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Identity

Robert Dyas Just Changed The Fucking Game

Possibly the weirdest advert ever? But also the best?
December 14, 2015, 12:31pm

Hi, my name's Joel. I work at VICE and I'm straight. I'm completely fucking obsessed with this Robert Dyas video, and so are you, undoubtedly so are you, you've seen this video and I've seen it too, we connect on a deep level by virtue of the fact that we've seen the same kilobytes align in the same order, we have consumed the same one minute and two seconds of baffling media, tiny electric tendrils unseen connect my mind to yours and for a moment – gay, straight, or the other one – for a moment we are one:

You're only vaguely aware of Robert Dyas, aren't you? Robert Dyas exists in a oscillating grey space between the shops you know and the shops you don't. We can all call to mind the logos and the inventory of a Boots, a B&Q, a Holland & Barrett, an HMV. Hardy chain stores with clear and defined identities. But what is Robert Dyas? It does bits. It does bits you can buy in Argos but Argos is too mad to make the trip – the insane Argos system, the shop without a shelf, a shop made of little pens and tickets and laminated catalogues, a shop that is not in any way a shop – so you just sort of pop into Robert Dyas on the way. You know you need fairy lights so you walk around until you see a vaguely fairy light-looking shop. You know you need plates and get plates. You need a belt sander and an inflatable Minion figure and you only have time to visit one shop. You find yourself pulled like a magnet into the overlit heaven of a Robert Dyas.

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But now we all just remembered that Robert Dyas exists because it came out as gay, which I think on the whole is one of the most 2015 things to have possibly happened. A 95-strong chain of home and garden essentials stores coming out as gay is actually incredibly 2015, peak 2015. There are already, with certainty, people on Tumblr trying to sketch out a new sexuality based on this. Some 15-year-old brony with a fringe is having a sexual awakening about Robert Dyas. "Am I… shopposexual?" he's asking. "Maybe commercexual? There isn't a Wiki page about this. Sexuality is a minefield." He's asked his parents to join him in the lounge for a serious announcement: he wants to fuck Robert Dyas. His extremely conservative gun-owning dad has to go outside for a while and just scream.

Thing is, right, is this video is a parody of another video that nobody has really seen, this one, which kind of makes the entire concept of originality moot. The Robert Dyas advert is now the original advert, because it's ten or twelve times weirder and more baffling without the context, and the Red House video – despite the bizarre yacht-rock-in-an-abandoned-car-park interludes – does actually make some sort of loose sense, whereas the Robert Dyas advert is just— well, watch it again:

Highlights: the way Marcus, feet planted firmly on the floor, his hands a cathedral of faux confidence, says "I'm gay" in a way that even he doesn't sound convinced by; the Chekhov's Gun inflatable Minion figure which always seems to creep into shot but is never actually explained; the way James (straight) holds a pan in a way no human being has ever held a pan before, like it's the heaviest and most expensive banjo on the planet, and he is a five-year-old, and he is showing it to the Queen; the (straight) unnamed customer – I mean this thing seems to be made on a budget of "£30 or less", so they just rope a couple of customers in to pose by the cordless vacuums – saying "I love shopping at Robert Dyas", which is just a lie, madam, literally nobody loves shopping at Robert Dyas, they at worst endure it and at best don't even notice it, nothing about the affordable range of mops and kitchen gadgets can make anyone feel an emotion even approaching love, and if you have a husband or boyfriend you profess love to on the daily then I, if I were him, would suddenly be very offended that you use the same loaded word to admit all the emotion and feeling you have for him can be applied to Robert Dyas, which is primarily a place where you can buy buckets; the customer who says, firmly, "I'm gay, and I love shopping at Robert Dyas" while holding a small illuminated plastic Christmas ornament and very sincerely giving off the vibe that he's about to do something ill-advised with it; the exotic bisexual lady who's bang into her courgette spiraliser; the line "Robert Dyas, where gays and straights can buy drills"; the over-enthusiastic thumbs up Marcus (gay) does at the end. My head is in pieces and my sexuality is torn to shreds on the floor. I don't know what is up and what is down and what particular set of genitals I want to do stuff to anymore. This advert has ended me.

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But then in a world of £7 million John Lewis adverts about illuminati moon paedos, perhaps Robert Dyas' back-to-basics let's-just-be-gay-or-straight-in-a-shop-after-closing-time-and-go-viral-for-it approach is refreshing. Maybe this is the future of adverts: adverts that are just confusing professions of sexual preferences in the middle of a shop floor in the hour after the shop has closed, filmed for all I can tell on a fucking iPhone. "Hi, I'm John Boots, owner of Boots, and I'm bang into pegging"; "Hi, I'm Lisa from Primark, piss on me"; "It's me, Darren from Morrisons: it's important I tell you I fucked your beef joint." If this is the future, sign me up for it. If this is the future, I am down.

@joelgolby

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