Pot Noodle is too gorgeous and always will be

Pot Noodle is too gorgeous and always will be

The Background

Nostalgia has been the comfort blanket for Brits during "this Covid thing".

A lot of the creative work during lockdown has indulged the hobbies, foods, music and films we first enjoyed as kids.

It's been all about getting that much-needed nostalgia hit.

And as part of the generation that was essentially brought up by TV, my experience has been many a late-night lost down a YouTube wormhole. 

I have of late found myself watching vintage ads while my wife intermittently asks me to turn the screen brightness down. 

So, in an effort to share some of that good feeling, I've picked out my absolute favourite advert of all time: Pot Noodle' Too Gorgeous'. 

The Big Idea

I have vivid memories of this one from when I was nine years old.

Transfixed on the screen as some mad welsh bloke filmed himself on a classic camcorder.

Co-written and directed by Armando Iannucci, 'that bloke' was acclaimed comedy writer Peter Baynham playing a passionate and moustachioed working-class guy called Terry. 

Sitting in his grubby flatshare somewhere in deepest darkest Wales, Terry and his mate John seemed to take it upon themselves to film a series of very homemade-looking adverts centred around their visible irritation at Pot Noodle for promoting the fibre goodness of this repositioned health food.

Branding the makers of Pot Noodle liars, Terry and John unleashed an impassioned, if misguided, attack.

Calling out Golden Wonder for trying to compare it to "frilly food like leaves" before shovelling down gallons of the stuff like pigs. Portrayed in the rich tradition of classic British sitcom losers, the more they took the piss out of health freaks, the more they shined a light on quite how stupid they were. 

The madness of the multi ad campaign then unleashed a range of slapstick set pieces.

Firstly, they descended on a real leisure centre as part of hidden camera footage with Pot Noodle in hand.  Bursting in on games of squash and an incredibly steamy sauna to great annoyance, before resorting to offering Pot Noodle to swimmers on the end of a fishing rod before being ejected from the premises.

They even burst onto the set of the new fictional 'health food' style infomercial to cause havoc and indeed ran a 'Christmas Special' on Christmas day ‘95 in which they blatantly described the product as "No good for you but, really gorgeous" – which I can imagine the ASA were up in arms about. 

Each ad ends in the same way as Terry delivers his deadpan catchphrase: 

"How can Pot Noodle be faffy food? It's too gorgeous". 

The Results

A bona fide cult hit. 

It was one of those adverts that seemed to become playground banter overnight as it transformed a once forgotten 70's fad snack into something that quickly entered the teenage lexicon. I mean, it captivated the nation. 

Looking back at the editorial coverage, national newspapers ran story after story about the campaign over multiple weeks. Baynham became a proper celeb. Transformed from a bit part comedy performer into a working-class hero among a fan base of students who wrote in their millions to then owners Golden Wonder asking for signed pictures. 

There were even reports of Oasis, who were at the height of their Brit-pop fame, ordering Pot Noodle be placed on their rider for an American Tour and audiences interrupting the live recording of topical BBC comedy show 'Saturday Night Armistice' by launching pots of the stuff at Baynham every time he entered the stage.  

Beyond fame, the results were also impressive. 

A once niche last resort late-night petrol station snack became one of the 90's biggest food and drink brands. Such was the demand that following the campaign reports placed Pot Noodle as worth £85m per year.

The Review

An absolute classic.

Not only does it live long in my memory, I still have a warm and fuzzy feeling toward Pot Noodle that will no doubt stay with me till the day I die.  

What's more, it set the tone for Pot Noodle's advertising style for years to come. Who can forget the Welsh Noodle Mines of the early noughties or the 2002 "The slag of all snacks", which was banned from appearing on TV after more than 300 viewers complained?

Never afraid of taking chances or pushing the envelope, it all started with Terry, a camcorder, and his best mate John.

In Hindsight

I will, however, concede it's not overly innovative or necessarily a pioneering piece of work from the golden age of advertising.

But, from a pure enjoyment point of view, the comic performance and sheer deadpan silliness of the ad is second to none. 

It may be 'very 90's' in its laddish celebration of excess, but the fact that they picked Terry - a weedy bloke that we all know or once knew – is undercut with a sense of humour that stands the test of time.

Just watch it and enjoy it. It's Too Gorgeous.

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