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The Independent Culture

SOME brands, or so a certain type of upscale advertising would seek to tell you, are eternal ... classics. Some events, so the same breed of advertising says, are landmarks, just like the opening of the Royal Academy's summer exhibition and the Spectator's summer party (or even David Frost's).

Harrods' sale advertising aims to put this bi-annual commercial event in the same repertoire most cleverly, using a variety of devices both obvious and compelling.

The first is consistency; they've been running the current ad on television and posters, apparently unchanged, for years now.

The second is great simplicity and elegance - the look almost of an animated version of a print ad in, say, Harpers & Queen. Good classical typefaces appear reversed out on a black screen. "The Time" is symbolised by a handsome French 18th-century clock, tartly wrapped; "The Date" by a Victorian mahogany desk-calendar; "The Place", less obviously, by that almost spherical department-store soap that you buy in boxes of six; "The Sale" by the special French Grey carrier bags.

The third device for adding tone is opera, and you can't go wrong with Handel - in this case the ever popular "Lascia ch'io pianga" from Rinaldo (which, so I'm told, also crops up as the backing to an up-market ice- cream commercial).

There is also the little matter of the absolute claim "There is only one Harrods, there is only one sale". Deep lovers of Selfridges, Peter Jones and Harvey Nichols might dispute this. Some older residents of SW1 and SW3 may desribe the latter-day Harrods as anything but simple and elegant. Some indeed claim to leave London when the flood of Vitara Jeeps gums up Cadoganshire. But the advertising itself is irreproachably classy, and Harrods should be eternally grateful to its inventors for anything so flattering and so durable.

! Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.