PETER YORK ON ADS

No 101: COURTS
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The Independent Culture
IF THEY revived that Brentford Nylons commercial with Alan Freeman now it'd be done in a knowing way, with a sub-text of comment on all that gloriously hammy below-stairs advertising. Creative folk have gentrified and clevered-up advertising no end, and retail designers and merchandisers have gentrified and themed and clevered-up multiple shopping, so that real unreconstructed working-class taste is positively endangered on the High Street.

But Courts, the multiple furnishers, continue to make a brave stand against the poncey bland-out. Their new commercial has all the values of the British Empire Light Entertainment Department variety slot, a sort of Billy Cotton Band Show mid-Sixties look, but in living colour.

And it has Brucie. Bruce Forsyth is shorthand for all that: for the Palladium world, for those Mum-and-Dad game shows and for British TV's surviving links with playing the halls. When he goes that'll be it.

The ad uses all this iconography to death, but although the creatives were presumably wetting themselves at all the hokey old stuff not a flicker of attitude betrays it.

Theatre curtains open to reveal a "TV studio" set. Blue spotlights catch Brucie running downstairs and launching into an ingenious version of "If they could see me now".

It's the Courts Millionaire promotion and he's on about the gorgeous things you can get if you play your cards right. He's joined by these showgirls in top hats, tails and high-cut costume in the brightest, most fluorescent blue satin imaginable. Is this the joke or the budget?

Some modest kicking routines follow while various prizes are spotlit to illustrate Bruce's little song ("Goodbye to blues on your luxury cruise"). It's all rather low-voltage. At the end he says, damply, that he had to make a song and dance about it.

For a generation raised on the high- impact vulgarities of the clever New Yobs it must seem too authentic by half.

! Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.

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