THERE has been much debate of late regarding the quality of programming on our television screens. Reports have come within the last week that the BBC is to concentrate on quality programme-making instead of attracting ratings and ITV has apparently been losing viewers left, right and centre.
A frequent comment has been that sometimes the adverts are more entertaining than the programmes themselves.
This is often very true as advertisers look for more clever and imaginative ways of grabbing the audience’s attention long enough to stop them surfing elsewhere or putting the kettle on. For example, we’ll soon see a car manufacturer give away a car during an ad break this Easter.
But one recent ad for, of all things, a cleaning product, not only grabbed my attention, but had me staring open-mouthed in complete wonder at the television set.
Sadly for the advertisers concerned, my attraction and fascination with "Cillit Bang" is for all the wrong reasons. This is the appallingly cheesy TV campaign fronted by a man who introduces the ad with a smile and the phrase "Hi, I’m Barry Scott" and goes on to tell you how remarkable this stuff is and how it will completely change your domestic life if you buy some.
I thought I was watching a spoof ad when it first came on such was the naff-ness of this particular 30-second bit of TV wonderment.
We don’t normally get ads of this calibre unless we’re watching dodgy channels solely dedicated to shopping for or bidding for diamonique jewellery or the entire hits of the 50s on just 85 CDs.
I watched it a number of times thinking I was missing out on something because I never got the punchline. Then it dawned on me. There IS no punchline. This is a SERIOUS ad!!
This stuff claims, like so many before it, to clean, even the toughest stains from your world. The ad claims you can take a baked-on-grime-filled oven tray, and with just one wipe of Cillit Bang . . . ping! It’s like new! You could even make all your old coins look like new after dipping them in it for 15 seconds.
I’ll go back to the claims shortly, but it was the use of Barry Scott that really puzzled me. I mean, who in the name of grime, is Barry Scott? And why should I take it from him that this stuff is so good?
Take other campaigns fronted by individuals. Jamie Oliver advertises a supermarket; that’s alright coz he knows about the stuff you get from them. Ainsley Harriott and his washing-up liquid; as a chef he’ll have seen a few mucky pots in his time and need I say any more than Dawn French and her chocolate oranges?
But Barry Scott?
So, I went on a bit of a rant about this very subject the other day on my radio show and within minutes I was being inundated with responses about the advert, the product and, indeed, Mr Barry Scott.
That night it also featured on Watchdog because on the packaging it has an image of an oven suggesting it was good for cleaning them. But if you read the small print on the back it advises you not to.
Similarly it advises against using it on copper, yet good old Barry Scott had just cleaned a two-penny piece in 15 seconds.
It didn’t take long, but my listeners and I quickly got to the bottom of this mysterious man. It turns out he is a fictitious character created by the advertisers and is played by an actor called Neil Burgess.
One of Mr Burgess’s most recent claims to fame, other than Cillit Bang of course, is that he appeared in Bryan McFadden’s recent hit video for Real To Me, I kid you not!
So is this the way ahead? Some advertisers may argue that the very fact that I have talked about this on radio and here in the paper means the campaign has been a good one and has worked.
I’m not quite so sure. Yes, I’ve watched the ad. Yes, I know the product. But have I gone out and bought the stuff?
Suffice to say, the coins in my pocket are nowhere near as shiny as Barry Scott’s!