Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Rear Of The Year-ers: 1982

In early 1982, Saatchi and Saatchi were called in to ‘re-brand’ The Rear of the Year competition, the hope being that a change of image would help it become a global industry rather than a national institution. After a lengthy consultation, the competition was renamed ‘Arse of the Year’, in order to give it a more contemporary, daring and adult identity, although how this colloquialism was going to appeal to an international market is anyone’s guess. It was the eighties, there was a lot of cocaine about.
Already compromised, the campaign suffered a fatal blow when 90% of the promotional material was discovered to mistakenly feature the term ‘Arsehole of the Year’. Unable to publicly admit their mistake, and already two million pounds out of pocket, the organisers were forced to go with what they had. The British public voted in their droves, and, clearly still angry about the recently finished Falklands war, over fifteen million people voted for Argentinian dictator General Galtieri, who beat Jim Davidson into second place by one hundred and fifty votes.
Galtieri had the 'cheek' to turn up to collect the award in person, controversially appearing on Russell Harty (where he sang a medley of tunes from 'My Fair Lady' with Lorraine Chase and a clearly uncomfortable Roger Moore). On the second night of his stay at the Dorchester, an Argentinian flag was run up the hotel flagpole and Galtieri announced to the world that from now on the five star hotel would be called the Dorchinas. Galtieri and his retinue were quietly removed the following evening by a small group of elite assault troops led by Lewis Collins.

Needless to say, the competition returned to its old title in 1983, when it was won by Stu Francis of ‘Crackerjack’ fame*.

* Even this seemingly innocuous choice led to problems: at the after awards party, Francis was brought to tears by the bullying of Michael Barrymore, who mockingly forced Francis to crush grapes, jump over a doll's house and test drive a Tonka while Barrymore and his entourage jeered at him and pretended to 'wank off' the award. The live transmission was cut after twenty five minutes.         

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