A CRITICAL GUIDE / York on Ads: No 17: Gossard Ultrabra

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The Independent Culture
THIS CAMPAIGN is famous before it starts. It's been furiously PR'd to national newspapers, and the tabloids, liking a bit of breast, have run the crucial still prominently. The background to the bra wars now raging is dry stuff, however. Gossard, after decades of lifting and expanding quite modest cleavages with its fabled Wonderbra, lost the licence to the name when it reverted to its original American owner. So it is advertising and PR-ing to attach the original proposition - the bigger look - to the Gossard brand and its new coinage, the Ultrabra.

The ad is utterly wonderful. We're at the cocktail party at the end of the world - an empty, pillared space painted mid-mauve with a blue ceiling. A latter-day Raquel Welch wearing a black Ultrabra under a power-dressing Eighties jacket, and a Sun Page Seven Fella-type in open shirt and stubble are eyeing each other up over the champagne flutes. Urban Contemporary backing track, lovely post-Dynasty feel, comprehensible in mud-huts everywhere.

In cuts a skinny-looking blonde with apparently comparable breasts, to both parties' irritation, and starts vamping Mr Wonderful. But she sneezes and Raquel extracts a magician's length of Andrex from her deflating front, grinning triumphantly. Hence the punchline: 'Knocks the stuffing out of other bras.' Meanwhile this gorgeous couple will be retiring elsewhere for congress of the kind suggested in the News of the World's new wife-swapping commercial, where bras are momentously unhooked.

This is how the concerns of shareholders, commercial lawyers and patent agents end up on the sexy small screen.

Videotapes supplied by Tellex Commercials.

(Photograph omitted)