It’s generally regarded as bad form for celebrities to slag off the products they promote in TVCs.
This is especially true of EPL footballers, who are overpaid and often behave with wilful disrespect towards their paymasters. But there is widespread sympathy for Blackburn Rovers defender Michel Salgado, one of of the team to star in ad for Venky’s chicken.
Pune-based Venky’s has been since November 2010 the proud owners of the club and, naturally, is its shirt sponsor.
So, one suspects, if Venky’s asks the players to appear in an ad – paid or not – they can’t refuse.
The ad has been much enjoyed by fans for its sheer awfulness, but until Salgado spilt the beans last month, the players have kept quiet about their experience.
EPL footballers, despite vast wealth, are rarely known for their refined tastes in food (or pretty much anything). So Venky’s must have thought it was on safe ground when it filmed the Blackburn team stuffing themselves (before kick-off too!) on what looks like radioactive dog poo.
But man-of-the-world Salgado, a former Spain international whose eating tastes run to delicacies like wild boar and octopus, showed no inhibitions in describing his experience.
“When we filmed the ad, I think I came off worst. I had to pretend to love the chicken but, the truth is, one bite and my stomach was in knots,” Salgado told Campaign’s sister magazine FourFourTwo.
But with Blackburn languishing joint bottom of the EPL and pre-season favourites for relegation, it is by no means the only decision Venky’s may come to rue.
Barter: a second coming
To financiers, barter trade is the mark either of a primitive society or, like the former Soviet Union during the 70s and 80s, a dodgy economy.
Media barter agencies have been around in the UK for a while, but always suffered a terrible image problem, sitting in the murky space between a media owner with inventory they can’t get rid off and an advertiser with unsold hotel rooms, clothing, vacuum cleaners…whatever.
And there they seemed destined to stay, not least because of the probability that online trading systems would wipe out the need for middlemen, leaving them only a few scraps to live off.
But UK barter agencies have raised their game, most through a number of high-profile appointments, and are starting to be taken seriously.
The latest hire is Graham Duff, a well-respected former head of Zenith UK and sales boss of ITV, UK’s biggest terrestrial broadcaster. Other big hitters to make the move include another former TV sales boss, senior client-side marketers, and the former head of media for P&G Europe.
Naturally they claim barter is not a step back to the dark ages, and it seems that with media owners increasingly under pressure to trim inventory, and clients with stretched media budgets and keen to explore any sales channel, they may be right.
Even so, it still feels like a product of the recession.
The days when advertisers would take expensive press ads to alert consumers to their upcoming TVC seem long gone in the viral age.
But not French fashion house Dior, which splashed out on colour pages in the Sunday press to trail the debut of its TVC for perfume J’adore featuring Hollywood star Charlize Theron on British TV later this week.
There’s something charmingly old-fashioned about this, as there is about the ad itself – the usual tosh, but exquisitely made and a visual treat.