PETER YORK ON ADS: No 218: PIZZA HUT: Ruud and cheeky does it

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The Independent Culture
ANYONE WHO had a heart - and advertising creatives are all heart - also had a soft spot for that Jamaican-via-Harlesden "rude boy" music of the late 1960s. It was a key element in Two-Tone, a kind of race memory. It's only natural that someone was longing for a pretext to use it in a commercial. A swift response to Ruud Gullitt's sacking from Chelsea gave the Pizza Hut people their excuse. Ruud = Rude, meaning Rudee, and don't those lovely old words fit just perfectly: "Stop your messing around,/ Better think of your future/ ... Time you straightened right out/ With problem in town/ ... A message to you Rudee ..."

This is sung over a kind of cv/audition by Gullitt, a play-within-a- play in which he rehearses his own commercial - a modern clapperboard with LCD appears several times - and eats several slices of pizza. Subtitles describe his career: played for Holland 65 times; June 1995, signed to Chelsea, and so forth. It all seems a bit sad and Gullitt seems rather diminished, doing the walk-in several times and looking disoriented. It's meant to be self-mockery and grace under pressure, but you wonder who's whoming who.

"A great all-rounder ... with acting experience," continue the subtitles. "Good luck Ruud."

The Pizza Hut series has so far been very competent, but formulaic. Sportsfolk - Damon Hill and Murray Walker, for instance - do scripted set-pieces derived from their callings into Pizza Huts, josh each other, and eat pizza. There are pack shots, and product qualities are clearly extolled. I imagine they do something similar with local sports celebrities in most markets across the world.

But the Gullitt commercial raises the game considerably. It's a creditably quick response to the headlines, cleverer and more free-form than others in the series - and the music is better. A format originally intended for the lager-lads market takes on the subject of hybris, and the tragedy of asking for pounds 2m when you could've scraped by on pounds 1.5m.

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