Feature

Top 10 turkeys of 2016

Sprite's ad campaign revealed jaw-dropping misogyny and the use of appalling clich├ęs.

1. Sprite ‘#BrutallyRefreshing’

In a year when America appeared to endorse pussy-grabbing, opponents of political correctness could perhaps make an argument that the time has come to loosen up about crude humour in advertising. But the jaw-dropping misogyny in this homepage takeover of Joe.ie suggests that everyone involved forgot there might not only be women reading the site, but also men living in the 21st century. Even aside from the sexism, it commits one of advertising’s gravest offences: the use of appalling clichés.

Agency: Disowned by everyone

2. Debenhams ‘Found it 2016’ 

There are heavy-handed product shots and then there is this: an ad with virtually nothing else besides. With all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, Debenhams’ Christmas gifts are thrust in viewers’ faces, QVC-style, and brought inexplicably to life through thoroughly unlikeable voiceovers from celebrities including Jennifer Saunders, Ewan McGregor and Billie Piper. The coffee machine sounds like it has been inhabited by Gio Compario and the bra’s attempts to sound sultry just weird us out.

Agency: J Walter Thompson London

3. Ladbrokes ‘Edit my acca’

Chris Kamara, always good value for an unintentional laugh, has turned into some kind of Hans Christian Andersen shapeshifting fairy this year. First he boarded the Tube, dressed as an old man, to hand out football tickets for Carlsberg. And then he played a cafe full of people in this spot that’s reminiscent of the sequence in Being John Malkovich where the actor enters his own mind. The wiggling booty of the waitress he plays, however, recalls Moneysupermarket.com’s twerking suit Dave – but it’s less raucously funny, more strange and uncomfortable.

Agency: The Moment

4. Wrangler ‘More than a bum’

There’s nothing wrong with saying that women should be valued for more than their bums… unless you’re treating that as a radical idea, which seems to be the case in this massively ill-advised film. There’s something very Freudian about the fact that, in contrast to the message, it’s full of shots of bums and features an (admittedly catchy) tune in which the word "bum" is repeated endlessly. The conversation has moved on and this ad leaves Wrangler looking like a relic.

Agency: We Are Pi

5. Carling ‘The Guv’nor’

Paul Ince deserves respect for his achievements as a footballer and the contribution he has made in the quest for racial equality in the game – but Marlon Brando he ain’t. This parody of the iconic opening scene in The Godfather, promoting Carling’s TV giveaway, plays with that amusing notion briefly, but quickly descends into a baffling yawn-fest. It’s hard to blame Ince and co-star Jimmy Bullard for their acting, though, when they’re dealing with a script so lacking in logic or laughs.

Agency: Havas Sports & Entertainment Cake

6. Admiral ‘First day’

Many of us have one of those colleagues who insist on loving life, coming into work every day with a smile on their face and a spring in their step, and – worst of all – actually "putting the customer first" with no sense of irony. These people should not be indulged but instead encouraged to move to the fictional version of 1950s America where they belong. Consumers increasingly want authenticity from their brands and a recognisably human face. This takes things as far as possible in the other direction.

Agency: McCann Birmingham

7. Britain Stronger In Europe ‘VotIn’

Since we decided we would be leavin’ the European Union, Remain campaigners have been agonisin’ over how they got the pollin’ so wrong. Was the strategy of threatenin’ economic disaster a mistake? Or was it simply not understandin’ what was makin’ the people of Britain tick? Doubtless there were many factors contributin’ to the outcome, but this ad deserves special mention for failin’ in its attempt to speak to the yoof on "their level". Utterly patronisin’.

Agency: Venturethree

8. Cadbury Milk Tray ‘The return of the Milk Tray Man’

The return of the Milk Tray Man was a complete anti-climax. After the buzz surrounding the campaign’s long-awaited reboot and the search for a new face to play the title role, Cadbury hit us with a big cinematic production memorable only for a dismal performance from the man in black. Some things are best left in the past.

Agency: Fallon London

9. Air France ‘France is in the air’

"This is Lee. He’s satisfied" is how one of the five ads in this series opens. Smug, more like. Lee is, along with Louise and Charlotte, one of three impossibly good-looking, well-dressed and cheerful passengers who can’t get enough of the top-notch experience offered by Air France. They’re also refreshed, radiant, relaxed and delighted, apparently. The soundtrack of elegiac synth-pop gives the impression that this is some kind of futuristic dystopia in which our protagonists are shielded from the grim reality of air travel.

Agency: BETC Paris

10. ITV ‘Love daytime’

It’s possible that some people might like the idea of being stuck in a hot air balloon with Piers Morgan, Jeremy Kyle and the Loose Women, but we have BDSM clubs for that kind of thing. Please keep this dark vision of purgatory off daytime TV when kids might be watching.

Agency: ITV Creative

Annual 2016 edition

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