:
Everything about the product urges us to the wrong relationship with our environment. The vehicles themselves are the gargoyle of a rampant and acrid form of individualism: gated communities of one. They bespeak the urge to dominate and crush which is at the root of what Ivan Illich called "the 500-year war on sustainability". They expound a vision of an unspoiled and untroubled land, even as they market the tools of its further wreckage.
But it's not just nature they drive over! Look! It's so funny! Indigenous peoples slapstick! Laugh at the Inuit falling over! And drive on! Drive on!

I am going to post something POSITIVE later. I promise.

1 comment:

Heidi the Hick said...

Said my 9 yr old boy after watching the ad: That's mean.
Oh, the joy you have felt, parking your muddy truck, full of barbed wire and dead-smell, beside the shiny trucks who have no life. They must have been so jealous.