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Published on April 13th, 2011 | by Éilish Burke


Ad Nauseam: Out of Character

Has anyone else noticed the rash of brand ‘characters’ in Irish ads recently? I’m not talking epic storylines acted out by characters like Papa and Nicole or those two heavily airbrushed ones in the naff Nescafe ’80s ads. I’m talking about actors playing employees of the company and becoming the face of the brand. There’s been a few and in this post we’re going to take a look at the good, the bad and the just plain annoying.

Jim in Eircom support

Jim has been around for a year or so now. He’s managed to hold on to his cushy job in Eircom customer support which sees him wandering about his fancy glass-walled office, nonchalantly tossing the odd screwed up ball of paper into a wastebasket and adjusting the tightness of his hands-free headset. Jim is a lucky man. He answers the phone to the right type of customer; some of them even seem to know him by first name. They’re easy-to-please folks who exist in a parallel universe where they haven’t spent the last half hour listening to a pan pipe version of Orinonoco Flow while being intermitently told how ‘valuable’ their call is.

Maeve from Eircom Phonewatch

Eircom love their bubbly staff representatives don’t they? Exhibit B is Maeve from the Eircom Phonewatch ad. Pushing the chirpiness all the way up to eleven, Maeve is the type of person I’d buy anything from just in order to escape from her manically sunny presence. She’s like the demented head prefect who could never leave the glory days of orating at school sporting occasions behind her and has now come to inflict her relentless optimism and organisational skills on the unsuspecting public. Probably the most annoying thing to hit our screens since the producers of Don’t Feed The Gondolas made the fatal mistake of putting Brendan O’Connor in front of a camera.

All the improbably-titled people from e Mobile

e Mobile are the new mobile phone company who pride themselves on treating their potential customers like retards. They’re all about simplicity you see; easy-to-understand pricing plans for customers who are too lazy to do some research and find out that although e Mobile are the newest mobile operator in the market, they are also one of the most expensive. It’s obvious that e Mobile are pitching themselves at an older audience; the kind of people who buy phones with giant buttons and get their adult children to set all of them to speed-dial the emergency services in case of a heart attack. These customers aren’t price sensitive and they just want to be given a nice round figure that they can fork out every month. e Mobile are staffed by a slew of lovely girls and boys like Aoife, Laura and Mark who are willing to do just that. They’re no-nonsense people with no-nonsense job titles; Mark is ‘Director of Simplicity’ for example and Karen is ‘Head of Doing things Differently’. I applied for the job of ‘Queen of Sitting on My Arse and Playing Spider Solitaire’ but unfortunately the ‘Head of Making Important Decisions’ didn’t think I was quite rosy-cheeked or patronising enough. Bitch.
No prizes for guessing who e Mobile are owned by either. Yes, it’s Eircom. One trick pony on the advertising front much?

Ferg from Spar

Ah Ferg. Ferrrrrrg. He’s been in the Spar ads for about a year now and is threatening to become a bit of an institution. Not bad from a pay packet point of view for his alter-ego comedian Fred Cooke but it becomes one hell of a tight pigeon hole after a while. Ferg is the idiot savant in red who wins praise from his boss and scorn from his workmates for unwittingly coming up with great ideas to sell stuff. His is the kind of village eejit character everyone loves to take to heart. There’s an extra edge to his personality that makes him believable. If it were Ferg up against any of the one-dimensional Eircom characters I’d vote for him any day. As long as the vote wasn’t for who was first to be thrown off a pier, then it’d definitely be Maeve.

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About the Author

Éilish writes the Ad Nauseam series of posts for Culch.ie as well as some other bit and bobs. She used to work in adland and still likes to dissect the advertising she comes across, though these days mainly from the comfort of her couch and in the form of angry tirades while her flatmate rolls her eyes to heaven. She secretly harbours smug feelings that instead of saving and putting a deposit on a house she spent all her life savings on extravagant holidays and has therefore escaped a lifetime in negative equity. She co-runs a company called Amp Music Marketing. You can get in touch with her at eilishburke{at}gmail{dot}com or follow her on Twitter.

9 Responses to Ad Nauseam: Out of Character

  1. Joe says:

    I think Spar get a grant for hiring people like “Ferg”, so there’s more business sense in employing him than the other three.

    I love the way eMobile (who are doing shite btw) seem to portray a call centre as a place where the phones are silent, then ringing and answered by non-headsetted people. If their expertise on call centres is anything like their expertise in mobile phone operation, I think I’ll pass, Aoife!

    I also guffawed at the nonsense job titles in the Eircom ads until I looked at my own company’s internal phone directory yesterday and discovered we have a “Head of Change”.


  2. ‘Head of Change’ = Management consultancy gone nuts?
    Never noticed the people in e Mobile weren’t wearing headsets. Then again they probably communicate with their elderly customers via carrier pigeon…

  3. Ciara says:

    They’re mad for this stuff over in Australia. Jason and his bunch of cronies were everywhere after this ad launched. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zr7pkJ5V2Hw

    Remind me to never call Jason, k?

  4. O dear, they’re all SO happy to be saving people money. I bet they don’t even earn a wage, they just do their job for the satisfaction it brings. Meh!

  5. Dave says:

    None of those can come close to this prick that I have to endure on Australian TV: “Jason” from RACV insurance.

  6. aha Dave… Ciara got in before you re. Jason.
    think calm thoughts….

  7. on the plus side, they’re all real people in that they’re not film star gorgeous, which is a relief. Sometimes the screen is so full of beautiful people, I’m embarrassed to get on the Dart

  8. Sinead Keogh says:

    I love Ferg. I can’t help it. He doesn’t manage to make me shop in Spar though. Overpriced, grrrrr.

  9. Bngr says:

    Yer wan Maeve is a bit sprightly school teacher, but i’d take her over the “is this a date” wan from the Barry’s tea ad anyway.

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