Paul Casserly 's Opinion

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

Paul Casserly: Fighting TV ad vermin with vermin

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Paul Casserly surveys the most depressing and bad ads on TV and hails the lone mouse taking them on.

Keith Quinn. Photo/Brett Phibbs
Keith Quinn. Photo/Brett Phibbs

Some ads just make you sad.

I know it's the sign of the old fart to complain about adverts. But I'm complaining here on behalf of old farts, so I'm hoping that will de-fart me to some extent. Yes, some of them are TOO LOUD, although apparently they've been turned down a bit. Some of them annoy the bejesus out of me for no discernible reason. This is always a subjective thing. For instance even the sound of the Pak 'n Save stick-man irritates my bowl but I kind of like the crazy lady from Big Save Furniture. Also I have no problem with the Briscoes lady and her wig. I even miss Dave from Wendy's, who seems to have disappeared from our screens. And even though it's promoting what some refer to as 'the stupidity tax', the Lotto commercials, with the dog and creepy homeless guy, are still tremendously enjoyable. Mind you, having Nick Cave on your soundtrack never hurts.

Very few ads actually do us good. They are there to sell us things. That's a given, but one is, I believe doing ill. It's not evil - after all it's selling a legal product - but it's a bummer, a downer, a stink-buzz.

While watching those Keith Quinn fronted Cigna adverts in which people are encouraged to pay for their own funerals, in advance, I think of all the older viewers tuning in for some escapist entertainment.

There they are, possibly knitting some booties for a grandchild while they watch Masterchef, or tuning in to see who is up the duff on Packed To The Rafters, only to be hit in the chops with a reminder that screams: YOU WILL DIE SOON.

Not only do the ads remind them that the reaper is on the way, they also scream AND YOUR USELESS KIDS WILL HAVE TO PAY FOR YOU. No doubt the useless kids are terrible with money, and worse with organising anything. As you get older, everyone knows that if you want something done properly, you'll have to do it yourself. You can see how they work.

Perhaps we shouldn't be so focused on banning ads that are sexist, racist or that encourage people to drink like fishes before driving like chimps. Perhaps it's time to deal to the ads that are just plain downers? What terrible manners to bring up death in the middle of Downton Abbey. As the dowager would no doubt say, "How f**king rude."

I do wonder if today's elderly will be the last generation to fork out in advance for their own death? The late baby boomers, Gen X's and Y's are way too selfish for that carry on. We lack the martyr gene. Most of us begrudge having to pay back a student loan, let alone a credit card debt. You won't find us putting a brick in the cistern to save water during a drought. We didn't live through any wars or learn the art of putting money away for a rainy day. We don't darn socks. Pay for our own funeral, in advance, not likely.

The other ads that make me sad are the ones that encourage people to saddle themselves with debt.

These come from all manner of financial institutions, retail chains and peddlers of so called 'easy finance'. Battling this barrage of propaganda there is a lone mouse. It may be a losing battle but the Government is fighting vermin with vermin, thanks to their admirable Sorted campaign.

The latest installment, which encourages saving for a Vespa scooter rather than getting one on tick, is refreshing because it's honest and informative.

The message is simple: "When you save you don't pay interest, you earn in." So while, good music, great casting and hilarious scripts can bring us joy in the ad breaks, it's good to know that good old fashioned public service announcements can also make us smile. The mouse, god bless it, just wants us to have better life, the herd of hard sell elephants on the other hand, want us to sign it away.

A friend tells me I'm lucky being a man because "if you own a vagina the ad-breaks are a constant reminder of all the ways it can let you down."

Seven Sharp's buried treasures

The birth pangs of Seven Sharp have provided plenty of column inches over the past weeks. The ratings are being tracked on an almost forensic basis, all to a background chorus of axes being ground and in some cases buried between shoulder blades. For followers of media it's the sort of festive atmosphere that hasn't been seen since Holmes moved to Prime.

That show also had an interactive element, live uncensored texts scrolled across the screen. Comedy followed as did abuse. The problem then, as now, is that while you're reading what someone at home reckons about a given issue it's impossible to listen to the expert who's been wheeled onto the show to talk about it.

Here's a rather brilliant take on the curse of interactivity, from comic geniuses Mitchell and Webb, and here's a rather brilliant story from Seven Sharp's Brodie Kane that cleverly illustrates what Christchurch has lost since the quake. (Story starts at 1.45) In all the debate and babble about the show's style and format it's easy to forget that good stories are still to be found, even if they are hidden in the rubble.

Oh and this uplifting piece from Sunday a few weeks back deserves a mention. For once I agreed with the human emoticon, Miriama Kamo. Yes, it did make me want to cry just a little.

The Otara Overture tells the story of the creation of an orchestra of underprivileged kids in South Auckland. It's moving stuff, and comedic. As reporter Ian Sinclair delivers the stock "When you think of Otara, you think of the cliches like gangs, drugs, crime ..." two dudes pop up behind him making gang style hand gestures, one even unloads his imaginary handgun at the camera. Usually that type of photo bombing would be edited out but you couldn't plan something as perfect as this.

What ads make you feel sad? Is Seven Sharp getting better? Comment below.

Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

It began with Dr Who, in black and white, when it was actually scary. The addiction took hold with Chips, in colour. He made his mum knit a Starsky and Hutch cardigan. Later, Twin Peaks would blow what was left of his mind. He’s been working in radio and TV since the 1990s and has an award in his pool room for Eating Media Lunch.

Read more by Paul Casserly

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