PETER YORK ON ADS No 291: GAP

The Benetton equation - "shocking" ads, boring product - holds good with Gap, too. Only the Gap commercials are smart and charming rather than shocking, and all the more insidious for that. The recent Gap series, the dancing ones - Sixties go-go etc - and the singing ones, are all really good in their bland way. They recycle other people's ideas, aesthetics and music in good-taste, high-production-value, high-concept ways. And in very much a photographer's studio; white-out, tasteful settings, with no problematic class or tribal-specific detailing. It's all done with a strong stylist's editorial eye (rather as Ralph Lauren gained hugely from Ann Boyd's taste).

The latest is just too winsome for words, and absolutely right on the money for efficient necrophilia. We're all feeling nice about Donovan now; there are even those who'll make a case for him against Bob Dylan - engaging, much less pretentious, nice tunes. He's the Austin Powers/Ready Steady Go/ clean-pop, mid-late Sixties hippie, not the full horror of free-festival pee-in-the-trench polytechnic circa 1971.

He's an easy-listening classic, just like Dean Martin, so the Gap Ensemble chorus - this decade's version of Coca-Cola's "I want to teach the world to sing" - do "Mellow Yellow". And they do it in cords, because that's the classic can't-go-wrong, easy-wearing look this particular treatment is selling.

"I'm just mad about Saffron," sings a pleasant-looking, brown-haired boy (cord jacket with pockets jeans-style in washed-out buff). He's sitting on the lowest rung of a low-rise tier of white blocks. The camera moves on to a pretty, American washed-out blonde, with a grey top and beige cords. "Saffron's mad about me." Then it's on to a fit, black girl with a good figure and Heather Small high hair (dark brown cords, another grey top). "I'm just mad about Saffron." "And she's just mad about me," sings a big Pete Sampras-type with a grey crew-neck sweater and grey-green cords. (Singing models? Are they dubbed?)

Around them is the chorus - universally pleasant-looking young people, black and white, in tasteful neutrals. At the end, there's that nice label - white-out of a blue rectangle - and a fascinating message: "Everybody in cords."

Everybody in cords! The real Donovan end-of-the-pier party look would have been mixed psycho-colour primaries, from Grannie Takes a Trip in the Kings Road.

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