Adverts. They’re blasted at us everyday from all angles – next to our facebook posts, on billboards lining the streets, in between songs on Spotify, at the bottom of websites, in the newspapers we read and on the telly. Everywhere, adverts are everywhere, trying to convince us that if we buy a certain product or service we really will be a more beautiful/successful/happy/worthy/etc person. I try to ignore them as best I can, especially the ones that make me feel very ugly, but sometimes they get through. And the British Airways Holiday advert is one of the ones that slipped through my defences.
I think it’s the song that does it for me. Lightning Bolt by Jake Bugg. Now, I’m sure Jake Bugg is a really nice guy and it’s a great song – grabbing hold of life and really trying to live in a world that conditions us to just get by. Hence the lightning bolt – a metaphor for the electrifying possibilities of life. Yet I associate none of these things with booking a holiday with BA (not that I’ve ever booked a holiday with BA). Booking holidays is actually quite boring because it involves lots of online forms and they really aren’t fun. Yet here’s BA using a catchy soundtrack and two passably attractive, heterosexual people, to try and convince us that booking a holiday with them is some sort of guarantor of euphoria (it’s not, trust me).
And it’s what the irritating couple do that’s even worse – they jet off to fancy locales with little regard for their bank balances, they order coffee in quintessentially rustic cafes, they take photos with overly large lenses and the second they get home, the second they actually have to sit down and spend some time together and contemplate the hollowness of their relationship they just spend another thousand odd quid and zoom off on another holiday. They have sex in expensive hotels, swan around on rooftops as if they’re really living the high life and even make packing into some sort of sexy game. I’m not sure what BA is trying to sell us here – holiday packages, heterosexual monogamy or bundles of shame for not being a successful enough yuppie. But, oh no, the couple are rowing in front of a fountain but, phew, BA is to hand with its 24 Hour Helpline, which for some reason provides marital advice as well as insurance advice. To cut a long story short, she ends up dancing with an older man, then they go to Barbados to try and patch things up before she tries to run off into the sea to escape their shallow, airbrushed sham of a relationship.
So, yeah, you might have guessed that this advert really bugs me, especially because it always (and I mean always) comes on when I’m catching up on murder mysteries on ITV. It’s the indie rock sounds of Jake Bugg, the ridiculous lifestyle of the couple that would bankrupt most people, and the fact that it’s for BA, which just makes me think of being stuck in a stuffy, giant, metal tube at far too high an altitude (ideally miles away from any lightning bolts).