One wedding and a building society

PETER YORK ON ADS; No 82: THE NATIONWIDE
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THE impact of Four Weddings and a Funeral on TV ads is predictable: they have always featured weddings by the boatload, so now all you have to do is add in a little of the tonality of the film - A Touch of Sloane.

The Nationwide provides a pretty average example. A reasonable-looking country church, a Rolls Royce radiator-mascot and, on-screen, "a wedding invitation from Nationwide" in ineffably non-U, pink, very scrolly copperplate set us up for the theme of changing one's mind, borrowed from the film's final wedding. Our groom has second thoughts about the sulky, barmaidy blonde he's marrying (a dead ringer for the young Joan Sims) and a yen for a couth dark girl, "Duckface" from the film. Joan is reversed back down the aisle and into space - a little trick we've seen somewhere before - and Duckface triumphs. The priest - of course - is Christopher Cazenove. (I can't remember him making even a cameo appearance in the film, but that's not the point. He's one of a small group of useful English actors who can serve as shorthand for WASP poshness absolutely anywhere - in Dynasty, building-society ads, anything. The way he looks and sounds could get the message across to Eskimos or Tuaregs.) Sadly, the tricks and borrowings overwhelm the voiceover, which concerns a dreary-sounding cooling-off facility (14 days to think about it if you put your money in a Nationwide savings account).

Twelve years after The Official Sloane Rangers Handbook, real posh remains a difficult area for ads. It's usually played OTT for laughs (or the director simply gets it hopelessly wrong) because the client's desperately afraid of looking stiff, snobby and over-niched. But Four Weddings re-presented Sloane as young, fun and popular, and meant the dread Ranger word need never be said.

! Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.

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