Advertising: The 2002 Advertising 'OSCARS'

Rhinos, poodles, sex bombs, poets, and the award that has gone to Pot

Every year, advertising agency people work themselves into a lather about my awards. Their wives are Botoxing weeks in advance, shoe-horning themselves into their Julien Macdonalds just for today. It's very 21st century, you see, very virtual. They can sit at home in Barnes and Barnsbury, Highgate and Hoxton, instead of eating rubber chicken with premium Cava at The Sandringham Grand. We celebrate the insiders' concerns; we recognise the important cultural threads that get lost in these vulgar awards dos.

The award in the first category, the eagerly contested Most Life-Enhancing Catch Phrase in a Commercial, just has to go to the Golden Wonder people for the sublime "Poodle in Your Pot Noodle". We keep coming back to Pot Noodle advertising, showering praise on it in an unhealthy, almost luvvie way, but there's no avoiding that it comes up with the goods. This particular Pot Noodle commercial was a spoof of those very down-class ambulance-chasing lawyers' ads (this one was for "Ewen Court"). A child horror, little Ashley from Staines, found poodle in his Pot Noodle and the whole family was very traumatised. It was glorious, restoring your faith in language. No dumbing-down here.

The next category, Most Spectacular Use of a Rhino, was a really close call but has to go to BT and this autumn's spectacular broadband introduction commercials. The rhino in question, looking utterly live and convincing, fell from the sky on to a car and squashed it. This ad also featured Jarvis Cocker dangling from a lamppost. It almost deserves an award for that too. The whole thing brought the Golden Age of 1987 strongly to mind with its "something's coming" confidence and glorious production values.

Judging the Best Use of Poetry in a TV Commercial award was really difficult because there was only one entry – from the Pru – and it was very good. A collection of "accessible" sentimental recent-ish poetry, with proper rhymes by rightly popular poets like Roger McGough and Fran Landesman, was set to simple but clever little films. The themes were old age, time and memory; the product was pension plans – the most boring, most vital, most topical subject imaginable. And somehow the combination worked, because the Pru is such a mainstay of British experience.

Best Introduction of a Formerly Taboo Subject was, as always, fiercely contested. Advertising folk long to be at the leading edge, bold as anything about farts or fellatio. Domestos Ox deserves an honourable mention for its arc of pee, but Greene King IPA, which is some kind of beer, really swung it with its hectically bold canine cunnilingus commercial. It's an old joke – blokes so keen on their beer, they can't be bothered with the babes – retold in a novel way. He's down the pub having another Greene King IPA. She's waiting at home hoping to spice up their sex life, Sun supplement style, by tying herself to the bedposts. And into the bedroom pads Rover, tongue hanging out, and soon she's screaming and crying and begging for more. I'm sorry, but we've all got to face up to these things.

There's no question about the Best Celebrity Bank Manager in a TV Commercial award. It's got to be Halifax and black, bespectacled Howard Brown from Sheldon, Birmingham, and his "Sex Bomb" routines. In a reworking of popular songs in spectacular settings, Howard – as wide as he's tall and cosy as anything – pitched the Halifax's sharply priced offers (it broke the tacit "don't compete on price" bankers' agreement) by flying across the world on a giant swan, swooping past the skyscraper offices of corporate America and diving with the dolphins. He was irresistible, miles better than those reality TV micro-celebrities like the camp Aeroflot man.

Our modish category innovation, the Best New Age Commercial award, goes to Persil and its tweety-bleepy, touchy-feely animated campaign for its new kind-to-skin version with aloe vera. The ad had nudity, androgyny and talking in tongues. It spoke of an infantile world where a magical green Persil makes everything feel soft and nice, where your washing grows on tropical bushes fed on Persil and everyone makes Teletubby baby noises. It was the first commercial to claim this territory.

The ever-popular Best Introduction of an Offensive Stereotype goes to Alive (a soft drink from Coca-Cola). It was the first commercial I've seen to feature the eastern European spiv/minor Mafia type. It was set in some crumbling Forward-with-the-People housing estate, meant to be Moscow or Minsk, but probably Hackney, with a couple of unlikely lads with Country and Western hats and sunspecs who peddle Alive out of the boot of their early Eighties Mercedes and do a very nice line in intimidating banter, just like the drug dealers at the sink-school gates. Dodgy eastern Europeans are part of British big city life now, but this was the first commercial to show them.

Finally, the Howler of the Year award just has to go to Mercedes and its 1950s Paris commercial. It was a pretty enough thing in a very video promo style, and borrowed heavily from Fifties films and fashion. It showed a – new – Mercedes gliding through the Paris of the Fifties, turning all heads: girls, kettles and fire hydrants all got excited by this lovely silvery steely vision. Off it went, past what looked like one side of the Place de la Concorde, through big ceremonial central Paris. It was a love thing, a fashion thing, a cute style Audrey thing. It was completely unfair to expect any 30-something creative film-maker to have the faintest grasp of history and of what the likely reactions of Parisians to a top-of-the-range Mercedes might have been in 1953.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

BI Analyst

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency in Central Lo...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride