Bob Jones: Shrill TV ads a tactic worthy of guillotine

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Executives who inflict such ghastliness on viewers should be put to the flame - or, to be kind, beheaded.

Mr Kenneth certainly didn't exaggerate when he described the Harvey Norman ads as an assault on him in his own home, says Jones. Photo / Glenn Taylor
Mr Kenneth certainly didn't exaggerate when he described the Harvey Norman ads as an assault on him in his own home, says Jones. Photo / Glenn Taylor

Many years ago, having temporarily lost leave of my senses, I was on the board of Radio New Zealand, an appalling waste of my time which swore me off directorships forever.

One of the regular items in the monthly board papers were the complainants list, all nutty late middle-aged men, whining about trivia. Somebody had said "bugger" or mentioned beer - that sort of thing. In vain I would beg the then CEO, Beverley Wakem (now fittingly Dame Beverley), to let me reply to these lunatics and she would shudder at the prospect.

Still, wearing my director's hat, I was occasionally able to deliver these woeful types a good kicking beyond the boardroom. For example, once when an obsessive letter-to-the-editor nutter wrote to Wellington's newspaper asking whether anyone could tell him why he sometime receives static when listening to Radio NZ, I replied through the newspaper saying that as a Radio NZ director, I am your man and I can tell you.

I wrote that at great expense, we have imported sophisticated technology from Germany enabling us to target solely your radio and I'm delighted to hear that it's working.

Ironically, Beverley's fulltime job now is Chief Ombudsman, that is dealing solely with complaints, although in fairness, many, if not most are legitimate to that worthy organisation.

I thought about all of this recently when I read that a C. Kenneth had had his complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority rejected, apparently it being beyond their jurisdiction. Mr Kenneth - undoubtedly he's a male, as complainants to such authorities nearly always are - is not, however, your standard, grizzling-about-trivia nutter. To the contrary, he spoke for everyone in Australia and NZ when he protested about the offensive Harvey Norman TV advertisements inflicted on us all in recent years.

They're ubiquitous, on TVNZ, TV3 and Sky, and on all programmes, every few minutes, in both countries. Abruptly the peace is shattered by a screaming hysterical male voice, gabbling at 200 words a minute about current bargains.

Mr Kenneth certainly didn't exaggerate when he described them as an assault on him in his own home, for that indeed is exactly what they are. When I'm watching TV, I sit holding the remote, my finger on the mute button, ready to kill the audio when these assaults are sprung on us.

The owner of that gabbling voice ought to be publicly burnt at the stake, an event which would draw tens of thousands of TV viewers seeking compensatory revenge for their suffering, and it would be only fair if Mr Kenneth was allowed the honour of lighting the faggots, notwithstanding that such an entitlement could yield tens of thousands of dollars to charity if auctioned off.

Actually, to make it a decent day's outing, the chairman, directors and management of Harvey Norman should also be put to the flame, which considering the horror they're inflicting, is letting them off very lightly indeed. Put this moderation down to me getting soft in my old age.

Mind you, if this lot found this prospect upsetting, then out of humanity we could scrub burning them at the stake and substitute beheading - after all, plainly they don't need their heads.

Recently I received a letter from Sir Stephen Tindall in the course of which he happened to mention The Warehouse's recent take-over of Noel Leeming. Sadly, of late that company has decided to emulate Harvey Norman with identical shrieking 200-word-a-minute TV advertising. I suggested to Stephen that he ought to put a stop to this ghastliness and he replied promptly, advising he had spoken to the company's CEO.

He assured me that I, and the rest of the viewing public, will no longer have cause for complaint. Given that quick action, it's easy to see why Stephen has been such a phenomenal success with The Warehouse, specifically that he is ultra-sensitive to his public.


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