Peter York on Ads

No.104: UBS
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The Independent Culture
CORPORATE advertising - the kind that parades the resolve, high- mindedness and dignity of corporations rather than the lower-brow and more immediate satisfactions of their products - usually appears in the News at Ten break and there's usually a reason for it, like an upcoming share issue or a bad press. The object is to convince the opinion-forming senior-businessman classes that here is a company so big, so clever and so solid it's completely stormproof. This usually involves a degree of gravitas rarely found in consumer ads.

I don't know exactly why UBS - the Union Bank of Switzerland - is advertising on the Eurosport cable channel, but the tone of the commercial is entirely to form: mature British thesps reading familiar Golden Treasury slugs of English Literature to a background of swelling Holst.

The two I've seen are on the theme of the right decision at the right time - the "there is a tide in the affairs of men" speech from Julius Caesar and the one about "the path less travelled".

The English Thesps - Sir John Gielgud and Alan Bates - are shot in a most composed Public Ser- vice Broadcasting style, in blue-tinted monochrome to look especially deep. No sharp camerawork here. The moral is a simple one: wisdom derives from unutterable durability; Gielgud is very durable (90-plus now); Alan Bates something of a national treasure already; the literary nuggets and Holst well-worn and widely loved; and Swiss banks steeped, by association, in rocky tradition. The UBS pay-off line is "here today, here tomorrow".

I imagine this goes down a treat with the treasurers of American multi- nationals based in Brussels, even though in Blighty it might be seen as just a teeny bit ... Wallace Arnold.

! Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.