Losers on sofas: a funny way to sell a snack

PETER YORK ON ADS: No 126: HULA HOOPS

WE'VE got used to Harry Enfield comic formats involving the Other One, the jockey-like, young-old one. But after the brilliant Fast Show we know who the other one is - he's called Paul Whitehouse, and he's created characters of his own - so we're starting to read the Hula Hoops commercials rather differently.

The Sarf London pair Enfield and Whitehouse play here are deeply pathetic: men who like to kick celebrities around verbally because there isn't a woman or dog about. They're powerless working-class men who fantasise about easy acquaintance with the famous (just as Derek and Clive rambled about Greta Garbo trying to climb in the window). They sit on a sofa that would have been old-fashioned for The Likely Lads, in a room decorated with a budgie, Hula Hoops packets open. They're pub potatoes at home, acting knowing.

"You've got to admire Campbell," says Whitehouse. "She's a super, super model." "She's pioneered change in the world of haute couture," responds the Enfield character.

And then - vertical take-off into stalker country - Whitehouse launches into fantasy: "But if she was going to pioneer changing the shape of Hula Hoops - triangularising them and wearing them as little earrings to attract me to be her husband ... I'd say, 'Oi! Campbell!' "

This provokes a psychopathic response from Enfield: "No ... Hula Hoops are round, they're staying round and they'll be around for ever." It's a very clever little exchange, very well played, full of the menace little boys like, just as they like Tango incidents.

It's good social observation and it's awash with attitude. But the golden rule used to be that you never associated a product directly with sad losers; still less with losers with irrational urges. That seems to have gone by the board now. Are there men on sad sofas who straightforwardly identify with this pair?

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