I'm watersweeping with joy

PETER YORK ON ADS: No 227: WATERSWEEP

"INFORMERCIALS" are long commercials which tell you what invaluable new devices can do for you. They then show you how they do it, then say it all again in capital letters, and finally ask you to send money, giving very precise directions. I rather like them and often want the goods they advertise, which are the sort of thing you also find in the Innovations catalogue: devices to clean in those inaccessible spots, storage systems for things you hadn't thought to store before.

Creative people, however, dislike infomercials. And most goods and services advertised now are incapable of interesting infomercial demonstration, either because they're abstract, like financial services, or because they have no interesting properties at all, like many unguents and cleansers.

But what creatives do like is spoofing commercials like that for the Watersweep. They like the excitable voice-overs, the archaic turns of phrase, the claims of amazing versatility - "converts to a shopping trolley with one easy movement" - and universal relevance, like those ads that used to say "for housewives, sportsmen, schoolchildren and pensioners". Creatives like the delicious naivete of the informercial tradition. They just don't want to have to make a real one.

The Watersweep is to brooms and hoses what powered lawnmowers are to the old manual cylinder job. Its hydro-powered broom, you see, is hydroscopically designed to push out in one direction only. And it's tremendously powerful: so powerful, indeed, that dirt gets blown away. It's a positive Clint Eastwood of cleaning devices, and very resonant for chaps. Garden and yard-proud people can do something really satisfying to their walkways and patios rather than staring at the ceiling.

All this is illustrated by film of the most brilliant anonymity - people so unmemorable, they might as well have had that mosaic device they use for witness protection on their faces; a home and yard that could've been anywhere from Tunbridge Wells to Toledo. Nothing distracts from the compelling sight of the Watersweep, this domestic water cannon, driving all filth before it.

At the end, the excitable voice-over goes through the litany:

- Order now!

- Exclusive offer!

- Only pounds 19.95!

- Return if not completely satisfied!

- Not in shops!

- Order now (again)!

I often think that a lifetime's supply of this kind of product could be the secret of happiness.

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