Omaze isn’t a scam: it’s more depressing than that
Omaze is the worst advert of the week. I look back at when Admiral Insurance swapped their mascot's gender. Vintage advert loveliness with Tudor Crisps. Plus Lilt! Chocolate Orange-stealing seagulls!
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The worst advert of the week: Omaze
On the face of it, I suppose, you can’t lose. Maybe you were going to donate to charity anyway; maybe you’d like that fuck-off massive house on the Cornish coast. Why not combine the two? Of course, out of your donation of, say, a tenner, about £1.50 goes to charity. So you could always simply donate a tenner to charity and feel good about, ooh, making sure someone can eat a hot meal, have someone to talk to when lonely or, y’know, save someone’s life.
You’d forgo the one-in-several-million chance (my rough calculations suggest that you can double the cost of the prize to find your actual chances of winning; £4.5m house = one in 9,000,000 chance of winning) to scoop a Lake District farmhouse you don’t especially want, there’s that. But is donating money to good causes worth anything if you don’t stand the chance to win a Porsche Cayenne Hybrid as a result?
I’m sure Omaze has donated lots of money to charity over the years, just as I’m sure that the money would have been donated to charity anyway, without all the LONDON HOUSE claptrap getting in the way of it. I also wonder how much cash gets diverted from charities not affiliated with Omaze in preference for the ones that are. Try and pick the ethical bones out of that one.
It’s not the commercial radio delivery that gets me here or the perma-grinned presenters. It’s not even the fact that someone, somewhere (in America, as it goes) has monetised charity donations. It’s this: the implication that we need an incentive to act charitably, to act kindly, to help people, animals, the planet. Because apparently that's not incentive enough.
Omaze isn’t a scam. It’s more depressing than that.
From the vaults: Admiral Insurance’s baffling “The Admiral” adverts
It’s seven years since Admiral Insurance assaulted the nation with their series of adverts featuring The Admiral, a seemingly omnipotent superhero mascot obsessed with getting customers great deals, looking after her staff and sharing an oddly flirtatious relationship with office arsehead Tom.
That the agency involved actually made Lucy Barker, the actor in question (an absolute hero of advertising and everyone’s go-to choice when you need a pretty, upper-class lady WASP) dress up in the Admiral’s ludicrous outfit and meet people in real life, for God’s sake.
The lid was mercifully closed not long into the campaign, but not before the relationship between The Admiral and Tom seemed to develop into, well, something. It led me off into a flight of fancy about what the Admiral got up to at night. And what if the overwhelming burden of extraordinary powers and high-pressure boardroom environment were to have releases that might be deemed… unconventional?
Simply: what if, when she’d finished always looking out for the customer during the day, by night The Admiral was more concerned with looking out for her own sado-masochistic sexual needs?
EXT. A TERRACED STREET (PROBABLY IN AYLESBURY) – EVENING
Admiral (on Tom’s doorstep): Evening Tom.
Tom (taken aback): Oh. Hello.
Admiral (simultaneously): Is there something…?
Tom (simultaneously): It’s just I didn’t expect…
Admiral (simultaneously): ..wrong?
Tom: (simultaneously): …to see you. Hahaha!
Admiral: Sorry. Go on.
Tom: It’s just… we never see you unless it’s at the office? [Beat]. Can I smell gin?
Admiral (removing hat and shaking hair out): Oh, come on Tom. Even Admirals let their hair down from time to time you know.
Tom (awkwardly): Oh, haha. Yes I suppose all work and… ( he tails off).
The Admiral fixes Tom with a grin and moves slightly closer
Admiral: Aren’t you going to invite me in, Tom?
Tom (laughs without humour): It’s just, er…
Admiral: You aren’t going to keep a girl waiting on the doorstep, Tom?
Tom: Oh! No! No, come in. Excuse the, er. It’s just I wasn’t expecting, um…
Admiral (a little slurred): Aren’t you going to offer me a drink? When I have too much to drink I’m naughty! I bet you like naughty girls don’t you Tom?
Tom: Oh, haha! Well we’re all a little bit, um, naughty sometimes. Look, it’s just I’ve got this Fray Bentos pie in the oven…
Admiral (pouting): Don’t you like me Tom? I’ve got all dressed up for you. I thought you’d like it.
Tom: It’s… very nice. I always wondered if you actually wore it after hours… Look, this is…
Admiral (hiccuping): Aren’t I beautiful, Tom?
Tom: Yes! God, yes. But I’m… I’m seeing someone.
Admiral: Oh, oh God. I’ve made such a fool of myself.
She starts crying.
Tom: Look, it’s OK. Look I’m very flattered. You’re a very beautiful… Admiral.
Admiral (sniffs): Am I really beautiful? No-one’s ever told me I’m beautiful.
She touches his hand.
Tom: Very beautiful. I mean there are lots of men… If things were different…
Admiral (softly): I’ve seen you looking at me Tom.
Tom (startled): What?
Admiral: In the office. I’ve seen you looking at me; undressing me with your eyes. You want me Tom (she drools slightly and smudges her lipstick wiping it away). You want to make love to me don’t you.
Tom (appalled): Make love?
Admiral (looking down): It’s so very unprofessional you know. Looking at me, lusting after me. And with me being your boss…
Tom: What do you mean?
Admiral: I could overlook it of course, if you were nice to me.
Tom: I don’t…
Admiral: I mean if you were very nice to me, Tom.
Tom: Look, I think…
The Admiral removes her tunic to reveal a peephole bra. Tom’s nose twitches as he detects the aroma of Fray Bentos Steak & Kidney pie wafting in from the kitchen.
Tom: Oh Jesus…
Admiral: So you see Tom. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. I’m always looking out for my staff Tom.
Tom (flustered): Look, I think I can smell burning and I said I’d visit my Mum…
Admiral (directly): Jesus Christ. Tom, you’re going to walk over here, bend me over this couch and whip me until I come. Is that understood?
Tom (shocked): But!
Admiral (sharply): Is that understood?
Tom (resigned): Yes.
15 minutes later
Admiral (breezily): Tom?
Tom (slowly buttoning up shirt while looking at the floor): Yes?
Admiral (coldly): We don’t need to mention this. Ever.
Tom miserably closes the door behind the Admiral, just as a smoke alarm in the kitchen rents the air.
Classic ad of the week: Tudor Crisps
What would you do for a bag of Tu-dah? As those of us old enough to remember these Tudor Crisps adverts from the 70s and 80s know only too well, they are worth climbing a mountain for. All the ads feature Terry, first as a wily paperboy conning a younger mate to deliver his papers to the Dunston Rocket, an incredible 29-storey brutalist tower block, now sadly demolished, in Newcastle. In exchange of a “bag ‘o Tu-dah” of course.
Next Terry returns as a fully-grown, though still snack-crazed, adultman to see his old boss and learn about the new flavours offered by Tudor Crisps. Having scoffed his way through a bag of the specials, Terry reveals he’s not exactly making his way in the world – instead he’s a chauffeur. There’s more than a whiff of Clement & Le Fenais to these ads – and that impression is confirmed when we hear who’s doing the voiceovers at the end.
Next up on Terry’s crisp-orientated rampage around his old haunts is a young floppy-haired student, who gets exactly what he deserves for not displaying the local lingo by having Terry scoff all his crisps and leave him high and dry on the A1 hard shoulder. What a bastard.
Still, it’s hard to stay angry at Terry and soon he has a hot date. It seems some pyar canny Geordie rumpy-pumpy is likely to take place in the back of Terry’s Rolls. And what could be better than a shag in a limo with the Tyne bridge lit up in the background? I’ll tell you what could be better – a bag of Tudor Crisps Tomato Sauce flavour.
Sharon is, understandably, disappointed at first, probably expecting something involving sausage at least. But she soon relents – and her moans of passion soon give way to the unmistakable sound of Terry’s salty morsels being enthusiastically masticated. The message? Well, clearly the love of Tudor Crisps can lead to sociopathic behaviour – and even to passing up clear offers of penetrative sex. To be fair, they must be some bloody good snacks.
The Geordie references? Count ’em. First there’s the all-toon cast, including Allen Mechen (spotted in such Tyneside classics as Spender and later as a Geordie baddie in Brookside) as Adult Terry. Then the homely voiceover of James Bolam, aka Terry Collier of The Likely Lads (and sequel Whatever Happened To…). The numerous shots of Newcastle landmarks of course. And finally the soundtrack to these Tudor Crisps adverts – The Blaydon Races, a song probably incomprehensible to anyone born outside a 50-mile radius of Gateshead.
Watch these ads and I challenge you not to feel like it’s nearing teatime on a Friday afternoon in between Batfink and Rainbow.
What I’ve been reading
😔 The Guardian on Lilt (RIP)
A good round-up of old Lilt adverts, which all look a tad dubious these days. Includes the description of Lilt as the ‘fake dreadlocks of soft drinks’, which made me laugh. Writer Nels Abbey has this to say:
“Lilt could not have been less authentic as a “taste of the tropics” if it called itself Bob Marley Brew. It was the soft drink equivalent of blackface; a liquid echo of a variety show limbo dance.”
None of which has stopped me stocking up on Lilt with the intention of selling it for vastly inflated prices in a few months’ time.
🚫 When you put Harold Shipman in your advert for life insurance
Among recent Advertising Standards Authority judgements was this one against a company called Dead Happy that sells life insurance, whose advert showed an image of Harold Shipman along with the words ‘[b]ecause you never know who your doctor might be’.
Shipman, of course, murdered around 250 people. What larks. The ASA decided that the ad would cause ‘serious and widespread offence’ and told the company off for being total arseholes.
🤣 My round-up of the worst adverts of 2022
Well I did spend bloody ages writing it.
Goody Two-Shoes ball-potter Sean Murphy is ‘fuming’ after a seagull nicked the Terry’s Chocolate Orange he placed on a Llandudno hotel’s window ledge ‘to chill’.
The Magician had placed the spherical snack outside his room in order to chill it to perfection and enjoy upon his return from a first-round game at the Welsh Open.
But is he absolutely sure Dawn French wasn’t involved?
That’s it for this week. If you enjoyed this lease send it someone who mighy also enjoy it. Frankly even if you didn’t enjoy it I’d like you to send it someone – I’m not even that bothered if they don’t enjoy it.
Same time, next week. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and let me know which advert has reduced you to a pathetic, dribbling mess this week.