After a longish period, with not much happening at all, the last week has been a particularly good time for reviews of my 'nostalgedy...
Thursday, 12 August 2010
Give Me a Commercial Break - Part 1
think it was the talking sleeve that finally provided the straw that booked the camel into the spinal injuries unit.
My theme here, ladies and gentlemen, is advertisements on television and radio. Before I go any further, I should say that these often provide the best form of entertainment in both media and are frequently superior to the programmes that they support, but there are exceptions…
Like the talking sleeve. I know that television advertisements are not necessarily national, so this particular innovation may have passed you by. The essentials of the story are that a family, apparently crippled with a multitude of health problems, are on a car journey and find themselves lost on a road in a thickly wooded part of the countryside. The reason that they are lost, it transpires, is that the mother of the family is unable to read the map despite having lenses in her glasses that would double as the bottoms of jam jars. Whilst fretting over her optical shortcomings, she takes the opportunity to also worry about the other health problems affecting her family, such as her husband (back – which he indicates by clutching his shoulder and wincing) and her children (teeth – precious few of them left and prime candidates for dentures before puberty I shouldn’t wonder). Apparently the modern innovation of the NHS is an alien concept to this poor lady and she is reduced to taking health care advice (in the form of the initials of the health care company concerned) from the sleeve of her cardigan, which has miraculously (and rather annoyingly) gained the ability to talk. Comfortingly, another car passes by, also equipped with a talking cardigan sleeve, so she is clearly not alone in her choice of medical advice.
This advert (and if you haven’t yet seen it, I would urge you to seek it out) has only served to convince me that the makers of these 30 second wonders tend to fall into two camps. The first camp consists of those who really want to make a feature film but haven’t been ‘discovered’ yet. For them, each advertisement is an opportunity to show the world what they could achieve if only they were let loose on something they could really get their teeth into (an ambition that will forever be beyond the children with the talking sleeve). The second camp is made up of those who are convinced that the rest of the world is populated by idiots, hence such things as the talking sleeve.
The first camp design adverts of breathtaking beauty and artistic elegance which leave the average viewer wondering what it was all about. These were probably the same gang who designed those poster adverts for cigarettes back in the 1980s. Do you remember those? The only way you could tell that they were for cigarettes at all was by the Government Health Warning at the bottom. I’ll bet they were doubled up with laughter at the sheer irony, back at the advertising agency.
The second camp, like the poor, have always been with us. If memory serves me correctly, ever since we first had a television in the late 1950s, a certain brand of washing powder has been getting whites whiter than the previous version of the same powder. Surely, there has to come a point when it just can’t get things any whiter without risking the eyesight of its customers? Or will some poor, unsuspecting person open their washer one day and lurch back, hands clutching their face screaming “Oh My God, the whiteness, my eyes! My eyes!”