All together now: let's have a cup of char

PETER YORK ON ADS NO 239: TYPHOO
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The Independent Culture
As social ties dissolve, the only place we can come together as a nation - apart from down the pub during the World Cup - is in the fantasies of advertisers. "Everybody's doing it" is a well-worn advertising theme. We came together, from Lands End to John O'Groats, to tell Sid, and in a variety of other 1980s privatisation extravaganzas. We are united again, a nation of modest fun-loving folk, to celebrate the renewed freshness of Typhoo Tea.

This 19th-century branded blend has survived from the advertising world of enamel signs and continues to bring themes of trad Britishness into its advertising. Previous campaigns have featured firefighters and a variety of other Dunkirk Spirit types. The latest campaign simply shows how the wild contagion of American Eighties disco rhythm can seize a variety of normally restrained British types and really get them going for Typhoo.

This is, determinedly, a world of ordinary people as they used to be, in 1970s British sitcoms and other familiar places. A window cleaner, a woman ironing, a bus queue with a Jarvis Cocker lookalike (for Jarvis Cocker, being art-school, dresses in a most artfully ordinary way). There are workmen digging the street, jolly fat women with hairnets on a biscuit-factory packing line, footballers in a line-up holding their crotches. There are babies with jiggly legs, a jumping dog and a commuter crowd at what looks like Waterloo Station: cloth-capped, smiley old toothless blokes and an elderly Derby and Joan couple. It's the world of Esther's That's Life walkabouts and absolutely not the world of L'Oreal's I'm-worth-it commercials, the people of BA's Club Class or the Young Comedians' League.

The red-hot sound is Kool and the Gang's "Fresh", so gradually - for this is a long commercial - the lovely music gets them all as near Travoltine frenzy as you could reasonably expect from true Brits.

"Fresh! Exciting! So exciting to me." The point is that Typhoo now has fresher leaves, which are freshly packed (so what have they been doing for the last 100 years, selling us stale tea?).

But they've got a point, you can't beat the old tunes.

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