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British Expat Newsletter:
30 August 2006

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Advertising
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Quotation and joke

This week

One thing about living abroad is that we no longer get to see the UK’s telly adverts. (Actually, we don’t get to see many TV adverts at all as we hardly ever watch television, but that’s another story.)

Many people would say that that’s no great loss, and I tend to agree with them. For the most part, adverts are pretty banal, and they often get in the way of what you’re watching. Not so much of a nuisance if you’re watching something long and you need a break to make a cup of tea, get some food out of the fridge or oven, or even just go to the toilet. But if you’re watching a live sporting or other event and they cut to adverts in the middle – as now happens with Formula 1, apparently – it can be a real pain.

A particular annoyance is the sponsorship they’ve now brought in for some of the programmes. Some weren’t too bad – for instance, Cadbury’s “chocolate” animations for Coronation Street. But the Leerdammer adverts for murder mystery programmes like Taggart and Inspector Morse were really cheesy (sorry) and profoundly irritating.

Apparently, though, there are things you can do to avoid seeing ads. The TiVo box (essentially a hard drive for storing telly programmes) allows you to skip over ads if you’re watching a delayed transmission – though that’s only available in the US and UK (with Sky) at the moment, according to their website. And, of course, there’s still the option of taping (or burning, if you’ve shifted over to DVDs) programmes and watching them later. Either way, though, it means faffing about with the remote control to get to the beginning of the next bit you want to watch.

The mark of a really bad programme on ITV used to be that you’d watch it for the adverts in between segments rather than for the show itself. But it seems that these days the adverts are just as clichéd. The BBC News website had a couple of features about a year ago where a writer complained about all the “rules” of life as portrayed in adverts – long-suffering yet still smiling mothers and wives; handsome, square-jawed young men shaving in bathrooms, complete with betowelled blonde to caress their newly-shaved, perfectly smooth and not in the least irritated chin; chocolate bars that miraculously unwrap just by the slightest tug of the corner of the wrapper… You get the picture. So do fifty-odd million people in the UK, every day, over and over again.

That’s not to say that all adverts are a waste of time or have no artistic merit. On the contrary, they’re often very elaborate, carefully thought out masterpieces of compression – after all, theyv’e got to pack in a lot of information in less than thirty seconds. So they need to use a lot of non-verbal cues; imagery, sounds and the actors’ behaviour all contribute to the overall impression the advert’s trying to create. Some of the best ones do this very successfully, and still manage to entertain. For anyone old enough to remember back before 1989, Bach’s “Air on a G string” will forever be associated with Hamlet cigars and their ability to console the smoker after any manner of disaster.

But over-elaborateness can lead to impenetrability. One of the “rules of modern advertising” coined by a BBC website reader is that any advert so obscure that you have no idea what it is about will be revealed to be a car advert in the final half-second. All well and good if you’re one of the target audience and might therefore know what it’s all about already, but just thirty seconds of stolen life for everyone else.

No wonder that things like the TiVo box are selling so well…

Do you have anything to say about this topic, or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us?

Virtual Snacks

Just a few suggestions if you have a little time to spare:

Here’s a link to the BBC’s “Rules of Modern Advertising” story mentioned above:
BBC News: Rules of Modern Advertising

[Obsolete content and links removed]

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • haggis bag
  • click
  • virtual baby cigar
  • does cutting down trees increase evaporation?
  • women body language tugging at clothes
  • clarks lugger uk
  • the sun comes up and the sun goes down midi
  • festival of the radishes
  • paying limewire with visa
  • voluptuous brit ex pat dating
  • antispyware bete1
  • philosophy chicken ecard

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

British Expat Magazine


“One of life’s disappointments is discovering that the man who writes the bank’s ads is not the one who makes the loans.”

– Unknown


A rep from KFC arranges to visit the Pope. After receiving the Papal blessing he whispers, “Your Holiness, do we have a deal for you! If you change The Lord’s Prayer from ‘Give us this day our daily bread…’ to ‘Give us this day our daily chicken…’ we will donate £500 million to the Church.”

The Pope replies, “That is impossible. The Prayer is the Word of the Lord and it must not be changed.”

“OK,” says the KFC man, “we are prepared to donate £1 billion to the Church if you change the Lord’s Prayer from ‘Give us this day our daily bread…’ to ‘Give us this day our daily chicken…'”

Again the Pope replies, “That is impossible. The Prayer is the Word of the Lord and it must not be changed.”

Finally, the KFC rep says, “Right, this is our final offer. We will donate £5 billion to the church if you change the Lord’s Prayer from ‘Give us this day our daily bread…’ to ‘Give us this day our daily chicken…'” and he leaves.

Next day the Pope meets with the College of Cardinals to say that he has good news and bad news.

“The good news is that the Church has come into £5 billion.

“The bad news is that we are losing the Hovis account.”

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