Purple - every (inner) child's favourite colour

PETER YORK ON ADS; No 188: VIMTO
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The Independent Culture
Time was no middle-class kitchen was complete without pictures of matchstick men drawn by the owners' little darlings. It showed the parents were in touch with their own inner child - with good things like spontaneity, imagination and fun.

The same kind of matchstick men feature in the market-research technique called projections. This asks people - children or adults - to attribute thoughts and actions to matchstick folk drawn with convenient speech bubbles just waiting to be filled with very deep thoughts.

The faux-naif Vimto commercials, drawn as children's drawings, have this quality too, and like real children's drawings they concentrate on the eternal verities, namely farts, trouser bulges and dangly bits.

They also feature poetry, the work of Purple Ronnie, the people's poet who, to judge from the voiceover, has a sensibility somewhere between Martin Clunes in Men Behaving Badly and Adrian Edmonson in almost anything, and he looks something between a kiddie doodle and Smiley on the old rave badge.

A typical Purple Ronnie goes:

"When I go out clubbing, everyone just stares/

`cos I buy a can of Vimto and stuff it down my flares."

It's very childish, very rude, but quite sophisticated and knowing, with strong hints at club culture.

But what exactly is Vimto and who is the commercial designed for?

Little time is spent on the first question, considering Vimto's not exactly a universally known beverage. It's purple, almost certainly fizzy and probably blackcurrant. But image, so marketing strategists in the sector believe, is everything, so long as the product isn't actively undrinkable.

As for the market, is it eight-, fourteen- or thirtysomething? Probably not 16-year-olds - they're terribly self-conscious about any association with children. The central mechanism seems to be about playing back to children their own research fantasies.

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