Peter York on Ads No 273: Canderel: They rob the Fifties in such sweet style

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The Independent Culture
Advertisers have robbed the Fifties blind. The low Fifties, that is: primeval youth culture; the golden years of rock and roll; every kind of kitsch Americana and every kind of old newsreel from Mr Cholmondley- Warner's cod Public Education films to Deep South front porch life. But they haven't, until now, really tapped the Golden Age High Fifties, the world of American photographers and movie-makers who took the best of everything for their settings in the search for elegance. I'm thinking Richard Avedon, Suzi Parker, Babe Paley, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. And I'm thinking about the advertising that evoked that world for American glossy magazines. Those models, impossibly tall, hatted, gloved and pearled who presented new miracle fibres from Du Pont and new appliances from Westinghouse by twisting themselves into weird attenuated positions, one leg behind the other, one long-gloved arm outstretched in amazement like very posh magicians' assistants.

But the Canderel commercial has that world to a T. It is composed as a long strip - as if you had several glossy double-page spreads mounted and filmed by a rostrum camera. It's wonderfully mannered - God knows how they got 1990s models to adopt those poses; it must have been as hard as getting modern actresses to talk like Celia Johnson - with all the High Fifties types brilliantly caught: the women about town, the Summer Place beach hunk, the Ivy League executive, the faintly Greenwich Village young turtle-necker. Elegant, classy, good-looking people who take care of themselves - high maintenance people, proud to be sprinkling this high science marvel on to fruit salads or dropping the tablets into proper New York coffee.

The detailing's very good: the typefaces, background colour, the simple Fifties exhortations ("you'll enjoy") are perfectly in period.

And, of course, like a lot of other High Fifties stuff, it looks very now. This entertaining value-adding pastiche was actually made by an English creative in Camden Town, ie, by someone born in the Seventies. Now what does that tell us?