Last Friday a new advertising panel show aired and it did nothing to raise the standard of dire advertising-inspired programmes on TV. It is debatable whether the world really needs another panel show – OK they are cheap but sadly so are most of the jokes. This latest effort, the Byronically titled The Mad Bad Ad Show, certainly didn’t look like it was going to break the mould.
The host, Mark Dolan, has made a career out of being a bit annoying which is unfortunately not the best qualification for a panel game host. His teams consist of the usual rent-a-standup comedians with the addition of a couple of almost entirely superfluous ad people in Kate Stanners of Saatchi and Saatchi and Simon Chamberlain, a planning director. They sat uncomfortably close to each other on a sofa trying to look amused at the witty ‘ad’ libs being made on either side of them. They had clearly been told to leave the funnies to the experts, although on the evidence of this show they shouldn’t have worried.
Whilst the equivalent task in The Apprentice usually serves up some accidental classic of crassness, these were supposed to be funny. I assume Sacha Baron Cohen is currently suing Micky Flanagan for nicking his Borat character for the first offering and, as for the second, it could at least claim to have had a rather fetching soundtrack from the reclusive French chanteuse SoKo. Before the commercials were shown, we were treated to a toe-curling creative briefing in which the unnamed agency participants looked in embarrassment at their pencils or pretended to take furious notes.
Our adland gurus were eventually asked to judge the resulting commercials, both giving the kind of clenched teethed praise that a creative director gives to the latest ideas from the client’s son to whom he is reluctantly giving a month’s work experience. No-one mentioned the obvious fact that neither ad would have a snowflake’s chance of getting past the ASA nor that each ad went on for about half an hour (or maybe it just seemed like it).
A shame really that at a time when the advertising industry has so fully embraced the need for products to engage with their audiences, that this programme so singularly failed to do so.