More Evils of Advertising
The Global Financial Crisis of 2007-08 is one of the defining events of our century so far and one whose consequences continue to this day. The immediate effects - banks being nationalised; City folk being made unemployed; City pubs being slightly quieter on a Thursday - were replaced by austerity; social and fiscal breakdown; food banks and, arguably, a rise in socio-political disaffection.
Most experts agree that the crisis was sparked by the overselling of sub-prime mortgages in the USA. Unscrupulous financial organisations would agree mortgages with clients who had little or no hope of ever repaying them. This led to collateralised debt obligations (CDOs), credit default swaps (CDSs) and other complicated financial acronyms.
It also led to new and tough regulations on banks and building societies across the world so that the naughtiness which caused all the problems in the first place could be avoided going forward. With their knuckles stinging from the wooden rulers of various financial standards authorities, the banks and building societies agreed to behave.
So you can imagine my surprise when a TV advert appears on British television in which a building society agrees to an apparently considerable mortgage for the cartoon character, Top Cat.
Top Cat, as everyone with even a passing interest in the early 60s output of the Hanna-Barbera studios knows, is the very last person/cat you would lend a huge chunk of money. He has no discernible means of regular income, is consistently in trouble with the local police for a series of dodgy scams and, more worryingly, is a stranger to trousers. And yet, this shady character manages to secure a loan for a sizeable dustbin, albeit in a downmarket part of town.
If another financial crash comes at any point during the next, say, 12 years, I believe that future historians will be able to trace its causes back to the advertising industry's wanton disregard for accuracy and a lack of credit checks on animated cats.