PETER YORK ON ADS: No 103:AT&T

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The Independent Culture
LENS-FRAMED as if for assassination, or at least some snatched tabloid photo-spread, we see a grand old European plutocrat with everything. He's got a huge Riviera house, the perfect shuttered villa, a private beach, a wonderful terrace. He's got a rich background: his sailor-suited childhood self is silver-framed by the bedside. He's got a happy foreground too, with a grandchild in his arms. He's labelled the Ex-Chief Executive, but it's clear he's more than that: he's been The Owner of one of those huge reclusive Euro-corporations.

He's immensely fortunate, but according to the new AT&T ad, you can have something over him, something whose absence has tinged his life with regret. A soft interrogator - sounding awfully like Desmond Wilcox - teases it out of him. Soon he's describing the aching void: "sometimes it took days to get information back".

"Did you achieve everything you wanted?" asks Desmond. Our man smiles wistfully. "Did you have the technology you wanted?" More wistful looks. "Did you have computers?" "Oh yes." "Did you have them linked to communications?" "No, we could not do that."

And here we have it: the lack of complete on-lineness, wiredness, has blighted this poor old party's life. Perhaps that's why he's the Ex-Chief Executive. Desmond continues cruelly: "But you can have it now."

"It is too late now."

Then his speedboat does a dolphin leap into anoth er frame and slo-mo- slithers out again, and one of those deep-voiced authoritative women with a World at War voice-over sound tells you that "you can have it now, the communications you need - because life's too short."

It all looks wonderful: the misty impressionist beach, the detailing of the house and garden and the casting of the old party are all very well observed. But the central premise - that a life without new communications is a wasted one - looks a little like overclaiming when you see quite how much the Old World has to offer.

! Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.

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