Saturday, October 25, 2008

What A Lovely Spread, Missus

"It's not about Great Britain. It's about Great Butter."

That's Johnny Rotten on the current Country Life advert.

"The king is gone but he's not forgotten
This is the story of Johnny Rotten"

That's Neil Young on Johnny Rotten, of course.

Rotten was always the first choice for the Country Life campaign. Butter producers had always been after the ex-punk to be the voice and face of their various spreads. "Anchor In The UK" could have been on our screens back in 2005 if it wasn't for Johnny turning up his nose.

The "Great Butter" ad had been hanging round the offices of advertising agency Batchelor Scuppa Coop since the height of punk. The problem was in the 70s Britain was still seen as "Great" by the majority of the public. And back then the majority of the public ate real butter stored in larders. Fridges, like automatic washing machines, didn't really take off 'til the third year of Thatcher. Hers was a white goods revolution.

Minnie Stroney, director of Barchelor Scuppa Coop takes up the Great Butter story.

"We wanted a punk. We wanted someone who personified a Britain our grandparents wouldn't recognise. No more cap doffing. No respect for embarrassing traditions. And Johnny was always our number one."

The project was put on the back burner 'til Johnny's public rebirth in the first decade of the 21st century. But at first Johnny refused.

"At first Johnny refused. This was during the Filthy Lucre Tour. He said he could only be seen to be selling out one way at a time. But we thought the time was right. So we considered different options. We got in touch with Ade Edmondson. He couldn't do it as he is contracted solely to Peperami 'til 2034. We tried Jimmy Pursey. But he was busy doing the voiceover for a Sky Arts documentary on interpretive dance and didn't want to compromise."

But this year Johnny relented.

"This year, however, Johnny relented. The Country Life guys were ecstatic. Johnny is so much the right man for the butter demographic. There's the middle aged man who likes the real thing on his toast and loves Johnny's rebellious youth. Then there's the grandmother who hasn't stopped buying butter through the years and adores Johnny from I'm A Celebrity. We think this campaign will be more of a success than the old famous one."

"It's Country Life
It's English, too
From the cows to the dairy
From the dairy out to you."

"That was a great ad. But it was from a bygone age. The Englishness of the product was stressed as a merit, a source of pride, as opposed to New Zealand butter or Irish butter. People nowadays don't care where things come from. Today it's all about quality and price. And Country Life has both."

"It's not about Great Britain. It's about Great Butter."


  1. Trouble is, these celebrity endorsements can so backfire. If I was a 'Country Life' consumer, I'd switch brands rather than be even remotely associated with Rotten/Lydon. Can't wait to see what he's like when he gets really old. He'll probably start doing ads for other oldie stuff, like those walk-in baths and life insurance for the over-50s. And he'll still never admit to having sold out. Pah!

  2. I don't know about Country Life, but I had some Kerrygold the other day (very sensible dollar burning behaviour during a recession I'm sure - head for the import section of the grocery store and throw money away) and was very surprised at how yellow it is. Shiny yellow. What are they feeding those cows?
    What are they paying Mr Lydon?

  3. Chris - I'll forgive him anything because he made some great music a very long time ago. I'm sure he needs the money since all that real estate he owns has lost 50% of its value in the past year.

    Arabella - Buttercups! There's been a glut of them in Ireland. I hope John's getting more than Adrian Edmondson does for his Peperami advert because talent should be rewarded.

  4. There's a rumour (possibly put around by the man himself) that Morrissey was offered a KitKat advert. Not to mention Strictly Come Dancing.

  5. I saw a woman on a chat show recently who had found out that Johnny was her long lost half brother.
    He refused to see her or talk to her.
    But he was happy enough to talk to the Country Life people.
    Let's hope Russell Brand doesn't get a call from Horlicks.

  6. Tim - KitKat's aren't vegan. A reason why Morrissey would never advertise butter either. Beanz Meanz Moz?

    Kaz - Maybe he thought she was after some of his millions. I presume he donates a lot to charity but doesn't like to talk about it. I just can't imagine a Russell Brand in his fifties.

  7. Are Corrie actors allowed to do adverts?

  8. I don't think they are. Not even voiceovers. There is an ex-Corrie actress playing a bit-part in an ad at the moment. And Becky's in one but I presume that was filmed pre-Corrie.

  9. I would have used Marlon Brando and his famous pass the butter line from Last Tango In Paris.

    Atleast you know that Brando won't say anything stupid and ruin the campaign.

    Johnny Rotten a sellout!
    Is nothing sacred anymore?

  10. Having named an album after the product in question, *surely* Bryan Ferry was the obvious candidate...

    (... but are you allowed to show teutonic birds snapped in the nip by Nicholas de Ville after the watershed though, that's the question...)

    Up the Irons!



  11. Donn - Brando's Brandy Butter would go down a treat. Rotten a sellout? Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

    Bob - Bryan is every bit the country gentleman, too. Didn't he originally advertise Strand cigarettes? It should never have been 0-2. It should have been at least 4.