The morning after two nights before

No 154: DUREX
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The Independent Culture
There used to be an awful, fourth-form-bike-shed kind of routine - the kind people don't do any more - which went roughly: "smile if you had sex last night". This sent pimply boys and plain girls into absolute consternation. Should they look stern or pretend to be suppressing huge smiles?

The man in the Durex ad has no such concerns. He smiles beatifically, radiantly, throughout. He does nothing else. In fact the first impression from the nutty-looking smiler is that the ad is to do with dental hygiene.

The milieu is very Shallow Grave, very cool middle-class flat-sharer territory. To be absolutely frank, very Islington. And what you can see of the decoration employs fashionable motifs and colours - a chequerboard kitchen floor, lime-and-orange kitchen cupboards. And the music is tremendously smart, a pastiche of glam, late-Sixties easy-listening.

They're at the breakfast table, the smiler and his two edgy flatmates, a younger Colin Firth type and a woman you'd cast as an Oxbridge recruit to a good London barristers' chambers. There's an eternity of sideways looks, toast-scraping and nail-filing during which the viewer tries to work out a) the precise interpersonal dynamics and b) what the ad is for.

When Miss Legal Yuppie breaks the emery-board the music stops and we get message delivery. A confusing variety of devices appear on the screen. The Durex logo, set against black, an e-mail address - an absolute requirement of this kind of advertising now - and the word "Hatu". Hatu must be fashioned on the pleasure principle, for then it says "the feeling may last over 48 hours".

The pleasure man continues to glow idiotically in the light. His flat- mates continue to glower in the shadows. Condoms have been advertised with a number of benefits recent- ly, but never quite from the pure- pleasure-of-the-now-people/rhino-horn angle. But it behoves the producers to remember what happened to the Shallow Grave group.