Things I hate: footballers. Football supporters. Karaoke. The word podcast. Country-and-western music. Things I've been asked to review this week: the Adidas football commercials. Sure's "go wild" ad. PlayStation's karaoke game. Radio 1's Musicubes online service. The new Halifax TV commercial (yes, the one sung to the tune of Rhinestone Cowboy). Jesus H Christ and a box of matches.
Let's start at the end. The living end that is Halifax (2). Chaps. Chaps.
Chaps. I thought cowboys had moved on a bit. OK, it's camp. But where's the fire? Are we not post-Brokeback? It's as if Devil Woman had never been written. Surely this is a missed opportunity. Hang yer 7 per cent savings account from the nearest tree, I say. Let's flog some same-sex shared mortgages. Let's see Halifax Howard doing some manly spooning behind Belfast Barry and promising commitment for the lifetime of the loan providing he keeps his deposits regular, dumps the mousy missus and moves into a bedsit in Birmingham.
There's a fistful of comedic opportunities in them thar hills. Ah well. Maybe next decade ...
Adidas (5). This is not just football. This is the Nike/Pepsi-inspired descent of football into selfish, individualistic, stoopid, goofy Harlem Globetrotterish showboating. These are not just grotesquely overpaid, preening, cheating, inarticulate no-marks. On the global menu of sport, these are the minted vegetables. Can we have our game back please, mister?
Try as I might, I cannot fathom the inexorable rise of karaoke as a social activity. From where I stand (which is as far away from the mic as possible), it's the musical equivalent of enjoying your own farts. In public. Have they no shame?
And now, via the might of the global beast that is PlayStation (6) and its all-new SingStar karaoke game, this baffling (pre)occupation reaches never-before imagined heights as a pair of ugly, overweight scruff-bags invoke ghosts of the world's greatest band by performing live-ish on a rooftop somewhere abroad. As cultural gestures go, this is Gulliver farting in Lilliput. As ads go, it's beautifully shot and performed with genuine gusto. Just don't even think of handing me the mic.
Apparently, if you're really, really good at say, rowing, and you have a crafty swig of Lucozade Sport (3) between strokes, you'll be even better. No, really. Someone call Redgrave, quick.
Is it just me, or are the times not so much a-changin' as a-phasin'?
Dixons phased out VHS players. Then 35mm cameras. Then 35mm film. Then non-flat-screen TV sets. Then Currys phased out Dixons, in much the same way as Thames Water is currently phasing out water. (Hey, who needs it?)
Throughout it all, I have told myself to be strong. Go with it. Embrace. Is it my fault that I tend to embrace technology with all the lightness of touch of Mike Tyson at a beauty pageant?
So it was with heavy heart and gormless ineptitude that I "visited" the BBC Radio 1 (4) Musicubes site and set about building my very own musical Tower of Babel, 10 per cent at a time. A little R&B here, a slice of gospel there, when suddenly: "YOU DO NOT HAVE THE REALPLAYER PLUGIN INSTALLED." Lights went out. Walls came tumbling down. And I decided to phase out the whole bloody idea and go sit on my lawn while it's still green.
A mate of mine art directed the new Sure (1) commercial. Not only is he a pal, but he also happens to be the hardest man in Europe. Nay, the world. One word out of place here and I could end up wearing my own arse as a one-eyed balaclava for the foreseeable future, mates or no mates.
Luckily, I happen to wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment expressed within said commercial: football supporters are animals and they smell. Aerosols to them.
JOURNALIST - James Brown, journalist and TV presenter
To me, the best ads are those that get you to buy something, remember the product or at least entertain you. Then you get the ones, like the PlayStation (6) SingStar thing, where you hope the fat bloke and his mate who have carried a TV and a karaoke game on to the roof of a local supermarket to sing Blur's Song 2, take one big jump too many and fall through the roof. Mock realism, a Two Pints of Lager and A Packet of Crisps take on U2's roof-top gig.
Attempts to recreate the informality of the Carling skins and shirts ad for music, but it's just two fat blokes shouting on a roof. If I want that, I'll go next door and look at the builders. Still, the product stays with me, so maybe that works.
Halifax (2). A super-kitsch play that sees a building society desk jockey from Belfast wandering round the Nevada desert in a Blazing Saddles-style scene promoting competitive interest rates by singing Rhinestone Cowboy. The jokes are thin, the idea is weak and all that banking information being slipped in on branding irons and signposts just made me cringe. I preferred the guy in the glasses in the Bugsy Malone Halifax ad - they should go back and make him the new Howard.
They say there's a fine line between winning and losing, but not as fine as the line between this Lucozade Sport (3) ad and a deodorant one. Thirty years ago, there was a basic message with the mum giving the poorly kid Lucozade in bed: this will make you feel better, even if the tin foil at the top of the bottle's a bit sticky and it tastes weird. It didn't offer to make the crippled walk or anything, but that's what this is doing.
It suggests if you drink Lucozade it might make you a winner, which is bollocks. It even puts up a disclaimer saying "enhances performance of top athletes" or something, which, by implication, says: "But not you." Never trust an ad with small print.
Adidas (5). Call me a predictable simpleton, but I'm smiling as soon as you see the two boys picking sides. You know what's coming next: a load of great footballers enjoying a kickaround on some wasteland. It's a dream all football fans still have and then it twists even better because the smart kid picks Beckenbauer and just when you think today's executive 60-year-old "Kaiser" is going to jog out for a game, they CGI in Beckenbauer in his prime. It's a simple, winning formula following on from the "road to Lisbon" ad a few years back. Enjoyed it from beginning to end.
I sabotaged the commercial potential of my last men's mag, Jack, by putting fucking wild animals all over it instead of naked birds and celebrities, so obviously Sure (1) is my type of ad. I like the way it uses one extreme to sell another - baboons and hyenas don't use deodorant, so let's get big gangs of wild animals jumping around in the centre of a city to sell one. Part 12 Monkeys, part City of God.
It also works for me because it moves too fast to let you clock everything in one sitting, so you're waiting for the next showing to count up all the different species. Simple beasts, us men. Up there with the Adidas as the best.
Finally, the BBC Radio 1 (4) Musicubes thing. For a middle-aged bloke well past his Radio 1 sell-by date, this just looks like a very flat and formal start to a computer game. Fuck knows what you're supposed to do with it.
1. SURE Project: Go wild Client: Nick Saunders, Rexona brand director, Unilever Brief: Establish Sure/Rexona as the deodorant of choice for football fans Agency: Lowe London Writer: Tom Hudson Art director: Lee Goulding Director: Noam Murro Production companies: Independent, Biscuit Filmworks Exposure: Pan-European TV 2. HALIFAX Project: Regular Saver Client: Steve Griffiths, head of marketing, Halifax Bank of Scotland Brief: Launch the Halifax Regular Saver account Agency: Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners Writers: Vicki Maguire, Rob Clayman Art director: Ronnie Brown Director: Andy Lambert Production company: Blink Exposure: National TV 3. LUCOZADE SPORT Project: Millilitres Client: Angela Eves, group brand manager, sport/hydro, Lucozade Brief: Realistically portray the narrow margin that Lucozade Sport can give you in sport Agency: M&C Saatchi Writer: Tom Drew Art director: Uche Ezugwu Director: Ivan Bird Production company: Serious Pictures Exposure: National TV 4. BBC RADIO 1 Project: Musicubes Client: James Wood, head of marketing, BBC Radio 1 Brief: Increase reach of Radio 1 among a young audience Agency: Agency Republic Writer: Gavin Gordon Rogers Art director: Gemma Butler Designers: Dilesh Lalloo, Oli Laurelle Exposure: Online 5. ADIDAS Project: Impossible team Clients: Uli Becker, head of Adidas brand marketing; Arthur Hold, global communication concept manager, Adidas Brief: Showcase Adidas' involvement as an official sponsor of the Fifa World Cup Agency: 180 Amsterdam Writers: Lee Hempstock, Richard Bullock Art directors: Chris Landy, Andy Fackrell Director: Ivan Zacharias Production company: Stink Exposure: Global TV, cinema 6. PLAYSTATION Project: SingStar Rocks! Client: Lucy Garnett, junior product manager, Sony Computer Entertainment UK Brief: Launch the latest title and expand the SingStar audience Agency: TBWA\London Writer: Michael Burke Art director: Steve Williams Director: Ron Scalpello Production company: Rogue Films Exposure: National TV, cinema