Friday, 17 April 2009

The Fall of Walkers Sensations

The First Age

I remember the original release of Walkers Sensations crisps. It was an exciting new development, and I have fond memories (ok, one vague memory) of tasting the first few flavours during lunch time at school. They were awesome.
The range grew and grew, adding more and more unusual and adventurous flavours (the short lived mushroom and white wine flavour are particularly sadly missed). And they became my crisp of choice on all occasions. The delight of seeing a new flavour in the shops is something I fear I shall never relive.
Because then, they disappeared.

The Second Age

What a joy it was to see Sensations return to the shelves. After gasping in disbelief at the removal of many favourite flavours however, I became disillusioned. The oriental cracker and poppadom ranges were a small comfort, and the delicious szechuan spice flavour appeared all too late.
However, the remaining flavours were still of a high quality (albeit a little less imaginative), and my faith in the brand was fully restored when they released their range of deli-style corn chips. Both flavours were DELICIOUS.

This too shall pass.

The Third Age

Recently, Walkers Sensations were re-released for a second time. This time, even fewer flavours survived, and several particularly uninspired new ones were created. The downturn in quality this time was obvious. The packet art has deteriorated from sophisticated to tacky, the flavour list from tantalising to dull. If this does not mark the death of the brand... well, perhaps it would be kinder if it did.

The final nail in the coffin of this once-great brand? A single phrase. A slogan. Brazenly emblazoned across the inadvisibly redesigned packet art;

"100% Real Ingredients".

WHO LET THIS THROUGH? Anything in the packet is by definition an ingredient. So how can something BE an ingredient, and yet not be a 'real' ingredient?! Life is hard enough without having to worry about the ontological status of every damn thing I eat.

"Because the chairman of Walkers crisps has begun to embrace solipsism, we can no longer guarantee the existence of any of our ingredients. May contain: Tomatoes that are an illusion created by a malignant superbeing, lambs plagued by existential crises and traces of the purely abstract.

Warning: Made in a factory where the workers frequently imagine nuts."

Numerals are the New Letters. Word. I Mean... Integer.

Product: injurylawyers4u
Slogan: "100% Lawyers! 100% Compensation!"
Recommended Alternative: "WeSpendsoMuchTimeWrkingonyourKses,WeHavtoAbbrevi8Everythin WeWriteByondRecognition!"

This one by request of my sister, as we've laughed at it on television together many times.

Here's the offending advert:

Again, there's so much wrong here it's hard to know where to start. The fact that the guy in the advert feels the need to clarify that "They're real lawyers!" says an awful lot.

The biggest immediate problem is the name. injurylawyers4u contains a number of crass colloquialisms that are simply out of place in the name of a legal service company worthy of any respect. The obvious horror is the clumsy "4u" contraction, but not content with merely butchering the English language in this way, they also deign to remove all the spaces and capital letters. Phones4u can just about get away with this; it's still a pretty unpleasant way to write, but at least they are purveyors of mobile telephones, rather than (allegedly) qualified legal personell employed to help people through difficult and painful situations in their lives.
Seriously, would you trust these people to give you legal advice??

All this, and we've yet to even address the slogan. I'm sure I don't need to point out why this one is hilarious, but lets subject it to the usual over-analysis anyway...

"100% lawyers!" Not like all those other legal firms who make do with 80% lawyers and have to make up the numbers with zookeepers and sous chefs! So when you hire a lawyer, you're guaranteed to get a lawyer. Every time! One would have thought that trading standards would keep tabs on this sort of thing, but I suppose you can't be too careful.

"100% compensation!" I suppose this refers to comments on other similar advertisements where they say something like, "You get 100% of the compensation because we recover our costs from the other side". This clumsy rewording, though, retains the depressingly misleading spirit of that statement while also managing to crush the meaning out almost entirely.

I've often wondered what type of customer this kind of advertising approach is meant to attract. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence would dismiss them on the grounds of their appalling use of language, and everyone else would at least shop around for the best price. I think if we can ever find the type of person who is actually *attracted* to a company like this, we will have a far greater idea of what is wrong with the world.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Fruit and Nuts

Product: Lynx 'Instinct' Deodorant
Slogan: Unleash the Man Leather
Recommended Alternative: {censored}

Unleash the WHAT? The WHAT? I saw this on a few bus stops in town today, and I immediately knew I had to include it here.
The mind boggles at the phrase, though on first glance I thought it said "Man Lather", so I guess it could have been much worse. I wouldn't have put that past Lynx, though.
Leather doesn't do much when you unleash it. It just kind of sags and creaks. On the other hand, that equally applies to a lot of men I know, so they may be onto something.

Product: Fruit Sellers in Cardiff.
Slogan: "Two for a pound of strawberries!"
Recommended Alternative: Something that actually means what they're trying to say.

I must have heard this phrase ringing out across the streets of Cardiff thousands of times in my life. I suppose it's just because I was so used to hearing it, but I'd never really thought the phrase over until this weekend. I'm reasonably sure that it qualifies as an advertising slogan; it's a snappy phrase invented to alert consumers and attract them to a product, anyway.

Firstly, what is it supposed to mean? I can think of several equally valid interpretations;

1) 1lb of strawberries costs £2.
2) 2 strawberries cost £1.
3) 2 punnets of strawberries cost £1.
4) A service where 2 strawberries can be exchanged for 1lb of strawberries (stupid, but the most grammatically accurate interpretation I can come up with).

Well, I suppose it must either be 1) or 3), but neither really seems right, and annoyingly, depending on the size of a punnet, may be very similar. Hmm, maybe strawberries come in 1/4lb punnets, just to mess with our heads...

The weirdest part of all is that I remember them shouting exactly the same thing when I was a small boy. Hasn't inflation affected soft fruit prices at all?!