PETER YORK ON ADS

No 116: LUKCY LOTTERY
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IF anything testifies to the notion of Britain as a casino society, it's the extraordinary emotional investment middle-class people make in the Lottery and its various cousins, and in the symbols these activities have generated. The National Lottery has the Flying Finger of Fate, the NHS Lottery has its flags and drums - but the Lukcy Lottery has Lady Luck herself and, like the Angel of Death, she appears to people in extreme situations.

So we have an old man with remarkable dentition, in a wasp-striped woolly, on a gorgeous, deserted white-sand beach, below an improbably blue sky. He's casting about with a metal detector, and finds some kind of gold sovereign affair the size of a small saucer. That's the signal for something of a commotion at sea: a strange figure emerges, walking on water, and Tom Jones starts singing "She's a Lady" at full tilt.

This Lady Luck is fully clothed, a figure more Panto than Ursula Andress. She's in silver lame, with a great many floaty, scarfy, trailing bits to it; on her silver skull-cap are radiating silvery quills that look exactly like those Sixties novelty fibre-lamps. This is a lady with elaborate stage make-up and long fingernails, got up like the Something Queen in a book of stage cuttings (in fact she looks very like the late Marti Caine as the Red Queen in a recent panto). Anyway, this apparition appears to our elderly beachcomber, gives him a scratchcard, and thumbs her nose at him.

In another more dramatic ad, she appears in a blaze of light to a young man who has cheated death in a plummeting lift when its fall is halted by a 50p-piece. The treatment, incidentally, is in the style of Dennis Potter's Lipstick on Your Collar - period lift, period building, Fifties people.

The Lukcy commercials ignore the two mainstream trends of British advertising - humour-with-attitude and special effects - in favour of a distinctive theatrical approach. It's curiously old-fashioned looking and rather likeable, but Lady Luck may scare your four-year-old.

! Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.

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