Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Olympic Advert Bingo

In celebration of the fact it's only about 100 days until the London 2012 Olympic games, I'd thought I treat all you faithful readers to a FREE gift! Below is a 'cut out and keep' Olympic Advert Bingo card, for you to print out and play 'Olympic Advert Bingo' FOR FREE in the long, laborious run up to the start of the games.


  1. Settle down in front of the television, and get your bingo card ready.
  2. When the adverts start, keep your eyes peeled to see whether any of the characteristics listed on the bingo card appear.
  3. If you find an advert with one of the characteristics, cross it off.
  4. Continue playing for the duration of the advert break.
  5. First person to get a row or a column gets a 'bingo', first person to get all ticked off wins a 'house'*!
  6. If no-one has a 'bingo' or 'house', continue the game into the next ad break
  7. Want to play again? Simply print off another bingo card and wait in front of the TV
So there you have it, a short, sweet blog post today; but an eternity of fun to be had. FOR FREE!

*Not a real house

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Advertising; or 'you can’t polish a turd, but some fancy editing can make it look like chocolate mousse'

Now adverts are rarely designed to be enjoyed. Their primary and only function is to convince us to lighten our wallets in exchange for some product. You can’t polish a turd, but some fancy editing can make it look like chocolate mousse. However, some adverts appear to have been designed to generate nothing but unadulterated hatred. Here, in no particular order, are five of the current worst offenders.

“The HTC One Freefall Fashion Shoot”

Being HTC is easy. All you need to do is make a phone that’s like an iPhone. But not an iPhone. Bingo. The marketing of said phone is also, not impossible. It should go something along these lines: “This phone is very much like an iPhone. It does all that crap the iPhone can do. But it’s cheaper. And you don’t have to sell your soul to Apple; just Google”. Easy.

But this is what they come up with. What a minute of hatred. Look at this pretentious prick taking photos of a woman who appears to have been caught in an explosion in a mirror factory. But fuck me, he’s doing it whilst falling from an airborne vehicle. And he’s taking photos of the human mirrorball on his mobile. So, if I want a phone to use in my everyday quest of photographing people plummeting to earth; I should buy a HTC. If I want one that has apps that can check email, make fart noises or send text messages; I should get an iPhone. That’s the intended message. Right?

“HSBC TV ad -- Lemonade Hong Kong Dollar”

Banks have had a hard time recently. After being blamed for the recession, who could blame them for wanting to present a more human face. SO LET’S USE A HUMAN. A REAL HUMAN GIRL. Which would be fine; apart from the fact that this girl has all the charm of an Ikea bookcase. The ruthlessness in business she demonstrates indicates to me in 30 years time she’ll be the CEO of United Tobacco and Landmines. The theme of the ad is the ease of globalisation, cunningly demonstrated through her ruthless fleecing of foreign tourists. That’s the spirit of global co-operation.

“Sensodyne Advert - Dr. Mark Hughes”

Science is wonderful. Unless you see it on an advert. To marketing men, science is no more than a bunch of buzzwords and complicated images that make it look like ‘something’ is happening rather than ‘not much’; which is usually the reality. “Novamin” sounds rather less than a magic tooth repairing enzyme thing; and more like a tatty cruise ship. Sensodyne decide to up the all-round debauchery of science by having a dentist talk to a shakey mobile phone camera (not a HTC One X as he’s not currently hurtling towards terra firma), before a fantastic stat informs us ‘9 out of 10 dentists recommend Sensodyne’. I wonder what that one dentist who didn’t recommend toothpaste would offer us instead. Toilet duck? Brillo pads? Canesten?

“Walls Talking Dog - New Sausage Roll Advert 2011 - "Garage"”

“He can’t really express himself, cos he’s just a bloke really”. What a phrase. The fact that this ‘bloke’ is the kind of guy who gets emotional at eating into cylindrical portion of meat-flavoured carcass engulfed in a layer of ‘brown’ is one thing; but to then make the viewer endure this ecstasy-induced nightmare of a teeny-tiny ugly dog playing a keyboard, singing about the joys of sausage rolls and the inability of anyone with a Y chromosome to express joy even at the prospect of garage-bought toilet fodder is just insulting. File it under the new category of ‘adverts for people who gather their knowledge of current affairs from what the Page 3 girls say'. Which appears to be an increasing section of the public.

“adidas presents Take the Stage: all 2012”

The pride. The glory. The sporting moments that will linger in the collective memories of the world, created on our doorstep. These are all things that this advert left me hating. The Olympics are something we should look forward to (and I am, you may be surprised to hear). However, adverts like this one are doing their damn hardest to ruin it before it’s even begun. Throw together a veritable smorgasbord of ‘of the moment’ celebrities into the same situation. Get one of them to make a fairly unlistenable 60 second soundtrack, whilst adding in the token ‘celebrity over the age of 30’ to try and appeal beyond the target audience of consumers aged between 15 years old and 15 years old. End with a rooftop party that only happens in these loud, neon enhanced advirtual worlds to complete the unlikeability. If this is a taste of the kind of turgid rubbish we have to sit through that is vaguely linked to the Olympics, I’m glad we’ll never host another major sporting event. Let Qatar have the World Cup, so long as they take our adverts as well.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

FourZeroFourSix's guide to the multiplex, Part I: Bay-esque Explodathons

This blog post marks the beginning of a new series on FourZeroFourSix looking at the state of present-day cinema. To give you a flavour of what to expect, I was planning on calling the series ‘Aren’t Almost All Modern Movies Absolutely Shit’. First of all, lets carve up the corpse of the genre of film that will henceforth be known as ‘Michael Bay-esque Explodathons’.

If you’re not familiar with Michael Bay, you’ll certainly be familiar with his work. He’s the name behind Armageddon, Pearl Harbour, Bad Boys and, most notably (for us, anyway) the Transformers series. I must point out, I do enjoy Armageddon, and Bay is not an all-round awful film-person; but he has a bombastic style of explosions, loud noises, over-reliance on CGI and convoluted storylines which have influenced a whole modern genre of film. Looking at the film listings for this week (April 2012), and his influence can be seen in films such as ‘Battleship’, ‘Wrath of the Titans’, ‘John Carter’, and even the ‘half-term wallet emptier’ Journey 2. But what exactly do these films have in common.

We don't dislike you Michael. Just your contribution to film.

First; and a recent development that isn’t exclusive to just ‘Bay-esque Explodathons; is a slavish devotion to large scale special effects, especially CGI. Whether it’s animating a large space pebble gliding through the cosmos, a very large aquatic vehicle or a bunch of oversized Hasbro toys that change from cars into inelegant destructive robots from out of space; these films feature special effects at the expense of other facets of films, such as character development, or plot. Now, in the ‘olden days’; films could get away with spectacular special effects and nothing else, as the standard of special effects was generally a man moving a toy around in front of a black table cloth. But now, special effects and computer imagery are taken for granted (partially due to the rise in ‘Bay-esque’ movies), so audiences expect (and demand) more than just impressive special effects. But yet, these films don’t offer much more.

You can CGI a huge man on fire, but your fancy computer trickery can't implant a storyline.

The next common feature is, in general, a lack of originality. Look at the list of ‘Bay-esque’ movies currently showing. We have 2 sequels, a film based on a book and a film based on a game sold by Woolworths for £2.99 back in the day. And, even the two sequels are based on films based on popular stories. Transformers, of course, are based on the inane toys released when Reagan and nuclear Armageddon was all the rage. Comic books (Iron Man, 300, Thor), and theme park rides (Pirates of the Caribbean merits a place here purely for the barrel scraping desperation of the later films) are a common source other films that I’d classify as ‘Bay-esque’. This doesn’t mean that Bay-esque films can’t be original. Far from it, in fact, and the worst films of the genre (i.e. 2012) are original ideas. It seems basing your Bay-esque film on existing source material allows the scope for creating a car-crash of a storyline; at worst creating a mediocre hash of a popular cultural text; and at best making the storyline hard to find in amongst the film.

"I've got an idea for a film. It might seem a little 'out-there', but stick with me..."

Thirdly, bizarre celebrity casting is fairly common. As the storyline; and subsequently, characters; are peripheral concerns at best, this means you can cast anyone in your film. This opens the door for celebrities galore to inhabit roles they couldn’t get in other films that have any of that ‘character development’ crap. Take Rihanna in the forthcoming Battleship. What the hell? Rihanna? Rihanna? Was she cast on her ability to play or suitability for the role? Or was she cast because she’s Rihanna. A maybe controversial statement, but is Dwayne Johnson cast because he’s Dwayne Johnson (the action actor), or because he’s still seen as ‘The Rock’ (you could argue that he is now a successful actor, but his debut in the Scorpion King is harder to justify). Of course, having a celebrity in is a brilliant idea, as it attracts the fans of said celebrity to see the movie, SIMPLY to see their favourite star. I look forward to when ‘One Direction’ fans flock to see the boys in ‘MULTIPLE EXPLOSION LOUD NOISE MONSTER FILM IN ANCIENT TIMES BUT IN SPACE’.

Bay-esque films have flooded the film market in the manner similar to a blocked toilet. Most modern action, sci-fi, ‘historical venture’ and even family adventure films owe an unfortunate debt of gratitude to Bay-esque films. Bay-esque films, despite being as critically well received as a 4 hour celluloid ode to sewage, mostly do very well at the box-office, hence why studios will continue funding them. They’re expensive to make, but boy, do they make the money back. However, the complete and utter failure of John Carter might be a sign that cinema-goers are growing tired of the formulaic blandness of ‘Bay-esque’ movies. 

We can only hope, as it’s only a matter of time before someone decides to remake Blade Runner, with Deckard (played by Taylor Lautner) battling a 40 foot tall Roy Batty (Michael ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino), on the moon, whilst trying to win the love of the replicant Nicki Minaj (played by Nicki Minaj) backed by Nickelback.