STAYING IN / York on ads: No 5: Panasonic

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The Independent Culture
THE Panasonic grannies, the Third Age supermodels launched in June to sell the convenience of the Panasonic VHS Camcorder, have got a leading edge. The younger one is heavily made up to look a bit like Molly Parkin, the older one - 'Auntie's terribly modern' - wears a jazzed-up Victorian undertaker's outfit with top hat. They're very chic in their post-Mondrian set (art director Dave Horry). This time they're selling a substantive innovation in picture quality, the self-adjusting digital picture with the super-flat screen (or in Japanese gaoo, which translates as 'King of Pictures').

They've avoided Amstrad-like dumb exposition and led on style and association (agency McCann- Erickson, copywriter Jeremy Clark). However, the ladies demonstrate product features rather forcibly.

In June the original commercials provoked a lot of press comment about Third Agers taking over (or for the PC, exploiting the most vulnerable members of our society). But there are old folk and old folk and this mature presenter, Anthea Holloway, is classy and stylish and radiates sublime Barbara Woodhouse-like confidence. And that's the point for Panasonic, whose strategy is to develop a 'brand personality' which will separate it from the broad mass of brown-goods brands.

The ad suggests a world of Rip van With-it, the world inhabited by Molly and Melly and other tireless Colony Room reprobates. It adds a recognisable edge. I'm surprised no one's exploited them before. But I'd love to know what the Japanese client makes of it.

(Photograph omitted)