Adwatch - No.104
I suppose one measure of success for a commercial is when a slogan or strapline passes into common currency.
The most successful one of recent years has been Ronseal's 'It does exactly what it says on the tin.'
Oh, there's another one, courtesy of Carlsberg.
I hate to puncture the copywriter's pride again (I'm lying. I like nothing better) but when these phrases insinuate themselves into everyday speech they quickly break free of the ropes that tether them to the brand.
Ask people where 'it does what it says on the tin' comes from and I bet that a lot of them couldn't do better than 'that ad on the telly about varnish'.
Many young people today, if you ask them if they're enjoying their meal or if they like the CD you gave them for their birthday, will not reply "Yes, it's very nice thank you, Uncle Willie" but 'I'm Lovin' It'.
I've no doubt that some of them go further and sing 'I'm Lovin' It' to the tune of the McDonald's jingle. I should warn such people that if they do this in my vicinity they may find themselves wiping my vomit off their T shirt.
Still, grudging McBrownie Points to the agency I suppose.
A current TV commercial for McDonald's features a young couple in bed. The man goes out to McDonald's to fetch a McDonald's breakfast. He evidently lives very close to a McDonald's which can't have done much for the value of his flat. Piles of polystyrene cartons in the doorway, Filet-O-Fish smeared over the windows, teenagers warbling 'I'm Lovin' It' late at night: these things can knock a few grand off your asking price. But I digress.
The young woman thinks he's prepared her breakfast in bed himself. It can't be from McDonald's, she says, because they don't do bagels. The woman is either intellectually challenged or hasn't put her contact lenses in because the clue is in the brown plastic McDonald's tray that he places on the bed. I didn't know you were allowed to take those trays home with you, but we'll let that pass. The golden arches on the paper napkin might be another giveaway but this woman is clearly no Poirot.
Given that she's as thick as two quarterpounders stood on top of each other, it's a mystery why he doesn't let her think he cooked the breakfast himself. It's not as though schlepping round to the nearest McDonald's bears any relation to the Herculean labours of the Milk Tray Man. And somehow 'all because the lady loves mass-produced junk food' doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
Never having subscribed to the view that 'it's the thought that counts', I have to say that if someone plonked a tray of McPap on my bed in the morning, it wouldn't matter that I'd spent the previous six hours sighing ecstatically 'I'm Lovin It!' - they'd be out on their arse before you could say 'regular fries'.
But the McDonalds woman appears to think this is the most romantic thing anyone has ever done.
"I love you!" she says.
They both freeze. The woman looks horrified. The man freezes with a McBagel halfway in his mouth. And it's not because he's just remembered that he nicked one of their trays.
The woman has said the 'L' word.
She has said it inadvertently and in the casual, everyday sense of expressing appreciation of a good deed. But he might not realise that and might think that she actually loves him and that could ruin everything.
Jesus McChrist! What have I said? What am I like?
If I'm right, this commercial reflects an intriguing new phenomenon in relationships.
In the past, telling someone you loved them was a necessary precursor to getting your leg over. But today, love is the word that dares not speak its name. When the 'L' word slips out, the shagging stops.
I first registered this change in sexual mores when watching Paul Abbott's brilliant comedy drama 'Shameless'. Lip Gallagher is having regular 'no strings' sex with the daughter of his father's girlfriend. Then one day he accidentally utters the 'L' word. They Think It's All Over and it very nearly is. He spends a long time insisting that he didn't mean it and that he has no feelings for her at all. Eventually the girl is reassured that there is no danger of love coming between them and spoiling that many-splendoured thing called sex and the shagfest is able to continue.
Of course, the McMuffin munching couple wouldn't realise that they were presenting a McParadigm of the dynamics of inter-personal relationships in post-McModernist culture.
We can only hope that the woman was able to eat her words along with her McBagel and wash them down with her McLatte without any further complications.