Television ads number 257: club 18-30: What makes a Greek lad go bad?

Peter York on ads number 257: club 18-30
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What warning signs should teachers watch for in a ten year old boy? In a ten-year-old Greek boy? A new commercial proposes a checklist. First, diving into a swimming pool fully clothed. second, challenging other children to milk-drinking races. Third, displaying a facility for vernacular English.

The danger is that lads like this could descend into the twilight world of Loaded, Maxim, FHM and ... going down to clubs. Do I have to spell it out ... Club 18-30. Its new commercial is a very up-scale, subtle, narrative, high-production-values sort of thing - God knows why - designed to show the appalling influence the Brit' Lad culture can have on decent Aegean bourgeois folk.

It's parents' evening in a nice school in the Greek equivalent of Guildford- on-Sea. An attractive but stressed-out looking young mother - and they've cast the Greek looks exactly right with huge eyes, very dark hair and very pale skin - is talking about her 10 year old to his teacher, a cheerful blobby Spyros with a tweed jacket and a huge dark moustache. It's very well done; in the location - the cool marbly school - the casting; the underplayed acting.

"Frankly, your son puzzles us," says Spyros, looking distinctly unfazed. And he tells her about the diving and the challenging to her increasing, though mute alarm. And he goes on to say that, incredibly, "he's a genius at English". Apparently the boy says things that even the teachers don't know. This leads to a rehearsal of football crowd English, (his rendering of "oy oy saveloy" in a Greek accent is delicious and has real cult potential.)

Then we learn the shocking truth. In the final scene he is at home with this mother and we see their secret shame. She can't keep him from the sitting-room window; and outside there's that infernal roar, that babble, those awful words. It's like Damien - Omen II when the chanting starts. And of course he's in a yellow and black football strip and they're overlooking that cultural Chernobyl, a Club 18-30 site.

Why exactly the company is saying these amusing, self-critical things to its target market of all people eludes me - maybe it's getting its retaliation in first. But OY OY is great and it'll play well in Primrose Hill.