First shown in 1987, this dog drama echoes every pre-war boys' book with animal heroes. It resonates with the Twilight Barking and other doggy communal themes and it looks like every kind of English painting from spare 18th-century hunting scenes to sentimental Victorian sticky oils of pooches and on to Edwardian illustration. It can reduce grown men to tears.
Like favourite romances, Winalot gives its dog stars a higher collective purpose. Two dogs are waiting, ears cocked for the signal. When it comes, dogs of all breeds and sizes race out, across what looks like the Lake District - no people or houses visible - up hills in silhouette, then brilliantly lit against lowering grey clouds, then sun-dappled through bushes. A small dog manages an effortless-looking jump over a gate; noble black dogs lead the pilgrimage into a lake.
It's positively Arthurian, the camerawork is wonderful and the dawn chorus with its introductory pipes and patriotic swell hits the mark exactly; we know they're doing it to save England even if the staggeringly banal voice-over implies they're after dog food, "a range that's nutritionally balanced and totally delicious, no wonder dogs will run all day for it", and - a real collectors' line, this - "if your dog loves meaty nutrition".
If the voice-over's pathetic, the pack-shot's worse, like a 1960s provincial grocery trade show: tins and packets grouped in a lifeless pyramid. It's all been quickly and cheaply imposed on the original glorious composition - now no doubt called a "brand property" - to launch a rather dull-looking new product range.
Years ago Julie Burchill said of the growing use of evocative pop in commercials that the advertisers were "mugging your memories". Winalot mugs a whole English collective unconscious - legends, books and pictures - for meaty nutrition.Reuse content