Adverts continue to prey on our nostalgia but do they really work? - Alexander Brown

Have you seen Transformers? Because I’ve unfortunately seen Transformers. Even worse than that, I’ve seen Transformers 2.

The films are abject, with Michael Bay managing to make something as cool as robots hitting each other not just offensive, but completely boring.

But I’ve seen the films. There are many others, all equally without merit, if critics are to be believed.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Yet they make money. Gargantuan unpleasant amounts of money. Across six films, the franchise has made £3.51 billion.

Transformers. Picture: ShutterstockTransformers. Picture: Shutterstock
Transformers. Picture: Shutterstock

Based on a Hasbro franchise that puts toys in cartoons, the company has transformed to be a global brand.

Now having made the jump to live action cinema, it’s decided Megatron has had enough and the next battle is making sure punters get insurance.

Yes insurance. Bumblebee from Transformers has gone full influencer and is now in adverts for Direct Line Insurance.

What’s worse is he isn’t alone, being joined in separate adverts by RoboCop, and Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I can’t be alone in wondering why or how this is happening?

What adult sees a turtle that lives in sewers as an authority on road safety, or a metal policeman who kills 21 people in a one hour 42 running time? Sure Bumblebee can turn into a car, but he doesn’t even drive.

And shoving characters into adverts without even the hint of a premise isn’t even limited to Direct Line.

Top Cat, a cartoon character never knowingly on the side of the man now appears in Halifax adverts. What does a cat know about interest rates?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He’s joined by his fellow Hanna-Barbera creations the Flintstones as well as the entire cast of Scooby-Doo, who must be wondering whose mask they have to rip off to make it stop.

Because the waves of nostalgia don't end with synth having a resurgence, flares coming back, or shows like Stranger Things.

These adverts feel compelled to be part of the zeitgeist, scrambling for relevancy in an industry flush with cash but low on ideas.

Our nostalgia is to be monetised if not exploited by advertising companies who can afford all your favourites but have no idea what to do with them.

It’s hard to see it as anything but a cynical attempt to either prey on nostalgia, or get you to buy it so your kids are happy, like putting a cute meerkat next to an insurance scheme and promising you a fluffy toy if you spend enough.

I just think adverts are terrible, with nothing to say and increasingly long amounts of time to do it in.

Who is seeing Tom Hardy drive a car and thinking I’ll have one of those? I’d understand it if he came with the car, but to my knowledge he doesn’t.

Adverts shoving gambling down our throats, celebrities pretending perfume makes you beautiful, dodgy loans – these are the horrors I know and can accept.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But do we really need our childhood favourites selling us car insurance?

A car accident would be bad enough, I shouldn’t have to be reminded of Michael Bay if it happens.

The classics are being damaged enough with remakes. Sell me something because it’s good, not because I liked the character you’ve put next to it.

Alexander Brown is a columnist with Scotland on Sunday and Westminster Correspondent with The Scotsman

Related topics:



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.