Monday 23 February 2009

Is that a nicotine inhaler or a sin of the flesh?

The first line of the leaflet that comes with my ESB bill tells me that the Commission for Energy Regulation has approved an average price decrease of 0.6%.
Yippee, I think, maybe.
But hang on a mo. Oh blimey, they’re messing with my mind, momma! Their mad doublespeak ways are sending me Loco di Laurentis in the noodle.
Below the initial good news comes swathes of bullshit tidied into thrusting red bullet points... ‘proceeds from sale of certain ESB generating plants’... blah blah blah... ‘an increase of 2.7% in electricity unit charges’... blah blah blah... ‘identified on your bill as a ‘PSO related rebate’... blah blah blah, and somehow you know that at the end of all this crap, that lovely young price drop will have turned into a lumpy old brute of a price increase.
Sure enough, the price of the domestic 24 hour rate has gone up from €0.1597 to €0.1640, and the NightSaver Day rate (pure doublespeak itself!) has risen from €0.1706 to €0.1752.
That’s all I needed to know. I’m just a punter on the ground here, trying to work out how much I owe and how much I earn. If I was making a take-over bid for ESB, I might need to know more, but I’m not and I don’t.
Do they think we’re stupid? Don’t go telling us that prices are going down if really they’re going up, PSO related rebate or no PSO related rebate.
Off I go to Hibernian Aviva to renew my car insurance. Despite the fact that I’ve made no claims since Noah let go of the dove, my premium’s still somehow gone up over last year.
“Oh yes, insurance is up across the board,” explains the helpful Hibernian lady.
I point out that maybe just maybe my premium had gone up because Hibernian had spent billions hiring Bruce Willis, Ringo Star and any other celebrities they could find who had changed their names to appear in a massive TV ad campaign to share the tumultuous news that Hibernian was changing its name to Aviva Hibernian. Or is it Hibernian Aviva?
Why stop there? Why not get the Pope and Postman Pat? We all know that Pope hasn’t always been his real name, just like we know he’s not allergic to a little bit of rewriting history. As for Postman Pat, not many people know this, but the wholly fictional animated character’s real name is Bernard. His middle name is Padraig, from his mother’s side, and he uses it to show us all he’s a good lad who loves his mummy.
We’re not stupid. We know Hibernian isn’t really a bunch of hearty lads sporting crazy curly beards in rough knit jerseys sitting in a crusty bog house on the West Coast, trying to insure their mates’ fishing boats. We know that it’s part of a multinational conglomerate, because sadly, corporate styling works, and look, see, the Norwich Union have the same brand colours.
All they needed to do was to send one simple card through the post to existing customers saying they had changed their name. Maybe even an email.
But not this ridiculous TV campaign, which I’m now paying for on my car insurance. I don’t want to sponsor their commercials. This adbreak spectacular starring a whole bunch ageing overpriced A-listers comes to you thanks to Charlie’s Premium, because he’s a customer who really cares that you know the right name for us.
Meanwhile Chorus aka UPC aka ntl clearly want to dump the entire concept of basic cable and turn us all onto digital. When I signed up for the basic package it cost €19.99, but ntl have gradually upped the price to one euro less than the digital package, and if we upgrade they’ll throw in a digital video recorder free of charge. Oh, and they’ll send Mary round to do the dishes three times a week, and Jim will pop over on the last Thursday of the month to tidy up the garden a bit and do any odd jobs, d’ya know the kind of thing.
Thanks ntl, but I am not stupid. The basic cable is no longer good value for money, so yes, for the sake of quality channels like Film 4, BBC 3 and 4, I probably will fork out the other quid and upgrade, thereby ending up with reams of mindless channels I don’t want, never did want, but will absolutely inevitably become distracted by and end up watching, telling myself I am fascinated by their inanity, that I’m not really dumbing down, but watching all this shite as a socially anthropological experiment oh look the donkey ate the ice cream ahh, thus naturally missing the excellent movie on Film 4 or the fascinating documentary on BBC3.
Meanwhile, Hibernian Die Hard Aviva are moving in for the kill. I don’t qualify for their ‘Match More Make More’ offer, because even though my car and health insurance is with them, I insure the house contents with Quinn, because they offer cover for rentals, which Hibernian Indiana Jones and the Fabulous Four Aviva do not.
But that doesn’t stop them. All I really want in the mail is my health insurance membership cards, but instead I’m bombarded with letter after letter about their wonderful ‘Match More Make More’ offer, if only we’d please register for it online, pretty please with a cherry on top.
But I don’t qualify, so there is no bloody point. Then I find a message on my mobile from someone in Aviva Rocky Meets The Parents Hibernian asking me to register online for the offer.
I call them and tell them what they can do with their offer and will they please stop stalking me.
Doublespeak drives me mad. There’s the petrol that’s ‘better for the environment’, rather than just ‘less bad’, and now, in the best doublespeak I’ve ever heard, there’s a Nicorette ad on TV offering ‘a therapeutic dose of nicotine’.
Working on the premise that anything which makes you feel better is ‘therapeutic’:
‘This isn’t an ordinary syringe. This is a sanitised hypodermic syringe. This isn’t just heroin. This is a top grade therapeutic dose of Afghanistan’s finest.....’
But my absolute favourite is the voiceover for the Nicorette Inhaler ad:
“Satisfies your urges, and keeps your hands busy.”
It had to happen: if you leave 24 advertising agency monkeys alone for long enough, they’re bound to come up with a replacement for masturbation!

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