TELEVISION / York on ads: No 30: American Express

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The Independent Culture
ANITA RODDICK has views on many things, none of them less-than-global issues. In her new spot for American Express she expresses more politically correct sentiments in 30 seconds than anyone - mid-period Ken Livingstone, bongo period Vanessa Redgrave - ever has before.

'We have a covert understanding of women,' says Roddick of her organisation. What exactly is 'covert' about it, one wonders? Then she gets on to ethnic people, tribal folk, whose notion of beauty 'leaves me breathless'. 'Women my age are considered sexy,' she explains, because they're believed to bear wisdom. She spends six months a year travelling, living in these communities. While Roddick continues with this engaging stream of consciousness on womanism, the ethnic aesthetic, anti-ageism and living in the community, black-and-white film shows ethnic women doing ethnic-womanly things.

Then Anita slips in American Express, apparently quite seamlessly. 'There's a facility in American Express which makes me sleep just a bit better.' This is so profound as to be perfectly opaque. Is it reassuring when dealing with tribal herb traders? Is it nice to know that customers can pay for Banana Hair Putty with Amex . . . or what, exactly?

Amex have moved a long way from 'Membership has its privileges'. Now they're linking the whole business of getting and spending to civilisation and giving in to life, through very rich people who are on the side of the angels. It should make us feel much better about that bonus surf-and-turf blow-out at the Forte Grand.

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(Photograph omitted)