PETER YORK ON ADS: Keep drinking the beer, lads

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The Independent Culture
NOW THAT EVERYONE'S trading their Seventies popular-culture memories, I feel I should add a tiny one of my own. The old commercial for Worthington E, a form of beer, featured a) a song about "those wonderful friends you'll remember forever" and b) a group of friends, which included women just as if they were ordinary people.

This was, I submit, a major advance at a time when all hoardings north of Watford featured Tetley Bittermen and completely unselfconscious, non-spoofy blokerama ruled in the advertising output of the beerage.

So it's a turn-up for the books that now Worthington's is back advertising for the first time in ages. And it's doing so with a wholly spoofy "when you're a boy" theme: namely, that the difference between men and women is Worthington. To prove this point, they've employed some of those hyper- real worse-than-ordinary types - wrong hair, wrong T-shirts - to stand around in a pub doing blokes-together joshing things to avoid their manly feelings getting the better of them.

A loaded-lad voiceover explains: "Lads, all drinking fabulous pints of creamy Worthington. If they didn't, they'd compliment each other." And we see a caring exchange in a gents' (done up as a powder room with purple deep-buttoned walls) in which Bloke One asks Bloke Two if he's lost weight, and Bloke Two admires Bloke One's latter-day Jeff Beck hair, touching it appreciatively. "This," says the voice-over, "would result in an unhealthy fascination with skin creams."

We see a young man who looks like Pee Wee Herman with an older friend who looks like Steve Martin having cream rubbed into his hand by a male cosmetics salesman. Now slippery oils like these, if left on a lad's hand, "could easily overcome the friction between hand and pint of Worthington and - oh no you've got the terrible crime of spillage ... tragedy."

So that is why lads do joshing, to keep them from that side of life. Worthington, it's a man thing now.