For anyone as captivated by new and potentially interesting TV experiences as BrokenTV, every trip overseas usually contains a frisson of excitement when being in a bar that has a television set in it, and some commercials come on. This initial sense of wonder soon disappears just as soon as realise that (a) there is seemingly an upper limit of six different television commercials in circulation in many countries at any different time, (b) around 60% of them are just the same as the ones over here, except the can of Lynx shown at the end of it is a can of Axe, and (c) the remainder are shit adverts for mobile phones or digital cameras. And yet, each time we find ourselves in an alien land and the ads appear, or if we're merely in a pub showing an illicit stream of ESPN Hong Kong, the faint sense of wonder returns. This may be why we feel compelled to drink so much. Hic.
With that in mind, earlier on today we were trawling our EPG, looking for any gems offered by our shiny new subscription to Setanta, and slightly hoping against hope it was them and not Sky Sports who were showing live coverage of the Liverpool versus Portsmouth Asia Trophy final. NASN were showing a mens lacrosse match between New Jersey and Philadelphia, which was moderately interesting for about three minutes, but once you've got over the fact it's simultaneously one of the most effeminate and yet violent sports you're likely to encounter, it's a bit dull. We finally settled on Setanta Ireland, showing a repeat of the Peace Cup final between Bolton and Lyon. If we'd known what a crashingly dull match it had turned out to be, we mightn't have bothered, but there was one saving grace.
You see, and we might be wrong here, we're pretty sure Setanta Ireland is blocked for Setanta subscribers who live outside the emerald isle, but this wasn't blocked at all. Possibly the controller of Setanta Ireland had decided residents of Ireland shouldn't be the only ones to suffer. Either way, it meant we got to see the adverts offered up to viewers in the Republic of Ireland. "So?", you may be wondering at this point, "You don't update for nearly a month, then it's something as meaningless as this? No wonder all those readers who found the site after the DVD piracy poster update didn't stick around". Oh hush, you sweet fool. It's interesting. Yes, it is.
Unless you're reading this and you live in Ireland, in which case you might like to pop next door and see if BrokenFM are up to anything, because you'll pretty much know what's coming up.
ADVERT ONE: CARLSBERG
There are a few things over the past few years that have made us question our loyalty to Liverpool FC, and consider supporting someone else instead. We would have ditched them before you could say Istvan Kozma if they'd signed Lee Bowyer, but luckily the rat-faced bigot wanted too much money. If cuddly violator of human rights Thaksin Shinawatra had managed to take control of the club, then Rick Parry would have made it onto our enemies list (somewhere between Richard Bacon and the evil clown who our parents). The actions of the hundreds of boneheaded scallies who'd thought a perfect way to compliment their Justice For The 96 wristbands would be to barge their way into the Olympic Stadium and potentially cause another disaster brought us perilously close to the edge of disowning the club.
It says a lot about our total inability to maintain a sense of perspective when we state that another reason we feel slightly ashamed to follow Liverpool is the fact they're sponsored by the company responsible for one of the shittest advertising campaigns on British television. "Carlsberg don't do nightclubs, but if we did, we'd use it as an excuse to cram lots of bland anonymous big-titted FHM photoshoot types into a crowded space because our advertising agency isn't very imaginative".
Happily, the Irish campaign is much better. It features a bloke chatting up a pretty girl at a bar, yes, but it's an Irish bloke in an American bar, which is a vast improvement on the UK adverts which are clearly made to be interchangable with as many other dialects as possible (which is why there's the bare minimum of speech in them and a lack of nation-centric landmarks, you see). Pretty Girls' boyfriend comes along, leading Pretty Girl to offer Irish Bloke two options; run away, or get kicked in. Luckily, Irish Bloke saves the day with a bit of blarney instead. Slogan: It's never just A or B, there's always C - Carlsberg.
Granted, it's hardly Citzen Kane, but it's amiable enough, and a welcome change from the UK's Carlsberg advertising, which still seems to think that every alcohol-quaffing male amongst the population is a thick Nuts reader. Still, tits eh? Tits! Phwoar!
ADVERT TWO: JOHNNIE FOX'S PUB
The next advert is more representative of Setanta Ireland's daytime ad-space. A cartoon fox is having a nice sleep. As Shakepeare once wrote, "to sleep perchance to dream about a little cartoon fox donning a little green waistcoat and joining in a riverdance in Ireland's highest pub", although the last part of that was largely implicit. Yes, that's right, somewhat delightedly a large proportion of the adverts on Setanta Ireland are for specific establishments. It’s like being in a cinema sometime in the early 1980s and getting to see lots of local adverts, but with improved promotion budgets.
ADVERT THREE: TAILORING ALTERATIONS CENTRE
Taking it to the next level, another cartoon advert, this is a barely animated Flash effort about altering suits to measure. “For all your alteration needs”. And that’s about it. Excellent stuff.
ADVERT FOUR: MCDONALDS
A schoolboy is getting ready for school. In order to fit in with his male-grooming-fixated peer group, he has borrowed and applied some of his mothers moisturiser. But: Oh no! It’s tinted moisturiser! Alack! His face is as orange as the bastard offspring of an Oompa Loompa and Gavin Henson. What to do?
Clearly, the only thing that can now happen is for the pantry door to open in a shaft of beaming white light, revealing twice Eurovision winner Johnny Logan, belting out the song which took him to triumph in 1987 , “Hold Me Now”. With Ireland’s Mr Eurovision in the room, the schoolboy has finally found the father figure he had been seeking for so long, and as his mother collapses in shock, the boy seeks solace by burying his face in the arms of The Loge. A-ha-ha-and thereby rubbing a large orange smear onto Logan’s white jacket. Gleefully ignoring the cost of having to dry clean his outfit, Logan merely chuckles and offers the boy a McDonalds hamburger. So you see, what with McDonalds selling a nice hamburger that costs just one Euro, everything will be okay.
ADVERT FIVE: STREETCARE SERVICES LTD
Almost taking the form of a Powerpoint presentation more than a proper television advert, this adverts tells the viewing public how adept Streetcare services are at the art of contemporary street furniture. Need a bus shelter? A shopping trolley garage? A Park bench? A bin? A bike shelter? Or even a pitch dugout? You do? Then they’re your men and/or women!
Rubbish sarcasm aside (they’re running successful businesses, while we’re anonymous twats sneering at them on the internet. My, aren’t WE big?), adverts like this are worth approximately eighteen million identikit adverts for debt consolidation or personal injury claims that make up the vast majority of afternoon ad breaks on other digital channels, so more power to them. Of the two commercial breaks we’ve now watched on Irish telly, only one advert contained any stereotypical fiddle-dee-diddly-dee Oirishness, and that had a small cartoon fox in it, so we can probably forgive even that. BrokenTV doesn’t have a lot of truck with lazy regional stereotyping, you see. We’re Welsh, and we’ve hardly ever worn a stovepipe hat or molested a ewe.
In summary then: Irish adverts – more of them please.