Last night I had no need to watch Match of the Day. I had no need. I had already seen Arsenal vs Man United and knew that Liverpool had kept a clean sheet. I wasn’t fussed on the other matches. I guess my brain is finally becoming oversaturated with football. So I flicked over to ITV2. For the first time in about 10 years I watched TV as it was happening. No recordings, no fast forward so I had to watch local Northern Irish adverts which were targeted at us. It was here when I saw the new Harp Ad.
‘Harp tastes like a rock from the Giant’s Causeway and the paint from Samson and Goliath’s crane’ seems to be the message.
‘It’s our beer!’ said the Harp Angel. If they wanted Harp to have an authentic Northern Irish taste they should also have claimed that it tastes like a puddle from in front of the Bellvue Arms, the tears of Jullian Simmons when he was told UTV weren’t renewing his contract and the sweat of Jim McDonald’s moustache.
The glitzy ad is clearly well produced and designed to target cheeky Hard Lads who fancy a pint on a night out. It has Lurgan’s Micky Bartlett, the 5th funniest man in County Armagh, and some other guy walking round the country collecting the ingredients to make the perfect pint and deliver it to the Harp Angel. This is where I have a problem.They have replaced Rusty the Harp Angel I came to know and love with a new guy.
The old Harp Angel had a glint in his eye and a sheen in his glorious bronzy, golden hair. He loved Harp, and he loved telling me about it. He engaged his audience and even managed to convince me to try a pint of the malty, yeasty golden stuff. He seemed great, he did his job. So why replace him? What did he do wrong?
I can just imagine Rusty the Harp Angel being called into a meeting with the Ad executives being all excited. ‘Hey guys, really excited about the new campaign. I can’t wait to tell the people of Ulster more about how great Harp is. What brilliant new ideas have you got in store for Harp and Rusty the Harp angel? I have loads of ideas for what we can do for the Christmas season campaign. I really believe we can convince more people to drink Harp over the holidays!’ There is a long awkward pause in the room ‘Sorry Rusty, we feel that your Angel has run it’s course with our audience. We feel we are moving in a new direction.’ ‘We have decided to replace you and your Rusty hair with a new Angel. This new Angel has White hair, which will make people think of a Cold Pint of Harp, and looks slightly cooler than you.’
I then imagine the cheerful glow in Rusty’s face fading has he realises that his two kids won’t be able to get their iPhone 7s plus’s on Christmas and will have to settle for a Samsung with a basic Vodafone contract that has limited coverage in Cookstown. Rusty stoops his shoulders and walks slowly to the door, knowing that Christmas is ruined. ‘One more thing Rusty’ shouts the Ad Exec. ‘Yes sir?’ as Rusty turns around hopefully. ‘We are going to need those Angel Wings for the new guy, could you leave them at reception on your way out?’ With that Rusty leaves the building. Sad and dejected, Rusty the Harp Angel now sits along side the Old Captain Birdseye, the Old Mr Muscle, The Crazy Prices Guy and The Jolly Green Giant. Another broken worn out marketing tool that has not stood the test of time.
This is Marketing at it’s most cruel. Faceless guys behind a desk trying to squeeze every penny out of their campaigns and it doesn’t matter what much loved characters get mushed up and cast aside in the collateral damage. We as an audience, get attached to these characters, we get used to them appearing on our TV and then all too quickly they are ruthlessly replaced. The world of TV advertising is becoming as brutal and gorey as Game of Thrones. No one is safe. I can already see the Axe hovering about the head of the Go Compare Opera singer. If things keep going the way they are it won’t be long before Ronald McDonald gets the chop and finally the king of the Advertising word, Santa. And I don’t want to live in a world where Santa has been sent to a care home.
We have to act now. We have to tell the advertising executives that it’s not ok. I propose that we boycott Harp until they bring back the Rusty the Angel. This will be a bigger sacrifice for some, more than others. Half the people on the Newtownards Road will go into withdrawal. But it will be worth it if we get Rusty back on our screens. #NoRustyNoHarp