Remember those creepy Budget Direct ads, the ones with the laconic old guy and his young French paramour (“Budget, luv, Budget”)? Right off the bat they had me wondering: are they a couple? Surely not! And if so, ewww! The first ad, the one with the bicycles, was merely flirtatious. The second, playing pool together in snazzy threads, hinted at more. It was the third, in a steamy bathroom, that dispelled all doubt; he shaving in a dressing gown, she shampooing and cooing in the shower: “Booojet Booojet, Booojet Booojet”. “Budget, luv,” he replies. “Budget Direct Car Insurance.”

Hah! Hilarious, right?

As for that crazy dance hit Gangnam Style, the one with the Korean rapper and a cast of booty shakers; ads can only dream of such impact. It’s the classic song worm, a tune so wily, so manufactured, so damn catchy that I sing it to this day and hate myself for it: “EH, SEXY LADY, EH, EH, EH, OPPAN GANGHAM STYLE”

Anyway, on Tuesday, Budget Direct met Gangnan Style in the family change room at Eltham Leisure Centre, performed by Max, Sam and their buddy, Taj, under the shower. “Booojet Booojet” they sang, pretending to lather, before launching into a bouncy rap, “Oppan Gangnam Style” and back again: “Booojet Booojet, Oppan Gangnam Style, Booojet Booojet, Oppan Gangnam Style.”

It was the shower scene from Psy …

You don’t know ‘creepy’ until you’ve watched five year-olds mimic Gallic temptresses and weighty 35 year-old Asian rappers. Starkers! I was dumbstruck. But it’s the out-of-nowhere appearance of that Budget jingle, a commercial they can’t have seen on ABC 3, that threw me most. When and where did they hear it, given Budget retired it ages ago, replacing Michael and Michéle with Zeek and Zia, their super intelligent alien neighbours? (I’m serious, you can’t make this cocaine fuelled stuff up).

I’ve been wondering a lot this week; do advertisements hibernate in kids’ brains, and how damaging can they be; which in turn has me wondering; is it time I got a job and stopped wondering about such stuff?

I wonder…

Even today, in 2013, the eggs of 1970s ‘ad worms’ hatch in my brain and pour out like burps: “Simon, Tahiti”. “’Ave a good weekend”. “Mrs Marsh, it does get in”. “Trust British Paints, ba-da ba, sure can”. Is Max and Sam’s Budget Direct ad my Louie the Fly, their Gangham Style my Car Wash? Perhaps. And yet I’d never have stripped off in front of dad to sing “One spray and Louie the Fly is AT THE CAR WASH Wooh, AT THE CAR WASH, Yeah….”

He’d have flipped.

I don’t watch television, so I’ve no idea what commercials are doing the rounds. But I do tune to 3AW, home to the most inane, mind numbing, moronic advertisements imaginable. This poses a problem, for while Ross and John crack me up in the morning, Sports Today is my nightly mass and that sanctimonious reactionary, Neil Mitchell, keeps my enemies close, breaks are peppered with crap like  “Frank Walker from National Tiiiiiiiiiiiiles”, “Go Harvey Go”, The Draaaain Maaaaan”, and that infernal “Blind Factoreeeeeeee”. Hardly Sterling Cooper.

Still, when I think tiles and televisions, blocked drains and drapes, those four companies instantly spring to mind; proof that while fingernails on blackboards mightn’t be pleasant, they at least grab your attention. So, while it’s tempting to lynch the ad execs behind such dumbing down, they’re probably lauded in a game measured ultimately in ‘units shifted’.

I blame that bastard Saba furniture ad in the mid-1980s, the one with the little snot rag who gushed, “Don’t say Baa Baa, say Saaaaba”. It was shit advertising’s nadir: take a precocious kid, get him to stretch the bejeezus out of a company name, throw in a pair of cockatoos and voila. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PdWyYrU_B0

Punters flocked to the joint, partly to ape the catchcry at the source, partly to see Dave and Mabel, whose mock kidnapping only added to sales. “F#@king GOLD,” reads one Saba-related tweet I stumbled across. “Biggest catch phrase in Aussie marketing history. That kid should be knighted and get free beer for the rest of his life. I’ll gladly track him down just so I can high five his rad self.” (Rad, alright! By campaign’s end, “Saaaaaaaaba” was so long, the kid’s face almost turned blue).

Believe it or not, similar praise exists online for Frank Walker, who once simply introduced himself on radio as chief of “National Tiles”. Today, he does free dive intensives to prepare the lungs for his drawn out “tiiiiiiiiiiiles”).

More power to you, Frank; but I don’t want your imbecilic commercial to seed in my sons’ brains, so that when they’re in the market for tiling products, they instinctively land on your doorstep. Similarly, when the summer sun calls for shade, I don’t want them to blindly think ‘Blind Factory’ like I do Mortein every time a fly buzzes past.

I’m loath to think of them being hotwired so young by an industry I distrust (and even more scared of what jingle they might marry to Gangnam Style in future….)

Still, the sad fact is we all have to promote ourselves somehow. It’s the world we live in. With that in mind, stay tuned for the next instalment from “Stephen McKenzieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, Photo Journaliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiist”.

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