Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Favorite British Commercials - Part I

These last few weeks, despite Ludovictus' being as active as ever, I've been spending a fair amount of time in front of the old tube. Luckily, there are lots of really amusing - and some amusingly cringe-worthy - commercials to keep my spirits up about my swelling hands and the rainy week. A lot of them are food-related, but some have, I think, um, deeper, err, "cultural" messages to impart.

Here are a few of my favorites (some of them truly love-hate) in the form of a two-part top ten. To me, if they were a cologne, they'd be called essence d'UK; that is, they combine all those intangibly British products and points of view that make the humor, their aesthetic presentation, and the subject matter particular to this part of the world, and therefore, of ex-pat-y interest to me.

Stay tuned for the other 5 tomorrow.
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Brenda's First Five Favorite British Commercials
in no particular order;
my current poison of choice for killing perfectly good brain cells

The Bird's Eye Salmon Fish Finger Commercial
If the prude inside you is not shocked by this, then - in the words of my dear Balki Bartokomous - "slap my knee and call me Gumby!" Even Matt yelled in shock at the television when he saw this for the first time last night. I can't help but enjoy the typically British crassness of it all, and yet, I don't think I'll ever eat a fish finger again.

The Mini Babybel Factory Commercial
I have a love-hate relationship with this commercial. While I am a devoted lover of the diminutive, my type-A personality can't help but be authentically annoyed (and I actually yell at the tv every time) when they show up with that ridiculously small bucket to milk the cow. I know, sad.

3. The HSBC Polish - Washing Machine - Mango Lassi Commercial
My mother and I had this song stuck in our heads for two weeks straight when she came to visit in October and even went around singing it in our own vaguely-Hindi-sounding mumbo-jumbo. At one point I think we even started calling Matt "Makaweeko." But apart from the catchy tune, I love the bewildered Polish man, I love that lassi is being made in washing machines, and I love that I feel like jumping up and indulging in lots of Bollywood-esque dance moves every time I see this commercial.

The Barclays Card Waterslide Commercial
I have become entirely obsessed with whether this is a feasible reality, because if it is in ANY way, I would absolutely demand that when I'm a millionaire this become my official way of getting home from work. How much would that rock?!

5. The Muller "Lick the Lid of Life" Rice Commercial
I love Muller rice. I order it every single week in my Tesco delivery. But it's not just good rice pudding that made me include this in my first five favorite British commercials: it is the absolute and total embodiment of joie de vivre that this commercial represents. Plus they're playing one of my all-time-favorite songs ever "I Got Life" by Nina Simone. If you don't feel compelled to dance or sing along, or both - there's really something wrong with you. And you might need a life coach.

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Today's Honorable mentions:
This particularly meaningless and yet exciting honor goes to two commercials that are extremes for me.

The Sainsbury's "Staff" Commercial
The first is a Sainsbury's ad that nauseates me to the point of exhaustion. Maybe because they played it pretty much every two-seconds for about 6 months straight, but particularly because it uses the term "fridge-hoover" (remind me to tell Ludovictus to kill me if I ever call him that) and has the most annoying-looking woman as its main character. She's just way too happy about being 42 and working at Sainsbury's. And this from someone who worked at Kroger one summer in college. Sorry, but it's true.

2. The Feel Good McDonald's "Farm Made of Flowers" Commercial
I love McDonald's. I don't care what you think of me for it. For my money it doesn't get any better than one of those flat little hamburgers with the funny onions and pickles and lots of American mustard. Matt and I make it a point to indulge in one of those every month or so, and nothing seems to ruin the "I'm a kid again" factor - not even being here in London where French's mustard is a luxury.
If you don't feel the same way, do me a favor and keep it to yourself. This commercial just makes me smile, unlike the stupid Sainsbury's one. Follow Me on Pinterest


  1. I love when the guy gets temporarily stuck on the slide and has to scoot to start up again.

    And I'm totally with you on the Sainsbury lady -- what about her makes me want to deflate her happiness??

  2. I love the creativity of English commercials, although its been a few years, since I lived there - I remember some very creative ones, that were even more entertaining becasue you knew they'd never make it passed the censors in the US. Thanks for sharing - these made my day!

  3. "So much pink!" "Oh, dear. I wasn't expecting that." 8-D Stunned fish sticks - gotta love that!

    These commercials are so funny! It is rather interesting that most of them are food-related - hmmmmm . . . it might make a great topic for a anthropology paper. I may have to ask your permission at a later date to borrow this thesis!