Clover or Dover?

Writer and photographer Alexander Sebley is shocked by the depths some advertisers are prepared to sink to.

Advertising agencies house some of the most debased people on the planet: deceptive, cynical and toxic. This advert at my local bus stop is posing a question that viewers may be oblivious to at first glance. The ad is linked to recent events. Can you see it?


The viewer may ask him or herself, ‘Is Clover using the recent refugee crisis to sell butter?’ In my opinion, they most certainly are.

While you ponder this question, perhaps with despair – because it does make us despair – the agency has won, for now you are thinking about their butter, and nothing is more important to them than that.

You’d be mad to consider that Clover had done this, wouldn’t you?

The use of the phrase ‘gets in’ suggests that your butter, that British staple, is under attack by something foreign. Luckily, that something foreign is being repelled by the long arm of the law – specifically the Knights Templar, who are synonymous with Western, Christian supremacism.

A spokesperson for Clover claimed to have no idea what I was talking about, but advertisers work on the principle that nothing is more important than being talked about, that anything is better than indifference.

Advertisers cannot stand indifference and as such they often turn to desperate measures to get our attention, however questionable or odd their methods may be. They would rather you hate them and the product than for you to walk on by oblivious to their shouts and whistles, such is the state of their industry today.

But does it actually work? A recent survey showed that the average person is likely to see 5,000 marketing messages a day, although this number can greatly vary depending on lifestyle and environment. More controversially, the survey went on to find that 99% of advertising has little to no effect.

Advertising has suffered a major dip in funding over the last ten years. It’s not the industry it once was. This is perhaps why the Clover ad on my road has had to resort to such crudeness and lack of taste.

This is the line of reasoning I think Clover HQ followed:

We need to sell butter. Clover sounds like Dover. Dover is in the papers a lot. People don’t like asylum seekers. Asylum seekers are foreigners. Foreigners are alien. Aliens are artificial. Our butter has nothing artificial in it. Get a tub of Clover butter, write “nothing artificial gets in” and surround it with policemen or knights.

People will talk.

Photography by Alexander Sebley