Staying traditional in the teeth of fashion : YORK ON ADS

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FALSE teeth are back. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s advertising for denture (the nice marketing word) cleansers and fixatives was a screen staple. In ads for Steradent and Sterafix, Poligrip and Dentu-Creme, people with the popular prosthesis lea rned how tiny bubbles left their appliances really fresh, or demonstrated their new-found ability to crunch apples or whistle cheerfully without precipitate plummeting.

Animations and curious-looking glass and plaster models of teeth were used to demonstrate the product benefits. The ad-vertising, like so much "personal products" marketing, was wholly formulaic, and the different brands quite undistinguishable.

In the 1980s the category spend faded. Now, however, they're back. Steradent and Poligrip and Sea-bond are all fighting for market share among the edentulous.

And they seem to have taken their old ads out of the freezer. Nothing has happened to the approach in the past 15 years. Humour, high design, music and celebrity endorsement have passed the category by. Dentu-Creme, a toothpaste for false teeth, asks questions of pleasant, middle-aged suburbanites. What would it take to get you to change from soaking your dentures to brushing? "If it got them really clean", says a dog-walking woman; "if they were really fresh", says a station-sergeant type pruning in hi s garden. Then we're on to the product demonstration, with a row of white crenellations being cleaned with a giant brush (the convention clearly is that you never show a real denture). Then it's back to product satisfaction, with radiant acrylic smilesa ll round. No hint of irony, of sub-text - let alone spoof. Who's standing up for traditional values in a changing world? Why, personal products, of course.

Video supplied by Tellex Monitors.