When currency means anything but current

ADS No 193: THE ROYAL MINT

On 20 November Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip celebrate their Golden Wedding anniversary. In the light of recent events, what feelings does that news stir in you? The Royal Mint's Golden Wedding anniversary pounds 5 coin commercial is very much in the tradition of royal merchandising pre-Diana - ie it celebrates the stars in their courses, the predictability of all things royal and the protocol of commemoration.

The ad is designed for what sociologists describe as deferential types. There's no drama, personality or spontaneous emotion in royal collectibles. These shiny little coins sum up the world of the women's weeklies of the Fifties, and the kind of imperative that one Sixties wag described as "knit your own Royal Family".

The style of the ad is trad-to-the-max: a Union Jack overlaid with kitschy white writing, trumpety regal music and a sonorous voiceover after Dimbleby (Richard, not Jonathan). It's all deeply condescending. Everything's explained slowly-and-clearly, in Dimbleby vocab: "to honour this very special occasion" we have "this historic coin" which "is official legal tender".

Demand, they remind us, "is expected to be high". So form an orderly queue and proceed in a sober fashion - new customers only, one per household. A shiny coin - on one side an elderly couple in profile, on the other a couple of heraldic shields - spins on its axis against a bright royal- blue background, reflecting light as it goes, with sparkling effects from its milled borders.

I'm convinced that it's virtual, a computer effect. I'm also reminded of a variety of Brit-kitsch filmic effects, but particularly of the old Anglia TV ident. That model of a mounted knight in armour, waving his sword and looking about three inches tall, was always good for a laugh.

Will demand be high? Is this really the thing to give the thousands who waited outside St James's Palace? It'll be very interesting to know.

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