TAKING THE EURO-YOUTH FOR A RIDE

PETER YORK ON ADS NO 70: YOUNG C&A

THE giant Dutch multi-national clothing retailer C&A is famous for many things - modestly priced garments, the epic Man at C&A promotion, its intense commercial secrecy - but not for leading-edge fashion or arty- farty marketing communications.

The new C&A Young Collection ad on MTV takes the company into the world of the art-fashion ad, however. This is a breed directed by men who appear to have started life as fashion photographers on youth magazines in the 1970s, when mini-narratives set in exotic places were all the go. As they progress into ads they take that combination of high concept, slight content and chic, fashion-editorish ethnic images with them.

The story here concerns a runaway steam train careering through what looks like China, with a most picturesque raggle-taggle crew and passengers - all multi-ethnic models wearing multi-ethnic, multi-layered clothes of the kind not usually made of 100 per cent polyester. All sorts of lovely art-directed things happen along the way. Chinese girls of the new-model kind pose, looking significant. The train steams across great deserts in silhouette with its happy band of international youth on top, breaks through a bricked-up tunnel - the key metaphor here- and then races on to a huge bridge against a lovely red sky. More woolly hats and layers appear at each crucial point.

I think it's all about opening up China as a safe land for Edina and Patsy. It looks rather old-fashioned and heavy-handed to me - and almost certainly wrong for the UK. But MTV is primarily targeted at Euro-youth, which is rather more susceptible to this sort of latter-day idealistic backpacker theme - look at the way Dutch and German middle-class teenage tourists dress. They're not like us, you know. Peter York

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