Thursday, October 26, 2006

Talk To Frank, and other misguided bollocks

Every few months the British government comes up with an advertising campaign to change some aspect of our society for the better. These ads are almost exclusively to do with alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or sexual awareness.

All well and good, you might say. And I would agree with you.

Rightly, too, these ads are supposed to be hard-hitting, no punches pulled, because that's the only way to get the message through to people. Again, I concur.

The reality, though, is that these campaigns are fucking shit. Remember back in the '80s we had the big AIDS campaign. Anyone in the UK of about my age (mid-30s) and older will remember these ads. While they weren't hard-hitting as such, they were foreboding. They looked like some time and thought had gone into scaring people into safe sex. And I'm certain they worked. For a time. I recently saw some startling figures that revealed HIV/AIDS cases among teenagers and 20-somethings are on the increase again, as a result of less public information. This is a really terrible state of affairs.

But maybe they'll do a "hard-hitting" ad like this one, from the Talk To Frank campaign:

or this one, which warns against overdoing it on the alcohol:

Come on, do me a fucking favour. Who are we kidding with this shit? Are people really stupid enough to believe this stuff is hard-hitting? Kids of 12 years old are getting pregnant in this country. Children are stabbing and kicking their schoolmates to death. This is a nation growing up seeing news stories about toddlers getting taken from their own bathroom and being raped before being dumped in an alley.

Wake up, you dumb governmental cunts, and smell the coffee -- and not that decaff shit you're obviously drinking. Some bint dancing around in a playground does not a hard-hitting ad make. Fuck's sake.


Blogger Tanya said...

It seems to me that a large degree of common sense is either lacking amongst the general population or that the government takes the view that its people are stupid.

I agree that hard hitting campaigns are needed.

The most annoying thing I have seen are those "Frank" ads with that horrid child jumping on beds and asking, "How long will you feel like that for?" Hell, if I spotted a kid peering over me while I was in the bog, apparently snorting some cocaine I'd freak out!

I don't think these ads are targeted properly and I don't think they hit where it hurts. I also agree that there are other issues in the UK that seem be ignored, as you mentioned.

26 October, 2006 10:26  
Blogger Suze said...

I agree totally we take the same soft approach to crime and punishment here too.

All that aside I must admit that I was freaked by the drink drive one where she runs in to the bar the first time I saw it.

We need to show people what can really happen with hard hitting images and reality.

26 October, 2006 12:19  
Blogger Red said...

One of the worst ones for me was the one with people hugging and making out in the street because they had taken ecstasy. It was like, "Right, where do I get my hands on some?" rather than hard-hittingly offputting.

26 October, 2006 14:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, to tell you honestly, the warning against alcohol ad kind of scared me a bit. hehehe.
the first one was really soft, not at all worthy of a recall.
you should watch this nickelodeon ad: (sorry, i can't find it on YouTube.)
it freaked me out the first time I saw it. it goes like this: there's this guy (around his late-30s) who keeps trying to pass of as a 12-year old. he wears this little raincoat, brings a lunchbox, goes to school, wears a costume like a kid on a party--the works! the commerical looks innocent enough, while the guy keeps asking "how about now?" everytime he dresses up like a kid, wanting to know if he looks like one. (he smiles a bit creepily, too.)
the part that freaked me out was, the last frames of the ad was centered on this computer screen, wherein the guy (not seen) typed:

"how about now? :)"

to this 12-year old girl he was chatting with who didn't have a clue that the person she was talking to was a 30-year old guy, most probably a pedophile.

i swear it really freaked me out.

hahaha. anyway, yeah, that's it. just wanted to share. i consider that a hard-hitting ad.


26 October, 2006 15:02  
Blogger Yasamin said...

here in the US we have the TRUTH campaigne. some of it is plain stupid some of it will scare the living shit out of you.

maybe they should show the uglier sides of it.

out here they have families of teens killed by drunk drivers. crime scene photos and such. its like holy shit. you kinda stare at the tv for a moment before you crack open the bottle of jim bean :p

26 October, 2006 15:44  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

i can't watch the videos right now because i'm at work, and for some reason my speakers haven't been working. but i'll watch when i get home...

but i did want to say, i agree. people are so afraid of stepping on people's toes... and the world's getting worse and worse. it's funny, as the whole idea of political correctness and 'let's not hurt anyone's feelings' spreads and takes over... society is getting away with more and more.

when did we all become so easily offended, anyway?

26 October, 2006 17:16  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

The second ad I found disturbing because falling frightens me, not heights, falling. But it was when we see the fallen guy with his eyes opne that really scared me.

The first ad is enought o work like so many anti-campaigns like REd said, and make me wanna run out and behave badly. Anti-smoking ads make me want to smoke.

I think the first ad and anti-drug commercials should show a trail of where and how drug money is spent, who profits and who risks their life muling the drugs. Seeing Taliban growing heroin, seeing motorcycle mafias forcing women to be addicted to drugs and be sex slaves might be more effective on one's spending.

26 October, 2006 17:18  
Blogger Life, or Something Like It said...

I actually liked the 2nd commercial...It was a bit scary.
I haven't seen a TV commercial in ages here in Canada, about sex, drugs or drinking...Except for the one where the guy gives a girl a gift..the same gift that his ex girlfriend gave to him...Turns out it's an STD. My favourite.

26 October, 2006 20:32  
Blogger ems said...

Guessing the ads would have absolutely no impact on my darlings.

Having said that I do get annoyed about the blanket statements about teenage violence. Stabbings etc grab the headlines but when you look at the number of kids in school and then compare to the number of fatal incidents...very, very few.

26 October, 2006 21:43  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Tanya: Some have their good moments, like the one with the guys in a bar that Suze mentioned, but most are really weak, like the Frank ones. You're absolutely right about the population lacking common sense, though.

Suze: Definitely we need something that really is hard hitting. Something that'll make people go, "Fuck me, that was a surprise!" I was like that a bit the first time I saw that ad in the bar you mentioned.

Red: I know! Talk about a great sales pitch!

27 October, 2006 08:22  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Erika: I've seen something similar to that here, and sure it was creepy, but it could have been harder-hitting. I guess it sort of suited its time slot and the target audience, though.

Yasamin: I'd be interested in seeing some of those. I'll have a look on YouTube maybe. Because I can hardly believe that the US, with its stringest TV regs, will show harder-hitting campaigns that the UK. Weird.

Martha: You're absolutely right: in these times of ever-increasing personal violence and global aggressions, isn't it strange how we're all so much in need of protection from disagreeable imagery.

27 October, 2006 08:26  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Candy: Yeah, the eye bit is okay, cos you know the dude ain't dead but is gonna spend his life in a wheelchair paralyzed from the neck down. Twat.

LOSLI: Your STD ad sounds funny.

Ems: You're right about those blanket statements. But they are there to serve a purpose. People always say, "Oh, this stuff has always been happening, but it just gets reported more nowaday." And to some extent I've always bought into that. But there must come a point when you say that's government cover-up bullshit, trying to tell us that society is not falling apart. But it is. We all live in society, and it's a fucking mess. The stuff I mentioned is just the tip of the iceberg. It might not be happening in every schoolyard or in every small town, but it's happening. I live in a small Kentish "new town". One evening in the height of summer, a teenage schoolboy was kicked to death by two of his peers. This is not normal behaviour and should never be tolerated as such. And if the headlines serve to drive that message home, then so much the better.

27 October, 2006 08:33  
Blogger ems said...

* I certainly would never say that just because something has always happened (which it has) it makes it acceptable. These behaviours are not acceptable whether displayed by teenagers or adults. The questions we need to be asking are: do we as a society value life? Do we as a society value the most vulnerable members of that society? I'd say the answer to both is no - there's your problem.

27 October, 2006 09:21  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Ems: Ah, the old "it's always happened" routine! I broadly agree, of course: I've heard many tales of the sort of thing my own father used to get up to, involving bike chains and kicking the shit out of RAF boys etc. But I do believe all of this stuff is happening at a younger and younger age. Couple that with your two questions, to which I also agree the answers are no, and you certainly have a problem -- that is, that kids at a younger age are learning that life has no value. Now, there's a nice life lesson.

27 October, 2006 09:54  
Anonymous cappy said...

frank? knows nowt. they tell you to ring and ask any questions you have about drugs, i rang and asked where i could buy some good speed in't tarn. they weren't amused.

and yes, the AIDS ones were damn scary, and not just cos of ian dury!

27 October, 2006 11:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate my fucking government too.

27 October, 2006 12:29  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Cappy: Frank knows Nowt? What, me? Oh, the other nowt... Yes. He's a cunt, is what he is. I like the question you put to him!

Lee: Quite right. We have a duty to hate our governments, I think, and to challenge anything they do.

27 October, 2006 14:09  
Blogger Kate said...

Yes, those anti-AIDS ads were effective. They had this dark, menacing feel that kind of stuck with you.

I'm not keen on that drink-driving ad which shows a little girl getting hit by a car, dying and then coming back to life - the way her joints creak gives me the jitters.

ps: scariest ad of all time - the PIF from the 70s with the hooded figure which goes around looking for kids to drown.

27 October, 2006 16:23  
Blogger Red said...

I don't think that ad with the broken-boned girl is about drinking and driving. Isn't it just, "Kill your speed, not a child"? Which then begs the question: Do you want me to slow to a fucking crawl in case some idiot child decides she wants to cross the road without looking? Where are the adverts teaching children to look both ways before rossing the road?

27 October, 2006 16:49  
Blogger Red said...

Crossing it, even.

27 October, 2006 16:49  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Bring back Dave Prowse!

27 October, 2006 16:52  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

okay, was finally able to watch the videos... and oh my gosh. how ridiculous! especially that first one. it's awful! with the cheerful little song and the girl running around looking like she's trying to find her puppy.

the second on was a little more powerful... but still so ridiculous in the beginning that it kind of eliminated any effect it might have otherwise.

27 October, 2006 16:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 9th grade health class our teacher showed us photos of 2 ladies. One was old, tired, wrinkled, missing teeth and OLD, old old. The other was middle aged looking and like an ordinary mom. As it turned out,the two were the same age (50) only one of them (old lady) smoked her whole life. Truth or not, THAT left a big impression.

28 October, 2006 01:10  
Anonymous cappy said...

DAVE PROWSE? can barely walk these days, let alone get accross a road!

28 October, 2006 10:21  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Martha: That first one really is appalling, isn't it?! Ads in this series were really the main target of my bile; I just despise them, and I don't see what real purpose they serve.

Olives: Yeah, those are okay, those sorts of ads. Trouble is, I think we've moved into an era of it not being okay to scare the crap out of kids in the aim for greater good. Ridiculous, really.

Cappy: Yes, so I heard on Have I Got News For You. Shame.

28 October, 2006 13:41  

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