ETCETERA / York on ads: No 15: The Rank Organisation

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The Independent Culture
THIS WEEK I fell to wondering why Lord Attenborough - 'Dickie' to his friends - should choose now to tell us about the wonders of the Rank Organisation. And why in such a particularly cosy, lovable and just slightly archaic fashion? Normally, adverts for leisure conglomerates try to present them as at the leading edge of technology and youth culture. The object is to make City folk feel that here is a dynamic share worth buying.

But the Rank advertising seems downright nostalgic. It presses all the traditional Rank buttons - ones which might look a trifle odd to your average 30-year-old broker's analyst. We get Odeons, caravans and coach tours, we get Butlins and Top Rank. We even get the J Arthur Rank gong man, oiled and gleaming in a decent, manly, Fifties way. The whole thing is clearly presented as Rank's corporate history, with Dickie in the editing suite, in beard and Aran sweater.

The clue is in the sign-off: 'No one knows more about entertaining the British.' Who exactly would be interested in knowing how thoroughly leisure-orientated, Brit-focused and historically decent Rank is? Could it be the ministers, civil servants and advisers concerned with choosing which of eight consortia of mighty businesses (one of which Rank happens to be heading) should run the National Lottery?

Other individual members of certain other consortia, it has been suggested, fall short on some of these key factors. Rank appears to ooze them. And who is the City and the Establishment's favourite chairman for thesp-related activity? Lord Aran Sweater again.

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(Photograph omitted)