PETER YORK ON ADS No 112: ROVER 200

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The Independent Culture
DID you know that Sting sang a song called "An Englishman in New York"? I didn't, but then I'm not a close follower of his oeuvre. Anyway, it's the central theme of the new Rover 200 commercial, which cleverly extends the British Pride theme of an earlier series (remember "Britische Architekt" as two Krauts drive past Sir James Stirling's Stuttgart Staatsgalerie?) to the USA.

Our boy - who looks like a latter-day Nigel Patrick or a younger Christopher Cazenove - chooses the FT rather than the Wall Street Journal from the rack, and Sting starts singing about being a legal alien.

Meanwhile, Nigel/Christopher takes delivery of his Rover 200 from a big car-park lift, and drives his burnished, metallic-blue little car through the usual New York parade. We see the involuntary windscreen wash; the street argument; the Rollerbladers, but all presented positively, as Amusing Local Colour rather than Urban Breakdown. Escape from New York is not on our man's mind.

Rather he is set on making an entry into a smart SoHo loft building, car and all, via the goods lift. And so into the Eighties-revival central conceit of the ad: Nigel/Christopher drives his jaunty little Rover 200 right into an impossibly long loft drawing-room - the kind with huge arched windows, columns and a black grand piano at the end. And of course there's a pretty, dark-haired New York girl, his own Andie MacDowell, who gives him his tea and chocolate biscuits through the window and joins him in the car.

Throughout the Seventies and after, Brits lost faith in the national manufactured product; linking it to British stylistic triumphs abroad has been a clear strategy for the last British volume-car maker, and they've done it attractively here, with an unashamed pleasure in those Sloane and Yuppie styles. (They couldn't be played straight in a UK setting now; it'd have to be spoofed.)

Odd then to reflect on BMW's ownership of Rover.

! Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.

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