The ADgender: Costa makes coffee unsexy again

This week's oddest advert.

Coffee can have a strange effect. It's easy to spot the morning jitterers, who've either had too much or too little, waiting at the bus stop clasping a twitching arm to keep it from snatching the nearest steaming cup from an unsuspecting passer-by.

Coffee has turned us into a nation of merciless, bean-thirsty ingrates, eager to trample the faces of our loved ones in a bid to reach the front of the queue and get that caramel macchiato into our gaping gobs. Or, at least, this is what Costa would have us believe if their new ad is anything to go by. The curtains part and a regiment of disembodied heads move as one, jerking along to an ominous soundtrack that includes the lyric "In the darkness, there's so much I wanna do" as they stare manically into the camera, their coffee high at fever pitch due to the fact they're drowning in the stuff.

This dangerous obsession has reached its pinnacle in the form of a Costa employee who, after breathing in deadly caffeine fumes day after day, now harbours dark and twisted fantasies. Beware the smiling facade, this man wants to bury you alive with only a Kiss soundtrack for company.

Quite what this all means in promotional terms remains foggy but in providing this prescient warning against over-imbibing caffeine Costa has performed an admirable public service. There you were thinking that coffee lent you a chic, sexy and mysterious air. No! You are not italian and you are not wearing Versace!

As with most other things us Brits have appropriated we've taken a delicate pastime and vulgarised it into a national obsession, glugging pints of lattes and displaying psychopathic tendencies all over the shop. Thank you Costa, you've shown us the error of our ways.

Costa advert. Photograph:
Photo: Getty Images
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The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.