Television: Peter York On Ads No 288: Blackthorn Cider

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The Independent Culture
Cider really is the pits. The commercials of course, not the drink, I can't remember what it tastes like. But the commercials, historically designed to give the biggest grown-up balls possible to a drink associated with sub-teen trialists, have been famously idiotic and deeply Kerrang. The snake in the desert. All those arrows. (Though I have to say the Johnny Vaughan "I've just been to the lavatory" for Strongbow was rather good.)

The latest Blackthorn commercial is in the great tradition, but they've worked frantically to reflect Where Lads are Now. The answer, blow me down, is a little bit Lock, Stock, a little bit Reservoir Dogs (only a very little bit) and a little bit Friday night comedy zone.

The late-Nineties teenager is comfortable with the surreal, says the creative brief; he can deal with odd juxtapositions of celebrities, he can manage a bit of camp from an approved source like Julian Clary. Cider's got to be a modern inclusive drink with a bit of attitude and a touch of self-parody.

So, a council tower block. Zoom in and it's Sixties Brutalism with lots of stressed Horizontals. (Stressed Horizontals are easy shorthand for practically anything late 1990s). There's a man with binoculars and some actors chosen to look suitably Lock, Stock - meaning, as ever, deeply manly, profoundly tough and utterly cool for 15-year-olds.

But where to go?

"The T-bar on a Friday night in the height of summer?" asks one. (The T-bar's actually a new-style tea shop in Baker Street, but let it pass; they mean the K-bar and it's obviously Mission Impossible).

Out they troop - and that's the Reservoir Dogs bit - and on the way these bold fellows, utterly in touch with their modern surreal juxtaposed feelings, put on their masks. Not the traditional crim's stocking mask, not the Balaclava, but pics on sticks, black-and-white photographs of ingeniously cast celebrities, mounted on sticks, Perrier comedy style.

The natural bedfellows are Harry Hill, Vinnie Jones, Julian Clary and Chris Eubank. And so they blag their way into this stratospherically Now club. Lots of fun with Eubank's light lispy voice - "enter your establishment and partake of some beverages" - lots of fun with Clary's light campy one. People stare, bulbs flash (the Bar looks like the same set as last month's Mind Cooler spectacular).

It's the kind of place where they set up the Blackthorns. Top Form says the screen. The masks and the Eubank stuff may save it, but I suspect that if you're 15 you might still prefer to go once more round the block with Denise van Outen. But what do I know?