118 Too much

Did everyone stop watching Lost because it was ridiculous, or because of the intensely irritating 118 adverts every 15 minutes? Probably a bit of both, but for me the sight of those two goofy student types with false moustaches was simply too much to bear. One day I’ll borrow the box set off someone from work and watch the entire thing during a sickie.

Naively I thought that after Lost that would be it, the campaign would finish, the advertising execs would take their bald patches back to Hoxton and we all could all go back to Channel 4. That is without the risk of turning into that bloke played by Michael Douglas in the film Falling down.

No such luck I’m afraid because they’re back, but this time the campaign has taken on a whole new level of aggression beyond the confines of the shit pump. With the help of a whole army of the above mentioned execs, the two punchable students are stealing our public space right from under our noses.

Unsuspecting commuters brave enough to tackle Waterloo or Victoria of a weekday morning are returning with horrific stories of sensory overload, rage and in some cases, Post Dramatic Stress Disorder. Or maybe that’s just me.

The stupid fake moustaches and running vests are plastered on any available surface in what must be one of the most cynically cheap advertising gimmicks of recent years. It is quite literally, everywhere.

Not enough is the usual advertising space we all try to avoid whilst waiting for the tube, 118 now dominates the airspace with enormous draping banners straight out of the Nuremberg Rally, and looking down won’t help because the floor’s been covered with 118 paraphernalia too.

Like the station concourse the sleek ticket barriers, every inch the mark of quality with their functionality and brushed aluminium, have also fallen foul of bastardisation with an array of gaudy plastic 118 stickers.

Every inch of this communal space, whether private property or not, was paid for and built by people like us. They are patronised by people like us who pay thousands every year to use the transport system of which we should be proud. To see this privilege, which is the veins of our economy as well as an integral function of our society cheapened in such a manner is saddening, although not surprising.

It’s somehow indicative of an era that could easily be entitled, ‘New Labour – The final initiative’. The closing showpiece of blatant contempt, almost the last push towards societal conformity and sterilisation. A place where The Da Vinci Code and Feeder have become cultural standards, and where greed and one-upmanship are the champions of tomorrow’s generation.

118. Cultural vandalism at its very worst.

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