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 Fire Brigades Union reaffiliates to Labour - what does it mean?

Any union rejoining Labour will be welcomed by most in the party - but the impact on the party's internal politics will be smaller than you think.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has voted to reaffiliate to the Labour party, in what is seen as a boost to Jeremy Corbyn. What does it mean for Labour’s internal politics?

Firstly, technically, the FBU has never affliated before as they are notionally part of the civil service - however, following the firefighters' strike in 2004, they decisively broke with Labour.

The main impact will be felt on the floor of Labour party conference. Although the FBU’s membership – at around 38,000 – is too small to have a material effect on the outcome of votes themselves, it will change the tenor of the motions put before party conference.

The FBU’s leadership is not only to the left of most unions in the Trades Union Congress (TUC), it is more inclined to bring motions relating to foreign affairs than other unions with similar politics (it is more internationalist in focus than, say, the PCS, another union that may affiliate due to Corbyn’s leadership). Motions on Israel/Palestine, the nuclear deterrent, and other issues, will find more support from FBU delegates than it has from other affiliated trade unions.

In terms of the balance of power between the affiliated unions themselves, the FBU’s re-entry into Labour politics is unlikely to be much of a gamechanger. Trade union positions, elected by trade union delegates at conference, are unlikely to be moved leftwards by the reaffiliation of the FBU. Unite, the GMB, Unison and Usdaw are all large enough to all-but-guarantee themselves a seat around the NEC. Community, a small centrist union, has already lost its place on the NEC in favour of the bakers’ union, which is more aligned to Tom Watson than Jeremy Corbyn.

Matt Wrack, the FBU’s General Secretary, will be a genuine ally to Corbyn and John McDonnell. Len McCluskey and Dave Prentis were both bounced into endorsing Corbyn by their executives and did so less than wholeheartedly. Tim Roache, the newly-elected General Secretary of the GMB, has publicly supported Corbyn but is seen as a more moderate voice at the TUC. Only Dave Ward of the Communication Workers’ Union, who lent staff and resources to both Corbyn’s campaign team and to the parliamentary staff of Corbyn and McDonnell, is truly on side.

The impact of reaffiliation may be felt more keenly in local parties. The FBU’s membership looks small in real terms compared Unite and Unison have memberships of over a million, while the GMB and Usdaw are around the half-a-million mark, but is much more impressive when you consider that there are just 48,000 firefighters in Britain. This may make them more likely to participate in internal elections than other affiliated trade unionists, just 60,000 of whom voted in the Labour leadership election in 2015. However, it is worth noting that it is statistically unlikely most firefighters are Corbynites - those that are will mostly have already joined themselves. The affiliation, while a morale boost for many in the Labour party, is unlikely to prove as significant to the direction of the party as the outcome of Unison’s general secretary election or the struggle for power at the top of Unite in 2018. 

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