Calm down, dear! Winner was a loser, but now Jamie takes the prize for worst ad

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The Independent Online

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and former Atomic Kitten Kerry Katona will be among the "winners" in a list of the most irritating adverts of 2006, to be published this week.

The pair feature prominently among household names and brands of shame in this year's top 20 most annoying TV ads.

The outright winner is a cringe-making commercial for InjuryLawyers4U, the personal injury consortium, which features a cheesy courtroom cross-examination. This is closely followed by toe-curling efforts for household cleaner Cillit Bang and car insurer Sheilas' Wheels.

Also among this year's advertising irritations are Katona's much derided efforts for Iceland, the frozen-food store, and Oliver's campaign for the supermarket chain Sainsbury's. This included his recent Dickens-themed Christmas offering, which was actively disliked by 25 per cent of those questioned by the market research company TNS.

Other aggravating adverts include one for Picture Loans, which sees a man securing a telephone loan while his partner, inexplicably, films proceedings on a camcorder, and another for the indigestion remedy Gaviscon, which features a female policewoman with heartburn suddenly able to breakdance and direct traffic to the tune of "Flashdance".

The annual survey, to be published in Marketing magazine, has featured some memorably bothersome former winners over recent years. These include a purple-bearded Billy Connolly trying to rebrand the National Lottery as the Lotto, John Cleese's booming efforts for Sainsbury's and Michael Winner's appearance for Esure, the insurance company, uttering the immortal words: "Calm down, dear, it's only a commercial."

Marketing editor Craig Smith said that, contrary to popular belief, a lot of advertisers now see the annual list of irritating ads as a mark of success.

"Three or four years ago, advertising agencies would be embarrassed by this tag, but now they wouldn't bat an eyelid at being called distasteful," Mr Smith said. "Irritating ads are a bit like spoonfuls of foul-tasting medicine - they may leave a sour taste in the mouth [but] people remember them - and act on them."

If anything, the survey reinforces the fact that hiring a celebrity is not a sure-fire quick fix in adland. Katona and Oliver join a long list of celebrities to enter the hall of shame since its inauguration 16 years ago. These include Samuel L Jackson for Barclays, Claudia Schiffer for Citroën, Carol Vorderman for Benecol and the former England striker Ian Wright for Chicken Tonight.