Adwatch - No 81
Adwatch wishes to give a warm welcome to a new commercial for TV Easy listings magazine. This features a newsagent and some lady customers singing about the merits of this publication to the tune of Polka Dot Bikini, a song that added to the jollity of our childhood, along with that one about a bubble car whose horn went 'beep, beep, beep.'
It's an itsy bitsy,
goes the ad.
How good to see an unpretentious, traditional, downmarket commercial that 'knows where it's coming from', who it's talking to and conveys its message simply and directly.
Their target market is clearly tabloid-reading ladies who want something inexpensive, easy-to-use and with a bit of showbiz gossip. And using that particular song is going to evoke warm memories in ladies who have now joined the Saga generation. Aga ladies, on the other hand, and ABC1 males can stick to the Radio Times.
At the other end of the spectrum is the new Guinness commercial in which three drinkers time-travel backwards as the evolutionary clock is rapidly wound back through billions of years and a variety of life-forms to the primeval slime.
It's brilliantly made and is being much praised. Its director is probably already making room on his mantlepiece for the awards.
Yet this is one of those cases where the commercial becomes more important than the product. And what does it actually tell you about the product? Sweet FA.
The only message I can infer is that if you drink enough of the product you may eventually manifest the intellectual capacity of a single-cell organism. And yes, there's a definite truth in that though not one that the alcohol industry would normally draw attention to.
A second problem is that I can't see this commercial playing well with Creationists, given that it's a 30 second digest of Darwinism. If they ever show it in America, Bush will add Dublin to the Axis of Evil before you can say a Hail Mary.
And presumably the biggest consumers of Guinness are still Irish Catholics who must be Creationists at heart. It's true that they don't make as big a deal of Genesis as some other Christians, being more concerned with the rights of the foetus and the denial of rights to homosexuals, and often being so unfamiliar with the Bible that they may think Genesis is that band that Phil Collins used to be in.
Of course, none of this analysis matters if you accept the advertising industry's credo that the only thing that matters about a commercial is memorability.
But my personal view is that's there's enough cleverness, arty-fartyness, and sometimes pretentiousness in movie-making. All I want from commercials is a clear message about the product and a bit of music that's not too loud or irritating.
In other words, stick your art, your production values and your CGI up your arse and hit me with your rhythm schtick.