Peter York On Ads: No 286: Robbie's Testicles

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
What is an opinion leader? In the classic marketing definition it's someone whose authority derives from experience, from numbers (dog breeders knowing about Chum, for instance). It's reasonable to suppose that Robbie Williams' balls have been around a bit, so who better than he to talk soft-issues - such as testicular cancer?

But to persuade men to lie around and examine themselves in the classic "our-lives-our-bodies-our-selves" manner and act like sensible women, we need first to establish that everyone concerned in the audience, and the cameraman, and just about everyone, is in no part remotely soppy. Or it could be embarrassing.

You establish this with breasts. Large numbers of young bikini-ed breasts seen by an apparently ravenous, roving camera eye on a bright, sandy beach. This public interest commercial is free to focus more tightly than might a bra-maker. So the shoots are from a variety of angles - standing up and lying down and in jiggly motion, syncopated to the voom, voom, of a jet-ski out there in the water. Sun, sand and sex.

The conceit is that the cameraman is supposed to be following that keen little skier, but he just cannot keep his eye on the job.

At the end of the breast sequence a truly giant naked pair, insanely perky with huge nipples, fills the screen. Robbie Williams is wearing them over his hairy chest, though he's also got on a polite pair of trunks. We're going from lad's-eye view to arch lad of the past two years, and it's a clever transition.

Williams' credentials are immaculate; he's had fun, been around, scored with Everylads' fantasy girls from the top 10 of the boys' mags. He's sharp and he's northern. If anyone can persuade young men to lie around like reflective odalisques giving their sacs a thoughtful once-over, it's him. So the message is, if you guys paid more attention to these - a well-executed ball-grabbing here - instead of this - the monstrous prosthesis - then fewer of us would be dying of testicular cancer. So, go and check them out. The last is delivered with that kind of cheeky het's camp that hugely confident people like Williams do so well.

This is low-budget public education advertising that looks the business; nicely shot with a big star. The point is, it's a brilliant focus for wider publicity - it's generating many more hours of airtime and column inches than the modest outlay suggested. And then there are the facts, the guidance, the reassurance. Behind the Load- ed style it's all thought through. Let's hope it wins an effectiveness award.

Comments