Peter York on ads: The Sun - A land of hope and fat blokes

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The Independent Culture
THE Daily Mirror used to say "Forward with the People" under its name. When Maxwell took over, this became "Forward with Britain". And now, the Sun's particular construction is "dedicated to the people of Britain". And it's a powerfully affecting tale of real people, in black-and-white.

On the evidence of this commercial, the Sun is dedicated to fat blokes, mostly middle-aged, some in overalls. The first of these fat blokes appears to be reading the Sun in a confined space with kitschy ornaments. Is he actually in the lavatory? Then two further chunky blokes have a laugh at the "Arise Sir Tinky Winky" headline, between them a Tupperware box. This headline arouses interest and male bonding in a variety of other situations, including one with a fat middle-aged bloke in an office, complete with framed cartoons and theatrical award statuettes.

The whole thing seems to derive from some kind of authentic Blokerama. Real people, gain sustenance from the Sun, from dawn to dusk, when it serves to line the dog-basket for two delightful terriers. It's a bit reminiscent of the current Heinz series, in which proletarian nuclear- family life is sustained on soup and lovely South African music.

Normally, red-top tabloid advertising promotes a feature ("steamiest sex guide ever"). But recently they've been getting a bit cleverer, with the Sun leading the way. The new trend is towards a mood, a brand personality, a fuzzy sort of reader-identification. "Britishness" is just one strand in all this - another is a generalised hostility to Europe.

What else could be on the mind of the world's most distinguished Australian- American?