Peter York on ads: No 174: GQ Active - Hope you don't die before you get bored

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The Independent Culture
Slicing sounds; an ominous crunch; the splat of inert flesh against stainless steel. Here is the first TV commercial (I think) to exploit the UK's favourite fast-growing themed leisure experience; first row front at the pathology lab. It's for GQ Active, a spin-off from GQ, the magazine for the literate natty dresser.

We see a variety of body parts in angled close-up: a fat hairy tummy; feet in a steel basin; an ear; a finger; something unthinkable wrapped in bloodied gauze. We also see some more active body parts: exploring hands in rubber gloves; a woman's hair around an ear; some movement under a surgical gown. A lady pathologist at work with the tools of her trade. There's butcher's-shop ultra-violet, a huge monkey wrench, and some X- ray pics (the director has clearly seen Repulsion).

And, as we've come to expect, the forensic femme starts dictating her conclusions - "White, male, knee- joint rusted out" - and so forth. And then she advances to camera, to reveal a cross between Amanda Redman and Helen Mirren, and tells us, "he could've eaten a bit less, drunk a bit less - but you could say he died of boredom."

This cues what can only be described as a Pepsi Max montage of completely frantic and mindless activities in the American mode - sliding and gliding, snowy somersaults, bikes over cliffs, the furthermost limits of experience the sports-leisure industry can invent. The best a man can get, Bionic- wise.

The message is both pack a lot in before you croak it (a theme Virgin Air is already exploiting) and also, crucially - since the men's-health magazine generic originated in America - if you take the right measures, death is optional. You imagine there'll be a piece on self-examination for arterial clog using your home PC - that kind of thing. I don't expect there'll be a lot of overlap with the Spectator readership.