Peter York on Ads: There's a definite touch of the Hemingways

NO 267: GUINNESS
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The Independent Culture
This is about as spectacular as an ad can get - and as mad. The new Guinness Surfer commercial is spectacular and mad in the way that Titanic was spectacular and mad, meaning that it hits at a level which proper people don't acknowledge. The unforgettable image is surf-riding white horses.

This technology - whatever it is - really does make real white horses look like sea-horses, wave incarnations, proper intense-dream-time creatures. They're riding the waves behind a gang of surfers who, it has to be said, look like Old Spice crossed with Calvin Klein. The background is monstrously intensified rhythm-box drumming. And there's every macho-mysto California via Hawaii surf poetry allusion you could shake a big stick at.

The voiceover is as annoying as they come; thus over the first shots - of a brooding hyper-tanned extra-chromosomed surfer's face - "He waits, that's what he does." Then, as the group of beach bums advance into the spume, "...tick follows tock, follows tick, follows tock."

And as the undeniably spectacular wall of water advances - they make it look a mile high - "Ahab says, `I don't care who you are, here's to your dreams'."

There's lots of manly laughter, lots of big pecs, and then, of course, a definite touch of the Hemingways. The old sailors returned to the bar. At the end, before the big Guinness glass shot, the lads collapse in a heap together on the beach, more Calvin than Calvin.

It's all part of the "Here's to waiting; good things come to those who wait" Guinness series that started with the OAP Mediterranean swimming champ commercial. But it seriously outranks the earlier treatment. No matter the logic of the waiting proposition, nor the absolute illogic - and probable downright offensiveness to thinking persons - of the Wagner- goes-Hemingway themes, the fact is that those Crazy Horses - starry-eyed, wet-maned, shot like battle horses in classical painting - will hit the I-for-Imagery spot in anyone with a pulse and half an eye.

Like Titanic, this ad will launch a million idiotic conversations about the morals, merits and methodology of special effects. And, like Titanic, it'll win prizes and deserve them.

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