IS IT A BIRD? NO, IT'S A PLAIN ANGEL

PETER YORK ON ADS
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The Independent Culture
FOR years the Simple skincare brand has been positioned around niceness ("not perfumed, not coloured, just kind"). Its mainstream advertising is resolutely pallid, high-avoidance and virginal, targeting the kind of woman who worries about foreign bodies. It's a million miles away from the associations of colour cosmetics - ie paint - and heavy glamour.

This low-key imagery fits the parallel universe of UK Living, a satellite strand devoted to women's interests. In this low-stress, low-ad-rates world, a brand like Simple can demonstrate its products in leisurely advertorial fashion for 120 seconds, rather as it might in a more modest women's magazine.

So we have Jane Cabburn, a "beauty therapist" with gingery hair, c 1979, nattering on about the importance of skincare, against a soft-tone, late-Seventies-looking set with a balcony. Jane explains that she lives to help all kinds and all conditions of people; then we focus on her consultation with a client called Angel. The thing is . . . Angel is an obvious transvestite, with industrial-strength make-up and a very camp turn of phrase.

So our Jane says, with stunningly subtle double entendre, "we'll strip you off and see what we've got". On goes the eye make-up remover and the foaming facial wash (and off come the batwing eyelashes) and through the paint we begin to see the fresh pink skin of something much more like a real girl. But Jane's sense of drama is undeterred. At the end she whips off Angel's headband and wig to reveal someone considerably more effeminate than Julian Clary. "Angel, I think you've been revealed," she says triumphantly.

The preferred paint-stripper of drag queens is a rather odd new dimension for the Simple brand personality. Perhaps they fear it's getting a bit dull.

8 Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.

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