Be smart: take the colour and run

PETER YORK ON ADS; NO 275: DULUX PAINT

There's a passion that leads decent modern women to behaviour that is entirely out of character - anti-social, thoughtless, irresponsible. It started in the 1980s and it's running riot now. The new Dulux campaign catches Decormania very well: the search for the precise paint colour that takes respectable mums and clever working girls right out on to those wilder shores.

There are two treatments. In the first an attractive Modern Girl gets on the top of a bus. She looks intently at a rather plain, lumpish lad in front of her. He's got Grant Mitchell no-hair but no Grant Mitchell style or attitude. He's alone and he registers her looking at him, staring thoughtfully, intently. And then she gets up and moves directly behind him. By now he's looking thoroughly spooked - not daring to think he's scored, somehow knowing he isn't in her league, worrying that it could be embarrassing. His yellow hooded sweat-top looks nice enough, in an innocent way. He's absolutely nerved up.

She seems to move forward a bit and his eyes are rolling like crazy. But nothing happens. When they both get off, you can see he's worried that she's following him. As we see his back view, with his hood up against the rain, there's a hole in it about the size of an orange, neatly cut. Of course she isn't following; she's racing across the road to the Dulux paint shop.

Back in her flat it's all newly painted the egg-yolk yellow of his top. The Dulux dog walks into a shimmering yellow backdrop: "You find the colour. We'll match it."

The other treatment is more wicked yet, rather like the Gary Lineker crisp thefts. In a crowded public place a pretty pale black child of about two is sitting in her buggy. Pleasant Mrs Guildford approaches in a blazer and sensible-length skirt. This pillar of the Garden Committee's obviously a mum, with Robert doing his A-levels.

Honed instincts to the fore, she comes over to the child. "Hello beautiful," she says, bending to pick up the blue felt starfish the child has dropped. "Have you lost your toy?" But then the maternal expression fades, D-mania takes over, she stands up and walks away. She's stealing the toy. "Eurgh," murmurs the child in a vaguely disturbed way. Meanwhile you know what Mrs Guildford is doing in her starfish-blue bathroom.

These victims have been seduced and robbed in subtle ways by good people, and it's all disturbingly resonant for that growing group who have ever bought a lifestyle mag or longed for a deep blue bathroom.

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