I’m sick of stupid TV shows - the ad breaks are so much more meaningful
You can learn a lot reading between the lines during the telly ad breaks
Donal’s Lottery Island: no sign of an insurgency
Donal’s Lottery Island
A man named Donal takes possession of a Mediterranean island thanks to a Lottery win. He then gifts the island to his people, the Gaels, and imposes Irish culture on all its citizens. How this is done is left vague. There is no sign of industrialisation or, indeed, an indigenous culture, although washing is seen strung up across what look like the ruins of a formerly great civilisation. The main industries now seem to be tourism and beach hurling. There’s no sign of an insurgency, but then we don’t have access to all of the island and there are dreadful rumours about what’s happening on the eastern coast. “Donal” is spoken of in hushed and awed terms but we do not meet Donal. No one has seen him in years. Isn’t he fantastic all the same?
Core message: The Irish are great craic (what’s the Irish for Lebensraum?)
Berocca Boost – the Big Day
This ad for the multivitamin product Berocca Boost hypothesises that you are a smug young Australian who has a busy day ahead. Yes, life is often difficult because you have a punchable face and must spend a lot of time in an office around other humans pretending to care about their feelings. Between you and me and the Berocca advertising department, soon you will be powerful enough to crush these losers – your boss, your in-laws, that work-shy degenerate Smithy – but in the meantime you must fake empathy. Bide your time. Yes, the moment will come when you will strip to the waist, paint your skin with blood and walk among their cowering bodies illuminated by fire and possibly energised by Berocca Boost. They will weep as they recognise your glory. But for now: spreadsheets.
Core message: People are but ants.
Johnston Mooney and O’Brien – weren’t the olden days gas
A man who is filled with feelings croons like an infant Luke Kelly while grainy footage flits by our joyless postmodern eyeholes: Michael Collins, horse and traps, the GAA, JFK, bumper cars. If you like these things, presumably you will also like bread, the advertisement suggests. It’s much more successful than the rival bread ad, which unwisely focuses on mass emigration, corporal punishment and rickets.
Core message: time is fleeting and we all must die; eat bread.
SSE Airtricity – Orang-utans!
A confused orang-utan attempts to make sense of human civilisation (this was created before the Trump presidency, so I don’t think it’s a direct commentary). She wanders around a fairground jumping from ride to ride, gazing soulfully at the works of the greater ape. She is, of course, trying to figure out the secret of fire magic in order to steal it and take it back to the jungle court of the Animal King, Geoff (he’s a lion). The camera cuts away before she forcibly extracts the information from a carnie. But be assured she commits this violence with sadness, for she understands death.
Core message: The time of man will soon be over.
Conor McGregor shills Budweiser
Conor McGregor walks from Dublin to New York, for he is Conor McGregor of whom the legends speak. In a voiceover, he implores us not to give up on our dreams, even stupid ones like “chocolate covered ham” or “I should quit my job and bring chocolate-covered-ham to market”*. McGregor is, it is implied, heavily fuelled by the tasteless yellow gripe-water Americans call “Budweiser” and walks as though he has a few cans secreted in his coat. Some people, the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland, for example, dislikes the idea of a possible role-model shilling the inspirational qualities of a mind-altering drug. But Budweiser has dreams of its own, which is why you have a black eye now and Budweiser has been renamed Conor McGregor’s Magical Dream Juice.
Core message: Fighty man likes firewater. Be like fighty man.
*For information on getting the chocolate-covered-ham franchise for your region contact email@example.com.
Ireland’s Ancient East
A father tells his child bedtime stories about violent conflicts and imprisoned political figures and weird old druids. The child is enthralled by this insight into what it’s like to live outside of Dalkey and yet the child’s mother inexplicably drags the father away. The child peers at the book his father was reading. He realises that the pages are blank and that his father is quite mad. It’s an important moment in his life. “Great stories stay with you forever,” says the voiceover artist who hasn’t quite grasped what’s going on here.
Core message: People always disappoint you. Come look at mountains.
McVities Digestives - now containing kittens!
My sister once found a worm in a bag of [redacted] , complained to the manufacturers and was sent a gift voucher for £10. Score! Soon [redacted] were being sent bags filled with all sorts of things by the Freyne household, who know a good thing when they see one, and were soon coming down with £10 vouchers (“Hyuck, Hyuck!” we said with glee). No such entrepreneurialism for the medical professionals in this ad, who, when their packet of digestives turns out to be filled with disgusting kittens, seem just fine with it. I can tell you now that if this happened in The Irish Times, management would have those kittens destroyed for health and safety reasons. Okay, I’m lying. We’d just eat the kittens, thankful for the protein.
Core message: Our biscuits contain kittens.
AIB ad featuring a nosy boy
A precocious child, coded as middle class by his confidence, helmet-shaped hair and banal preoccupation with pupil-teacher ratios, wanders around a suburb bothering people: shopkeepers, lollypop folk, local urchins. It slowly dawns on everyone that he’s here to stay thanks to AIB and its desire to give telegenic families mortgages. “This child has notions,” the locals think darkly, but as this is an aspirational advertisement and not a novel written by a depressed Irish émigré in the 1960s, the child is left with his illusions intact. He will have them well into his 20s.
Core message: Is homeschooling wise?
Davidoff Cool Water’s hunky swimmer
For some reason, a topless hunk goes swimming in his slacks after talking about the power of the ocean for a while. “What makes the ocean, makes the man,” he says inaccurately, because man is made of guts and bones and the ocean is made of fish tears. Ultimately, he’s selling a form of smell-good juice called Davidoff Cool Water that, if I’ve understood the ad correctly, works in the sea.
Core message: Our smell-good juice works in the sea
Yum! An ad for delicious Ariel detergent pods
Here are some things I know: Cats always land on their feet. Owls are wise. And if you want to know if something is safe to eat, see if a baby wants to eat it. Yeah, they’re clever little yokes, babies. So the notion propagated by this ad, that babies need to be protected from eating something that looks as delicious as a 3-in-1 Ariel detergent pod, is just more PC nonsense from so-called “experts” who know little of baby lore. Indeed, inspired by the plucky but gluttonous tykes in this ad, and in defiance of “project fear”, I’m eating a mouthful of succulent Ariel pods right now.
Core message: [Vomiting sounds and wailing about “no good babies” and “betrayal”.]