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The Independent Culture
IS this it then? The ad Hugh Grant so gallantly promoted? The commercial which earned Liz Hurley her million?

I don't know exactly what I was expecting from the Estee Lauder Pleasures ad, but it was certainly more. More of Liz, and certainly more of the New English look she represents.

What we see is Miss Hurley in a very tight, low-cut shimmering dress, which looks as if it's covered with mother of pearl (great thought and money will have been expended on this). She's in the surreal topiary garden of a grand country house, surrounded by huge, silvery looking triangles of hedge. So far, so adequately art-directed. And - nice device, this - she's following a sort of string, a long moonbeam cobweb that trails round the hedges. The string leads to a garden statue, where Liz discovers Ms Lauder's gift. Thereafter a certain amount of acting is required: looking at the scent bottle with wonder and anticipation, slight slow smiling as she's suffused with inner peace - that kind of thing. But her heart isn't in it. Its a thin little smile and she doesn't look half as good as we know she can.

There follows an attack of quite determined klutziness. A voiceover that has to get it all in introduces "Estee Lauder Pleasures at House of Fraser". The screen is further burdened with that crass white curly script they use for down-market wedding ads. "Buy any Lauder item and receive a 31-piece make-up and accessories kit, available while stocks last". The camera then spends nearly as much time on a banal composition of lipsticks as on the original fantasy. It looks like a bad corner of the Army & Navy Stores, Portsmouth. In the corner of the screen, the inexpressibly foolish House of Fraser logo, a stag, does a little leap. And thus is Liz betrayed. The deal with the retailer has to be expressed at length onscreen. Having bought the New London Look, Lauder are scared of moving beyond their usual aesthetic. The potentially interesting ideas in the art direction aren't properly realised - and our girl looks miserable throughout.

! Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.