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: youtube.com
Photo: Getty
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Who will win the Copeland by-election?

Labour face a tricky task in holding onto the seat. 

What’s the Copeland by-election about? That’s the question that will decide who wins it.

The Conservatives want it to be about the nuclear industry, which is the seat’s biggest employer, and Jeremy Corbyn’s long history of opposition to nuclear power.

Labour want it to be about the difficulties of the NHS in Cumbria in general and the future of West Cumberland Hospital in particular.

Who’s winning? Neither party is confident of victory but both sides think it will be close. That Theresa May has visited is a sign of the confidence in Conservative headquarters that, win or lose, Labour will not increase its majority from the six-point lead it held over the Conservatives in May 2015. (It’s always more instructive to talk about vote share rather than raw numbers, in by-elections in particular.)

But her visit may have been counterproductive. Yes, she is the most popular politician in Britain according to all the polls, but in visiting she has added fuel to the fire of Labour’s message that the Conservatives are keeping an anxious eye on the outcome.

Labour strategists feared that “the oxygen” would come out of the campaign if May used her visit to offer a guarantee about West Cumberland Hospital. Instead, she refused to answer, merely hyping up the issue further.

The party is nervous that opposition to Corbyn is going to supress turnout among their voters, but on the Conservative side, there is considerable irritation that May’s visit has made their task harder, too.

Voters know the difference between a by-election and a general election and my hunch is that people will get they can have a free hit on the health question without risking the future of the nuclear factory. That Corbyn has U-Turned on nuclear power only helps.

I said last week that if I knew what the local paper would look like between now and then I would be able to call the outcome. Today the West Cumbria News & Star leads with Downing Street’s refusal to answer questions about West Cumberland Hospital. All the signs favour Labour. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.