York on ads / No 22: Cargo Club

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The Independent Culture
CARGO CLUB is trying very hard to become a cult for London shoppers. The TV campaign for this 'warehouse club' reminds me of nothing so much as those Czech cartoons that used to fill the gaps in programmes at arty cinemas in days gone by. Tiny, spikily drawn figures would scuttle across the screen accompanied by self-conscious, Goonish sound effects, and turn into, say, the outline of a famous painting. Then the art-aware audience would laugh to show it had understood the reference.

In the Cargo Club commercials, a variety of tiny consumer goods arrange themselves into bikes or cars - a bike has a CD as wheels, an iron as the seat and cucumber handlebars. 'Get down to Purley Way, Croydon, and join the club . . . for top brands at warehouse prices, members pay just pounds 25 a year.'

Warehouse clubs have been hugely successful in America, where discounters of all kinds have shown the only retail growth during the recession. But British retailers are both very efficient and everywhere, so the basic warehouse-club proposition still needs a lot more explanation and careful selling before an expedition to Croydon becomes imperative. Clever miniature designs won't be enough.