Into the Blue Stratos-sphere

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The Independent Culture
NEW CONSUMER techno-toys involving computers and communications are usually introduced to television audiences via ads with high production values, strong overtones of attitude, and some association with the new sensibility - the modern action that everyone wants a piece of.

Not so the Trafficmaster, a new device which tells drivers where the motorway jams are. Trafficmaster has dropped the aesthetic and the attitude, and gone instead straight for the Benefits (beat the queue, save stress, start later), the Deal (£149.99 down, and it "works out" at about £10 a month), and the Name-Check for the two fine retailers you can buy it from now.

It drops viewers squarely into Rep-Land, the modern commercial travellers' world that Nicholas Barker explored in one episode of his A to B: Tales of Modern Motoring (and later reprised in his Volkswagen commercials). The story couldn't be simpler - Baldy and Oldie, two benighted lower-middle manager/rep types, are stuck sweltering in a traffic jam somewhere near Birmingham. But Smoothie, a handsome British Airways Club Class-type, drinks his coffee while making the vital decision about the route to take - which he does by following the advice of a particularly absurd-looking, small green screen sitting beside his shiny, marmalade-coloured executive briefcase. This screen, so it appears, is responding to live information generated by sensors placed every two miles along Britain's motorways. Our Master of the Universe can then set off, in control.

No great commitment is required to buy into this Midlands mini-drama, this latter-day Crossroads. A little dab of something - Insignia, Blue Stratos - will do nicely. Then try Dixons or Tandy.

8 Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.