York on ads: No 16: L'Oreal conditioner

IF THERE was an internationally accepted industry award for Biggest Hair in a Television Commercial, L'Oreal's Elseve Care Mousse Conditioner would be odds-on favourite to win. Into an office - clearly supposed to be in Manhattan - walks this huge pink power-suited model (a bit Cindy Crawford, a bit RuPaul), swaying as she goes, and around her head is flapping this enormous thing. The thing is in fact a shoulder-length wavy tumble of hair of such width and volume that it puts anyone within three feet in danger of whiplash. This, one sees, is supposed to represent every woman's fantasy: to possess a massive pillow of silken hair with the bounce and the height that all the beauty houses promise in their TV commercials.

'Now, for fantastic looking hair,' says the voice- over. Both the model and the director work hard to really deliver on this strategy in the most literal way possible. Over-deliver, in fact, because one's first impression is that the whole thing is supposed to be some kind of joke. If it weren't for the model's unmistakable, Manhattan-style, Amazon perfection (seen, of course, in close-up) you'd think it was that French and Saunders being funny again. But the fact is that not a single whiff of British irony has been allowed to infect the pure air of this commercial. After all, the French cosmetic house L'Oreal is not known for its humour.

McCann Erickson made this commercial for L'Oreal International Command in Germany; it was then presumably OK'd in Paris and released to bear all before it in the colonies, a commando initiative from Beauty World.

Videotapes supplied by Tellex Commercials.

(Photograph omitted)