PETER YORK ON ADS: No 213: THE EUROPEAN: No business like Euro- business

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The Independent Culture
IN 1996, while researching a series on "the Eighties" for the BBC, I became obsessed with the new City of London skyline and its extraordinary combination of symbolism, beauty and vulgarity. We found some marvellous footage shot for an earlier documentary which dwelt lovingly on all that glass, marble and granite, setting it against ravishing sunsets with a golden filter until the whole thing became quite abstract. We used a lot of it.

The relaunch advertising for the European has something of the same feeling. It too is all about caressing camerawork panning over massive modern commercial buildings. Round and round the camera goes, angled ever more skyward.

Fade to grey, fade to white; onwards and upwards is the message. It's all about the differential Eurocentricity of business publications. "Some," says a stern voice-over, "devote less than 10 per cent to Europe." So which one do you read? "It all depends on how far you want to go; only one gives Europe 100 per cent." The European, in other words, is being relaunched by Andrew Neil as a European biz sheet, to slug it out with the FT, Economist, Business Week, and the other international business heavies.

"Now we're talking business," is the sign-off line. There is, however, something spooky about the whole thing that seems a little at odds with its practical work message.

The more I look at it, the more I think this isn't just an elegant collage of Munich and La Defense footage. It could be computer-generated - in other words, a very posh sort of screen-saver.