Fat Finns in bras, just for the bad taste of it
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The Independent Culture
Are fat Finns funny? This central question defines the difference between two approaches to advertising. For one kind of advertiser they're very funny indeed, for another they represent an obvious risk - non-PC, diplomatic upsets in Scandinavia, etc, etc. The latter kind of advertiser looks for something very global, high-concept and inclusive; he wants to teach the world to sing. The former kind of advertiser is called Virgin.

Virgin Cola has no problem with the Finnish question; they take the Fast Show view of things - "Boutros Boutros Ghali!" Virgin Cola's new commercials are packed full of funny foreigners (meanwhile Coca-Cola has a new approach that seems to feature a lot of tasteful World Weaves, a mass of ethnic- looking textile patterns).

The fat Finns - risk one - are apparently naked, big blokes who look like Hale and Pace in blonde wigs and silly Scandy moustaches, running around in a snow-bound conifer-rich landscape. And of course they run to a smoking sauna hut, where they beat each others' pendulous pectorals with leafy birch branches in a desultory way.

Meanwhile - Tony Ferrino, Eurovision! - there's an excitable voiceover in Finnish urging the viewers on to God knows what. The Fat Finns drink Virgin Cola slowly and then stoke up the steam by pouring it on the coals, creating a huge head of white smoke which sends them blinking out into the snow. Risk two: they've grown great plastic breasts in huge bikini tops. Shades of Kenny Everett or Vic and Bob and their bra-wearing blokes. That's what Virgin Cola does for you. You can just imagine how this kind of product- benefit might score in American-style pre-testing research conducted in, say, Minnesota.

It'll never get past the risk analysis. Far better to go for a fail- safe, Youthquake approach like Pepsi Blue ...