A CRITICAL GUIDE: STAYING IN / York on ads: No 25: Virgin Atlantic

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The Independent Culture
TERENCE STAMP is a person in his fifties admired by informed younger people for three things: being a legendary face in legendary Sixties times - 'icon' is the word people use now; for his menacing role as the made-it-big British entrepreneur in Wall Street; and for his autodidact's best-of-everything taste - a set in Albany, Lobb shoes, and so on. He is a little like Adam Faith, and you reckon that he'll know what's what from the inside. And I've never seen him in a commercial before . . .

This highly focused authority is used to great effect in the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class commercials where Stamp, shot in a moody jump-cut Nicolas Roeg-ish style, tells you how to choose between airlines on long-haul flights. He does it in a confiding, conspiratorial way, in close-up: 'Right, you're flying long-haul in Business Class, you've got a choice of two airlines . . .' And then, notwithstanding the relaxed style and the moody shots, he starts to sell the two key advantages of Virgin Upper Class very hard, in two separate treatments. In the first, it's the smart car that collects you; in the second, it's getting a First Class seat at Business Class prices.

The use of Stamp and the style of direction - odd things go on at the corner of the frame; the limousine is framed in a shepherd's-warning red sky; the plane's cabin interior at night is shot like something out of Performance - add atmosphere to the rather de-glamorised business of flying. They suggest that you can grow up - make money, keep to schedules, make hard decisions about value - without losing cool. Peter York

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(Photograph omitted)