TELEVISION / York on ads: No 11: InterCity

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The Independent Culture
THE NEW InterCity commercial is just about the ultimate in advertising incest. In 40 seconds of its 'now you're motoring' pastiche of car advertising I saw the Peugeot field on fire, the Renault priest and the Vauxhall Corsa (a Naomi Campbell lookalike). And I'm sure there's more in there if I were more of an advertising train-spotter.

It's an expensive-looking rehash of the basic elements of the 'let the train take the strain' approach of at least a decade ago, but with high production values and Nineties jokes. On the train you get a '30-litre engine' and '200-yard legroom' - that kind of thing.

It integrates the references nicely into a sort of overall running joke about the oh-so-French Renault Clio 'Papa' campaign, with a neat pay-off line: as the 'daughter' meets Papa off the train, she sees him sweep past with an older woman. 'I thought you said you weren't married,' she blurts.

But should InterCity be abandoning its distinctive, award-winning, cosy-comforts campaign in favour of an elaborate homage to internal combustion?

The problem with most spoofing is that, although it gets you watching, it often leaves you confused about brand authorship - meaning that the new advertiser's budget ends up selling the original advertiser's product. But you could argue that this case is different. It takes a plague on all their houses approach to the pretensions of car advertising, and there's no doubt about the identity of the spoofer. You can confuse one car with another, but there's no mistaking a train. It could give InterCity's old claim a new lease of life.

Videotapes supplied by Tellex Commercials.

(Photograph omitted)