PETER YORK ON ADS

NO.114: HYUNDAI
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The Independent Culture
STUDENTS of Cultural Studies could have a field day with Hyundai's current Lantra ad, and I recommend it for their dissertations: there are just so many sub-texts, principally thoughts on the theme of appropriation.

We start in a smart, modern design office: grey-blue, reductive, careful, pretty characterless and with everything squared off. A Non-Specific Oriental designer sits pensive at his drawing board, set against Venetian blinds, when into his NSO head come flooding these gorgeous images from the past: images from Europe and America, from a different aesthetic and a different medium.

The images are old film-clips of beautiful big-breasted women from the pre-silicone age. So we have Monroe in a tight white-lace show-costume; Sophia Loren as a dancing gypsy; Anita Ekberg in the fountain scene from La Dolce Vita; and another (rear-view) shot of Monroe from Some Like It Hot. Not even Beavis and Butt-Head could call them Babes. They're the real thing. And the ostensible theme of this is that our designer-type is inspired by these women to create a "curvy car". But, thereafter, work as the director might with clever angles and quick cuts, the screen starts to look boring - since one modestly priced blue saloon shot in blank studio-space looks pretty much like another.

To finish, we have more borrowed film interest: another screen beauty, Vivien Leigh (not so opulently curved, I thought), seeming to reach out of Gone With the Wind to slap the designer for his saucy inspirations.

It's a simple, effective gag, relying on some well-chosen clips. But it's potentially so much more than that. It's about buttoned-up black- shirted designer-types' habit of sampling from the past in that very cold, techno way; it's about the South- east Asian take on a completely different culture and aesthetic; it's about advertising's guilty relationship with film. And there's certainly plenty left over for the Gender Studies class.

! Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.

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