Monday, 16 March 2009

They say you are a man of good... taste.

This is an advert for a chocolate bar.

No I don't get it either.

Adverts are becoming progressively stranger. For example the above advert was created for the Cadbury's chocolate company by a group called Fallon. Fallon's previous work for the confectionery giant includes an ad depicting a Gorilla playing the drums along to the tune of an old Phil Collins record. No really, that was it. An ape banging on some bongos in slow mo while the man who wrote the soundtrack for Tarzan warbles in the background. (Gee Note  How this is supposed to inspire you to buy some chocolate I have no idea. It would be like a tap dancing bat dressed in a little bow tie advertising frozen fish. Actually maybe I should pitch that idea to an ad agency. "Hey guys, you know how most adverts for frozen fish have, like, a family or something sitting down around a dinner table enjoying a meal going "Mmm, that's a tasty fish"? Well don't you think that's a bit old fashioned? I mean what are we, stuck in the 80's or something? How about, now think about this, but how about we have a drunken tap dancing bat singing "My Darling Clementine" for thirty seconds and then… BOOM we flash the logo up. Frozen fish drives you batty!!! Whaddya think?!? Guys? Guys?").

See advertising is a curious business. Despite the fact that an advert's primary reason for existence is to shill a product to the unsuspecting masses, there's a constant war going on within ad-land between the need to sell and the artistic desire to create something fresh and innovating. In recent times it appears the former has come a distant second to the latter. Take a look at Goodfellas pizza for example. About ten years ago Goodfellas released an advert where an Italian American family were shown enjoying a good old pizza pie at a wedding. About as subtle as a brick, the advert managed to say the product name about seven thousand times in the space of 30 seconds, while employing the oldest stereotypes with characters using terms such as "Badda Bing!" and "Forget about it!". Now compare this to Goodfellas' recent sponsorship of light entertainment Saturday evening fluff "You've been Framed". Instead of say, oooh I don't know, a three second shot of some dude chomping on a margarita, we were treated to a wooden puppet popping out of a freezer. The puppet, designed to look like the late Barry White, would then stare at the camera with it's lifeless eyes before spitting out the line "It's goooooood" (Gee Note: I swear I'm not making this up). It's stuff like this that makes one think that those marketing folks in London should really lay off the cocaine for a bit.

It was car adverts that actually started this trend. And in all honesty it's not the advertisers fault. In the UK the government has an irrational fear that if driving fast is made to look sexy or exciting in anyway, then an epidemic of people hurtling themselves in to inanimate objects could be upon us. So, in an effort to avoid this apocalyptic scenario, the government has banned auto mobile adverts from mentioning speed in any way shape or form. Which means that instead of giving those good people in ad-land the chance to go "Buy our car, it’s fast and it also comes in orange!" they now have to think of all sorts of weird and wonderful ways in which to sell their products. And so we've had robots serving tea from Honda, knitted puppets shouting "C'Mon!!!" from Vauxhall, and for some reason a kung fu fight between a balding engineer and several of his clones courtesy of Volkswagen. But my favourite over recent years has to be this one.

To revisit the underlying message from this ad in case you missed it the first time around: If you think that feeding off other humans blood and being unable to take a trip to a Mediterranean shore to enjoy a spot of sunbathing is something to aspire to, then this car is for you. If on the other hand you want to be able to enjoy a stroll through a park on a sunny afternoon or, you know, actually like the taste of garlic then buy a Toyota or something.

But then, hey, you can't blame the media men for thinking this would sell more cars. After all, vampires are cool right? If Stoker is to be believed vampires are suave, sophisticated, charming, and are probably ace racketball players to boot.

Except, and here's the thing, I'm not sure I'd enjoy being a vampire all that much. Firstly I actually love building sandcastles on the beach during a warm summer's day. (Gee Note: No really I do. I try and make them all fancy with towers and stuff. I mean it never quite comes off as planned, and I always end up with something more akin to a jellyfish than an actual castle, but dammit I try). Secondly I wouldn't want a brick shoved down my throat after I'm dead. I mean obviously I wouldn't know about it if it did happen so I guess it doesn't make a hill o' beans here or there, but when I'm gone I want future generations to know what the score really was. So a 500ft statue of me wrestling a buffalo to the ground is fine. But my corpse wearing a cement block between it's gnashers? Not so much.

Allow me to explain. Last week Reuters reported in their “Oddly Enough” section that a female vampire had been dug up in Venice. According to the report anthropologist Matteo Borrini (Gee Note: Who's name is really fun to say out loud) unearthed, um, well, this

Apparently this sexy beast was found during an excavation of a mass grave for the 1576 Venetian plague. It's a female skeleton which, as you can plainly see, has a bloody great big brick in it's mouth. Now the first question anyone will ask upon seeing this should be (Gee Note: Man I'm hungry. Is there a KFC around here?) why is this woman's lifeless body trying to make a snack out of a rock? Well, stick with me on this because it might take some explaining. Basically the theory is that grave robbers used to crack open these caskets and find, well, dead people. Except there was something very odd about these folks that had shuffled off this mortal coil.

There's an urban legend that after you die your hair keeps growing. While that's true to a certain extent, it is only for a couple of hours after death at most. Instead what actually happens is that as the fat and moisture seeps from your recently deceased mass, your skin starts to shrivel. And as it tightens the hair on the body appears to grow.

Now if you think that's gross, then you're quite right. But wait there's more. As you decompose gas builds in you stomach area causing it to bloat. And blood, being a liquid that's kind of surplus to requirements at this point, starts trying to escape from any hole it can find thanks to the pressure caused by the above mentioned skin shrivelling and gas building (Gee Note: I've changed my mind. Screw the statue. When I go I want to be tied to a massive firework and blown up somewhere over the Atlantic. To hell with being buried, my sorry ass better be well and truly scattered).

So imagine yourself in medieval Venice digging up a grave only to find that, for all intents and purposes, the dead body inside had a bloody mouth, a full tummy, and striking new hair-do. Couple that with the fact that bacteria had eaten it's way through the ceremonial shroud that covered the deceased's face and you have to admit it would be enough to freak anyone out. And so it's not surprising then that folks put two and two together and came up with twelve.

According to religious and medical journals from the time these corpses were in fact “undead” monsters that would actually be responsible for the outbreak of plagues. They would, apparently, spread the disease and then suck the remaining life out of those struck down by it until they regained enough power to go back to hosting gameshows stalking the streets looking for fresh meat.

And so our ancestors came up with a fantastically practical way of stopping these “Nightwalkers” by, er, stuffing something inedible in their gob. Which is really kind of clever when you think about it. I mean admittedly if you believe in vampires in the first place your probably not going to win any “Brain of the Year” prizes anytime soon. But, you know, if it was me I'd still be there scratching my head on how to tackle this gosh darned blood sucker problem.

Which I guess is the moral of this story. Despite the fact that medieval Venetians came up with an ingenious and relatively sensible way to stop plagues way back when, they never actually accomplished it. Simply because the “known truths” they based their theories on turned out to be, well, nonsense. One can't help but think that our modern day societies could benefit in learning a lesson or two from that.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy a car.


Venom said...

"drunken tap dancing bat singing "My Darling Clementine" for thirty seconds and then… BOOM we flash the logo up. Frozen fish drives you batty!!!"

ummm, I think fish for dinner tonight...

I've jumped over from HBDC - I admit your blog name caught my eye (probably because I just saw Elvis and am doing a review of his show on my blog this week).

Funny stuff; I'll stop by again.

Mark Base said...

Brilliant post. It's made me hungry though.