Peter York on Ads: No 24 Cellnet: These slackers are completely phoney

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The Independent Culture
Modern dilemmas, contemporary conundra, don't you just love 'em? Cellnet puts them centre stage in its new campaign aimed at the younger, less established type of person (The reality of mobile telephony, meanwhile, is a target market of 10-year old joy-riding arsonists).

The younger type of person described here is a kind of early- Nineties slacker with an anaesthetised, less-than-zero sort of life, but a basic knowledge of computer screens and their nursery-school icons.

So insistent, rhythm-box music backs a voice-over which sounds like the speaker could hardly get out of bed and down to Dean Street for the recording. "Get a bill, don't get a bill," he proposes. "Sign a contract, don't sign a contract." The icons appear in a cute way - handcuffs, glass of beer, mobile telephone, etc - while he rattles off this litany of affectless indecision.

It's meant to be choice, of course, but in this less-than-zero world, it sounds like no big thing.

It is a big thing, of course, a new way of budgeting for calls, making them part of the immediate world of fag packets and phone cards rather than the responsibility sphere of accounts and line rental. "It's your call" is the neat slogan, which sounds a little bit street, a little bit tough and privatised, and quite now enough to hit the Egg and B2 buttons.

The other commercials are just vignettes illustrating the mild pickles such people get themselves into. They're very like the don't-you-just- hate-it-when routines you get on the nursery slopes of the modern comedy circuit. Thus, two girls of a Denise Van Outen cast ogling the same men in a coffee shop. One has cappuccino froth on her nose. The other has to decide whether to say anything - be mean, don't be mean goes the on- screen line. On goes the synthetic drumbeat.

A waking man - Martin Clunes's much younger brother - looks at the happy sleeping girl beside him - Bunk off, don't bunk off is the Loaded question. Then there's a silly treatment, involving a spilt drink on a dark carpet (clean it up, don't clean it up). Best not to dwell on it.

It adds up to something directional, though. Even Strongbow - remember all those bristling, quivering arrows, all that heavy rock - is running a "loafing" campaign now. Younger- orientated TV advertising has hit Seattle, 1991 with a bang.