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But wait, there’s more… our favourite ad clichés


Dulux Endurance TV Ad 2016

Ad clichés – you have to love ‘em. They’re all around us, from print media to social media, from websites to TV ads. And as the Christmas ad campaigns get into gear, our cliché-o-meter is fusing its little circuits.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re not all sneery and superior about ad clichés. Far from it. Despite all the negative connotations, clichés are really useful for both advertisers and audiences. They present a familiar idea that people relate to easily, and connect with quickly. Cliches represent familiarity, and that can be a powerful thing in advertising.

But what we like about ad clichés is they’re great fun to spot. Bagging an ad cliché is like train-spotting, but without having to stand on a bridge in the cold. Go on, give it a go yourself.

Without further ado, if that’s not a cliché, let’s look at some of our faves:


Married men are a bit rubbish…

After years of appallingly sexist depictions of women, more recently the ad industry turned the tables on men. In ad-land, men are almost universally useless, lazy, malingerers. Can’t switch the toaster on. Can’t mend anything. Have no common sense. And make a fuss over nothing.

Take this great online ad from Lem-Sip, which riffs on the man-flu theme.

Useless Man is starting to die a death now, but there are still plenty of examples if you keep your eyes peeled.


…and they’re embarrassing, too.

How many ads have you seen where Dad is:

  • singing into a mop
  • dancing in some terminally uncool fashion
  • making some doomed attempt to communicate with his teenage children?

This evergreen trope isn’t complete without a dismissive rolling of the eyes from other family members.

Take a look at how this brilliant Volkswagen advert plays with the embarrassing Dad cliché:


Products demonstrated by people who have no need of those products

We have a specific example in mind. Anti-wrinkle creams. Advertised by women that look like Greek goddesses, who have skin like alabaster, and who couldn’t possibly have any need of anti-wrinkle cream for another decade.

For those of us whose faces need ironing in the morning, this ad cliché can bring about muttered protest.

Yoghurt is consumed by Very Attractive People

Now, we know that Very Attractive People are great at selling anything. Vacuum cleaners, mug-trees, headphones – put an appealing face and a nice bod with it and we’re sold. But of the myriad products in the known universe, the thing Very Attractive People sell best is yoghurt. From the 1970s onwards, yoghurt on TV has been consumed almost exclusively by youthful, fabulous looking individuals.

Don’t believe us? Exhibit A, your honour:


Perfectly Unflappable Mum

You know the one. Mum enters the kitchen to discover her chocolate-covered three-year-old putting hand-prints up the pristine white wall. Does Mum’s face turn purple with rage? Do her eyeballs start bulging as her blood pressure hits the stratosphere? Of course not. She’s Perfectly Unflappable Mum. She tips her head on one side and smiles indulgently. Then reaches for Whizzo, the cleaning product that cures all domestic issues.

This cliché runs and runs, promising a family paradise in which mums are in control of every situation and children aren’t ever downright infuriating, but simply cute.

The question is, does Perfectly Unflapable Mum live with Rubbish, Embarrassing Dad?


Just about everything you’ve seen in a job advert

Most job adverts are one long string of clichés. And that makes sense, because there may be very little text to play with, and clichés are a form of shorthand. Nevertheless, we were delighted to see them deconstructed by thecoburgbanks.co.uk. Our favourites included:

Job Advert ClichéDecoded version
Good leadership skills preferredYou’ll be working as a manager, without a manager’s salary
Retail JediSales Assistant
A fast-growing companyThere’s just two of us
Industry-leadingWe're just an average company, really


You can see the rest on the Coburg Banks blog (so long as you promise to come back).


But wait, there’s more…

Our fab five ad clichés barely scratch the surface, so please do get hunting for your own (we promise there’s no shortage) and let us know your personal favourites.

We recommend that you share your cliché-spotting observations with your family, announcing each one with a loud ‘ha!’. You will find that they’re delighted with your insights and treat you with a new-found respect. Probably.

Just Tim 'n Mo

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