York on ads / Added value with a familiar empty feeling: No 43: BA WORLD OFFERS

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The Independent Culture
WE KNOW good commercials should have the production values of major motion pictures (they cost more per second). But should they remind us of them without being obvious pastiche? Is that the trick behind some of the best work?

In the new BA World Offers commercial they've created an empty London - empty bed, empty house, empty fishtank, empty streets, empty Paddington, empty City, empty cafe, empty dealing room. It's a spectacular, expensive-looking, simple, memorable trick; and it seems very familiar. Does it come straight out of a film - a disaster movie? A monster movie? Something American mid-Seventies perhaps? School of

The Day the Earth Stood Still? I don't know - I'm not enough of a buff (a modest prize for the reader who identifies it). Maybe there's no direct antecedent, just an artful reading of the look, the feeling and the high-anxiety Radiophonic Workshop soundtrack of the genre.

Either way it's a very distinctive branded way to talk dirty about cut-price airfares without losing class or going soft-focus cliche like most of the holiday companies (the tour operators are currently quite undistinguishable with their warm tones, careful pacing, family fun and minor-league whimsy).

London's empty because everyone's gone on BA World Offers. BA's suburban commuter hero, yelling 'Where is everybody?' from the top of a City marble hall would wake the dead, and the hard sell to salsa that follows - Rio from pounds 299 return, LA from pounds 195 - marks a real sit-up-and-take-notice change of pace.

That filmic impression makes everything seem big - like all BA's advertising. In marketing-speak it adds value. Peter York

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