worst advert, tom rigby, freelance copywriter, www.tomrigby.com

Worth dying for?

I almost always have the telly or radio on or music playing while I work. If you work on your own like I do, it distracts from the silence. This morning it was the telly’s turn. In an advertisement break in one of those strange programmes you have on in the background, you know, the ones that are usually found on one of those strange channels in the back of beyond of Sky. They all seem to have acronyms instead of actual names. The quality of the content may be why.

Anyway, I digress. On came one of those advertisements. You know the ones – they’ve been around for the past ten years or so. They’re always plugged by Michael Parkinson, Gloria Hunniford or some other equally smug-looking silver-haired celeb, sitting in a comfy armchair with a ‘concerned for you’ look on their face. Nodding sagely, delivered with an authoritative manner that also says ‘I’m juWorth dying for? Tom Rigbyst like you’.

They always start with them looking sincerely into the camera and asking – “After your death…”, “Have you prepared for…” or “In the event of…”. This one began with ‘ordinary’ Michael asking us “Have you made arrangements for after you’ve gone?” Gone where? Oh, that kind of gone. My interest waned. But then it ended with the call to action, one that I’ve heard before but not really considered, until now.

“If you register your interest today, you’ll receive this magnificent pen – absolutely free”, he said incredulously, as if disbelieving of the company’s generosity.

Now I’ve written my fair share of adverts. And I’ve asked serious questions to grab the attention of the reader or listener but, I’m relieved to say, have I sunk so low as to offer them a pen for their troubles. This is the 21st Century. Are you telling me that someone who has lived through terrorism, and mass unemployment is really going to be swayed by the offer of a pen, no matter how magnificent or desirable it may be?

It’s a bit like presenting an employee with a carriage clock after 25 years of service – usually just before you hand them their P45. Please don’t tell me that they still do that.

But wait (again). It gets better.

‘No medical required’. ‘Mere pence a day’. ‘Guaranteed cash lump sum if you die after two years’ Michael tells us, still blinded by the shininess of the pen But before you rush to sign up, it’s not actually as good as it sounds. Drop dead after two years and your family receives exactly what you put in which could be enough to buy you the very best of the cheaper wreaths. Surely that’s what a bank account does isn’t it?

Surely the only thing that is guaranteed is that you will be dead. And when you’re dead, do you really care? Can you take the pen with you?