Donald MacInnes: It's not only Wonga's puppets, real people do my nut in as well


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The Independent Online

For some people it's Barry Scott squirting warm jets of Cillit Bang as though it's liquid happiness. Possibly it's the curiously shrill-voiced Mo Farah jogging through the Arizona badlands while evangelising about pretend mince. (Fans of actual mince have, in the past, been confronted by Jamie Oliver and his pulsating, fat tongue urging us to stock up in Sainsbury's.)

Personally, I have a whole compendium of advertising spokespeople who I will not allow to appear on my television screen; famous corporate shills who make me want to buy a chainsaw and use it with gusto in some moronic London creative agency, where everyone's beard is enormously luxurious and their rolled up jeans just a touch too skinny.

This week's news that Wonga is going to do away with its rubber octogenarians is welcome. I detest those latex goblins, with their inappropriate bawdiness and leering visages. Apparently Andy Haste, the new chairman of Wonga, feels the squishy-faced characters, who are known as Betty, Earl and Joyce, are too entertaining for children, given that the company they represent offers payday loans with APRs in the billions. Entertaining to children?! I find these turkey-necked, glassy-eyed gargoyles utterly upsetting. Especially when Earl tries to do some sexy dancing or the old biddies compare notes on how fit or otherwise they find him. Ugh.

Of course, it doesn't have to be unsettlingly lascivious puppets. Real people do my nut in as well. And they don't even need to be on screen. Even the voice can be enough to make me run screaming. And it may surprise you to know that it's the financially-reassuring Scottish brogue of John Hannah which transforms me into a snarling wolverine.

Next time you see one of his Direct Line adverts (you probably won't have to wait longer than three or four seconds … honestly, how much do these people spend on their marketing?), listen to the vocal intonation Hannah uses. It's a sing-song cadence … in which the end of the first sentence rises to a crescendo … before dropping into what I like to call the Jeremy Clarkson trough of authority.

And just why do they keep using Scots in financial adverts? As has been reiterated in these pages over the past two and a half years, my economic acumen has a mental age of four, so irrespective of how deep, masculine and heather-scented my accent, I still wouldn't take financial advice from me. In fact, I would avoid me like the plague.

Anyway, no matter how famous I got, I would never, ever do an advert. I prefer the stance of the late Bill Hicks, who said: "You do a commercial, you're off the artistic roll call, forever … If you do a commercial, everything you say is suspect, and every word that comes out of your mouth is now like a t**d falling into my drink."

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