Peter York On Ads: No 219: Virgin Atlantic: He's just poetry in promotion
He certainly looks the part of the pop/poet crossover, as surely as Scaffold did in the 1960s and John Cooper Clarke did in the 1970s: long hair, long face and body, aristo-London, 1968-revival, velvet clothes.
And his concerns, judged on this tasting, are very metropolitan and media- ish. The ad is selling the cool entertainment package in Virgin Atlantic's economy class - as distinct from the limos-and-legroom concept in Upper Class pitched by grown-ups like Helen Mirren and Terence Stamp. So Lachlanisms like "Personal audio-visual sensation, plug yourself in to the pleasure machine," seem pretty good ways to dignify a screen in the back of the seat ahead. "Position yourself on the sensory surfboard, then wait for the wave of the digital daydream ... multi-digi-psycho-senso-maxo-pleasuronomy," he says (which, handily enough, rhymes with "Virgin economy").
It isn't exactly "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", but then nor was Clarke's "Ten Years in an Open-Necked Shirt". And it has to be said that Murray Lachlan Young appears to be telegenic, right for the product and for the marketplace. There is always a place for a useful poet, modishly dressed, who can run up something current to order and act it to camera.
The commercial looks very nice: particularly its opening frames, in which we take off at night along the guiding lights of an airport runway with furious jet noise to end on a mauve, velvet-covered Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair with Master Young in it. After this, appropriately enough, it's an MTV-like collage of movie clips, interspersed with Young in surreal settings - Eastern babes in go-go-dancing cages, flaming guitars, computer games - that kind of thing.
But to return to the central issue: should this sort of poetry be allowed, let alone rewarded? Obviously this is a question which Chris Smith, the Broadcasting Standards Council, Demos, Helena Kennedy, Lord Puttnam and the Creative Industries Task Force could usefully spend a couple of months considering.
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