On the job, in the bath

PETER YORK ON ADS: No 226: VW PASSAT
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The Independent Culture
THE NERD-U-LIKE approach is an interesting byway of modern advertising. I first noticed it about six years ago with Norman Nerd, the insurance kinda guy who just couldn't stop doing actuarial anticipations. So he'd foresee and forestall 100 little comic accidents that beset suburban life - the plummeting railway-station clock, the clumsy reverse. He was utterly obsessional and boring and therein lay his heroism. It was a clever way of turning the boredom of the sector into an advantage.

Volkswagen have been working this rich seam recently; taking the wholly credible notion that Wolfsburg is full of graduate engineers, technicians and assembly-line workers with triple City & Guilds equivalents who just love their jobs and whose every waking moment is dedicated to perfecting, say, the window-locking mechanism, or reducing the weight of plastic water- bottles.

The logical development is that these men take their work home with them. So we have 20 seconds of a VW middle-manager in the bath, captured on black and white time-coded video (25.12.95), anguishing about the new Passat. He sits up (decently clouded by murky water); he sits back; he thumps his forehead; he says inaudible things to himself - continuing a dialogue begun in Engineering Design Laboratory Block 2 - and he's somewhere between resignation and despair. But we know it's ended well. This sort of thing, incidentally, depends on a brilliant sound recordist to give it verisimilitude - dripping, splashing and muffled mutters echoing in small spaces. A prize for this unsung techie, I say.

! Video supplied by Tellex Commercials

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