Monday, 12 January 2009

At a time of frugality, TV ads recruit major stars

First published at

What do Carol Vorderman, Charlotte Church, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Dame Edna Everedge and… er… Ringo star all have in common? If I didn’t know, I’d be struggling!

But eagle-eyed TV viewers amongst you (it’s probably just about the only thing you can rely on in these uncertain times) will have spotted them, geriatric Rock legends to national treasures all on adverts on British Television.

Why, you might ask, are such culturally important figures trying to flog me everything from magazines to insurance, to highlighting the terrifically important fact that Norwich Union has changed its name?

Vorderman can be forgiven. Having been asked to take a whopping pay cut at Channel 4, she opted, or was coerced into making her final Countdown.

Joining the dole cue with the rising numbers of 18-24 year olds and recent graduates would probably have been a bit demeaning. So she’s advertising Reveal Magazine instead.

Charlotte Church is advertising Virgin Holidays, making use of those famed vocal cords when not being slated about or recording her Channel 4 show of the same name. Bet she isn’t even a virgin…

With the birth of that second baby you’d be forgiven for thinking she needs the extra cash. But with two celebrity incomes? If she isn’t just selling her soul, we should all be worried.

Ringo, Iggy, Alice, where has it all gone wrong? Norwich Union, or Aviva, have obviously found your price. But was it a high price at a time when we should all be tightening our belts, in which case, shame on you for indulging their decadence, or a low price, as even international superstars can’t ride the gravy train forever?

Did you have all your royalty cheques tied up in Iceland Ringo? Were you fooled by the friendly hedge fund salesman Ig?

Or was it a bright-eyed marketing guru who came up with this age-old way to shift crap, but this time in a bleary-eyed country that is just waking up to a very harsh financial reality?

We don’t need anything else. We all need to be a bit more frugal. We’re done with our celebrity fragrances; the smell of the fear of financial meltdown serves us all with a constant reminder.

We’ve all borrowed beyond our means, apparently no one saw it coming, and no one’s quite sure how we’re going to pay it all back. And still the perverse mind-games, using celebrities to endorse brands so us normal folk can dream that one day too, might we have to change our name to become a star, because what Ultimate Fighting World Champion is called Gaz Thomas?

I’d be surprised if these celebrities are joining the bread line just yet. And I bet they can all sleep at night in their Egyptian cotton bed linen on the 50th floor of the apartment in New York with the security guards at the door.

But cheers for rubbing it in!

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