PETER YORK ON ADS No 299: MAXWELL HOUSE
The writers of the new Maxwell House commercial obviously think so too. The formerly well-known instant coffee-style beverage (it hasn't had much advertising support recently) is relaunched with a spoof of one of those late-night post-Dynasty dubbed or subbed Globo soaps. It's not even that good - half high Eighties, half spaghetti western, with "Bollywood" overtones - but I'm on the floor the moment the gravy-dark Spanish voice- over gets going.
It opens with "Maxwell House" filling the screen diagonally like a Forties drama movie. Big garden, picket fence and crimson flowers - they've turned the colour up full volume. "Maswell Howse" says Senor Grande Cojones. "Episode 747 - Oh Brother!" say the subtitles. A joke Zorro figure - big black hat and dark glasses - is outlined in the front door saying something Scorchio-ish very aggressively.
Cut to a woman like you don't get them now. She's the South American Way - big black hair, jewellery, cleavage - absolutely not the aspirational girlie you get in Gold Blend commercials. And the hall of her lovely Spanish Country top-of-the-range Wilmslow-of-Rio-style home absolutely isn't Elle Deco either.
Her husband - white jacket, stubble - growls in Spanish as Black Hat walks through the heavily-coffered front door: "You're not welcome in my house"; then, deliciously, you see his white trousers are tucked into short black boots. So are his visitor's black trousers; those dumb bootees. They're twins, doing a face-on confrontation. The wife reappears with a tray of coffee - the luridly blue Maxwell House jar and two matching mugs, one with "Julio El Boss" on it. "Es Maswell Howse?" asks Brother Black.
Mugs are drained, then ceremoniously smashed. They embrace - "I love you" say the subtitles. Exit arms around each other.
Lovely long shot of the hall - machine-gilt chairs and mirrors, giant china jars flanking the door. The Lot. More Bisto Spanish: "Maxwell House gets it sorted".
While Nescafe and Gold Blend go for authenticity and provenance, Maxwell House has positioned itself permissively as fake and fun. The mug with "Julio El Boss" is heartland Clinton Cards' repertoire, and "getting it sorted" is EastEnders; they're a Spanish Grant and Phil; wouldn't touch that cafetiere rubbish if you paid them. It's all a hundred years away from Starbucks world.
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