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April 26, 2010 / Nick

National Accident Helpline

Being a student, I see more daytime TV than most people. A long-term daytime advertising favourite have been the slapstick National Accident Helpline adverts.
The ads follow the same format:

  1. – Victim explains how they were going about their day to day business.
  2. – Victim is unexpectedly a victim of an accident that they probably could have anticipated if they had their wits about them.
  3. – Victim explains how difficult their life became after the accident.
  4. – Victim says “I phoned the National Accident Helpline and they got me [insert 4 figure cash sum]” while they remove a National Accident Helpline branded cheque from an envelope with their thumb covering the year of the cheque’s date.
  5. – The anonymous National Accident Helpline frontwoman appears, asking the daytime TV audience if they have had an accident and how they too could get no-win, no-fee, no-date cheque payouts.
  6. – Victim adds a utilitarian angle to the whole thing by explaining how suing those responsible for their accident has benefited society as a whole.

The anonymous National Accident Helpline frontwoman who appears in every advert and looks almost like a live-action version of Lindsey Naegle from The Simpsons is plastered all over their website too. Photographs of her next to things in quote marks must be quotes of course. And it seems she’s more expert in things than she lets on in the TV spots.

She knows about complicated legal terminology:

She knows how to advise those injured in the escort industry:

She even knows quotes from other anonymous people:

I think that given the space to flourish she could become a prominent figure on prime-time TV. She could even use the experience gained from doing these ads to get her face out there and into the heart of the Saturday night TV schedule:

The most recognised, and possibly longest running, of all the National Accident Helpline adverts is the case of Katy Freeman. She was walking through reception and the floor was wet. She fell and seriously injured her knee.

I’ve seen this ad many times. I think we’re meant to think that Katy has slipped in a puddle of water (presumably left by a negligent cleaner) but it looks to me more like she’s slipped in some kind of grease (presumably left by Dick Dasterdly to slow one of his pursuers down). Katy Freeman has become famous for being the ‘fringe woman with exploding handbag of crap‘. But what exactly is in her handbag?

Contents of Katy Freeman’s bag:

  • A hairbrush
  • A make-up blusher
  • A mascara stick
  • A bottle of some kind of liquid
  • An emery board
  • A pen
  • A pencil
  • At least one £2 coin and another £1 coin
  • A silver box
  • A compact mirror
  • Some keys
  • A box of painkillers (ironically)

So now you know.

The thing that strikes me about these adverts is how they don’t seem to know if they’re meant to be realistic or not. Granted, it’s pretty obvious to anybody that these aren’t real people and real accidents. On one hand, National Accident Helpline have gone to the effort of giving these people names and making up artificial, dateless cheques. But on the other hand, if these people were real, surely they wouldn’t want to relieve the trauma of their near-death experiences and potentially reopen old wounds for the sake of an advert reconstruction.

That said, thanks to these adverts I can say that if I was ever involved in an accident that wasn’t my fault, I know for certain which number I’d call first: 999.

Review: Laughter is the best medicine.


One Comment

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  1. Fabrizio / Oct 31 2014 4:16 pm

    Very interesting. Great job!

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