Peter York on AD's: Let's hear it for his master's choice

NO 274: JAFFA CAKES
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The Independent Culture
Men are silly; they're like children. Dogs are funny. These are two central tenets of advertising thought. Silly man-child with dog therefore means very funny. And the fact is that the new McVities Jaffa Cakes commercial, which works to this formula, actually is rather funny.

The production design is fabulous. It's the garden of a house in what has to be East London overspill Essex (Dagenham? Romford?) surrounded by other similar houses. But it's an utterly surreal kind of ordinariness - absolutely no imposed Eighties art-school wacky, no funny colours - because of this house's flat blankness, the shadowless lighting, the choice of concrete chequered paving, the banal raw woven-wood fencing and the squelchy, muddy, flattened inadequate lawn. It's the setting for a kind of canine obstacle course of slopes, tunnels, car tyres, walls, hurdles and swings, clearly devised by an obsessed 11-year-old as a train-set substitute. Best of all, it's mostly painted up as brickwork with a very approximate hand.

In this lovely place a Jack Dee lookalike with an even more 11-year- old kind of voice is putting the John Smith's dog - ie, a black and white mutt - through its paces. The crazed creature, eager to please, jumps, crawls, slides and chases its tail, urged on by Jack, 32 going on 11, and overlooked by Jack's wife-mother from the kitchen window. "Go and get the treat. Look at him go, wayhay! Don't get stuck. Go on, Ossie, I know you can do it." We know that men who address their dogs as football teams are sad.

The final element in the obstacle course is a phallic - in this case it really has to be - concrete pillar affair. Of course, brave little Ossie can't jump to the top and of course he looks funny and winsome when he fails: discomfited small dogs always do.

At this point masterful Jack makes his way over, takes a Jaffa Cake from the top of the pillar and eats it selflessly. "It's the last time I'm going to show you this trick," he says putting the final Jaffa Cake on the column, while Ossie sits at his feet making that funny reproachful little dog whimper noise.

The pack shot is actually a plate-shot, the Jaffa Cake glowing orange while Chris Eubank - can it really be him? - says Jaffa Cakes are "deliciously self-centred". (This is quite a mouthful for a confirmed lisper.) But what he means is they're profoundly infantilising.

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