When it comes to bafflingly irritating TV adverts, I reckon price comparison websites have the market cornered: talking meerkats, moustachioed opera singers, and strange characters and hairstyles that should have been left in the 70s. But when it comes to the original, confused.com, the adverts go far beyond annoying, and tip into kind of terrifying. I am, of course, referring to the absurdity that is their animated breasts.
For a while now, the confused.com adverts have featured a cartoon heroine singing a catchy jingle to the tune of the YMCA, the townsfolk of Cartoonland dancing jubilantly behind her. The characters are standard cartoon fare - crude recreations of human beings with all the basic required features. The main woman has seven fucking strands of hair. Realism is obviously not the priority here.
So what, IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, is up with the breasts? Despite Cara (that’s Mrs Confused’s name) wearing a sweater that covers up to her chin, her breasts are still lovingly rendered and defined, present in every shot. At this point, I’d also like to point out that Cara doesn’t even have a fucking nose. They obviously used up their drawing allowance on boingy breasts. In fact, every single female cartoon is endowed with some stage of breastiness. We have little 80s cheerleaders with tiny bumps (holla, flat chested girls!), old women with boobs hanging at their waists, all the way up to the somewhat inevitable attitudey black woman with breasts the size of her head. And this multitude of cartoon breasts? They jiggle in time to the music. Bouncing up and down to the beat, literally swinging all the way around when an overenthusiastic dance move is attempted.
'Come play with us,' the hypnotic breasts say. 'Come play with us for ever and ever and ever. Come and play the price comparison game.'
Early last year, one of these such adverts garnered a series of complaints for being “overtly sexual” after a few of the cartoon honeys were seen jumping up and down in bikinis and aforementioned attitudey black woman flashes her pink knickers. And this is exactly the sort of thing that I’d usually get my own (non-pink) knickers in a twist about. I mean, the breasts-as-defining-feature-of-women thing is bad enough. And don’t even get me started on the outfits. German beer-maids, skimpily dressed gymnasts, bikini babes, sexy schoolgirls, all present and correct. What is this, an animated version of the Ann Summers catalogue? It’s just too easy to imagine some terrifying old guy sketching and animating rows and rows of breasts, and then quickly sketching stick figures around them. I’m too freaked out to be mad about it. Congratulations, confused.com, you have lived fully up to your namesake and confused me into submission. All hail the hypnobreasts.
I sort of wonder what the aim is with sexualisation in the world of price comparison. Are the advertisers hoping that men will look at Cara and want to run their fingers through those seven strands of hair? That they’ll update their latest home insurance plan by using confused.com just to see the smile on her perfectly round face? I mean, I get how it all started, in the more understandable realms of Dior and Chanel No. 5 and Topshop. Make up and clothes companies are gonna throw a sexy person in your face and say, “Hey! Look! Buy our stuff and you will be as sexy as this person!” Direct link. But it's pretty clear from the cartoon chest-candy that this has gotten way out of hand. This is a search engine for your utilities bills and a better deal on your ISA.
At this point, I feel we should turn briefly around and acknowledge the fact that this has also happened with Sheba's latest catfood advert. Here we see an almost naked Eva Longoria sexily dancing along a table, writhing around and being her generally delectable self. But halfway through the advert, the advertisers seem to have suddenly remembered that they are advertising catfood, not Eva Longoria’s legs. Catfood. Potentially the least sexy product of all time. I can think of nothing less likely to get me “in the mood” than catfood (apart from, possibly, price comparison algorithms.) And the hilarious gap between the incredibly sensual advert and the mundaneness of the product being advertised (mmm, horse chunks!) results in one of the most toe-curlingly contrived links of all time. “Dancing is my passion”, purrs Eva (see what I did there?), “...So is my cat.” Tumbleweed.
It makes me just that little bit worried that this process is never going to stop. Sex sells. But does it sell catfood and car insurance? How long before John Lewis’s beloved chintzy adverts are replaced by Megan Fox dry humping a lamp? Or maybe even just dressed up as a sexy lamp, with strategically placed bulbs. How long before the permanent DFS sofa sale is announced via tattoos on Christina Aguilera's buttocks, inside those famous crotchless leather chaps?
This is the future folks. And it’s freaking me the fuck out.