I have become obsessed with the current Ladbrokes advert starring former The Inbetweeners actor James Buckley. In it, he flies down in a robot suit, and addresses a small crowd of people about the exciting betting opportunities available to them. Then the suit malfunctions, the top half shooting away into the sky, leaving him to plod off, claiming he fancied a walk anyway. Oh the hilarity.
The source of my fascination is the opening line, uttered by Buckley as he descends. “Lads lads lads!” he cries. “And everybody!”
Lads… and everybody? What are we saying here Ladbrokes? If you want to appeal to lads, just do it – after all, 88% of sports gambling is done by men. If you don’t want to appeal exclusively to lads, then that’s easily done – just have him say “Hey everybody!” instead. But by separating lads out, it makes it seem like in the Ladbrokes world, there are lads, and then there are afterthoughts. “Lads are best, obviously – that’s why we’ve got James Buckley,” one presumes the meeting with the advertising agency went. “But I suppose in the namby-pamby, snowflake world of 2019, we’d better acknowledge that there are people out there who aren’t lads. Put some women in the crowd and stick “and everybody” on the end, that should cover it.”
There is a school of thought that it’s an attempt at humour. The idea being that James Buckley, obviously clearly associated with being laddish from The Inbetweeners, is so fixated on lads that he calls solely to them as he is landing, before realising that there are more than just lads standing there. So he hastily and clumsily adds “And everybody!” But, is that funny? Even by the standards of people who think The Inbetweeners hilarious, does that count as humour? It’s elusive at best.
Or perhaps it’s an effort, in the increasingly divided and compartmentalised world in which we live, to split the nation. Into Lads on the one hand, and Everybody on the other. But then, surely Everybody includes Lads? He would have to descend saying “Lads lads lads! And non-lads non-lads non-lads!” Which, let’s be honest, is clumsy. Anyway, the mystery continues. As someone who watches sport on television I have seen this advert roughly 20,000 times, and yet I still have no idea of what Ladbrokes are trying to say.
It’s possible I’m overthinking it.