hard sell

Client: Golden Wonder

Agency: Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury

How do you advertise a product as bland and cheap as Pot Noodle? You make its blandness and cheapness a virtue. And you go to Wales.

"'Ow do. I'm Terry," says a nondescript Taff with a nondescript moustache on a grey plastic MFI sofa with a poster of a car stuck to the wall behind him (nice touch). But the final detail that makes the picture of working- class bachelor domesticity in the Valleys perfect is that he has a steaming Pot Noodle in his lap. "And this is my mate, John," he adds. John's thumb appears in front of the camera, complete with black nail. "'Ow do," says John.

"And this is how we used to spend our evenings together." Cue crazy shots of Terry and John larking about with Pot Noodle to the strains of salsa music. These shots consist mostly of John's very large stomach on the sofa wobbling while he laughs.

Back to Terry. "Until yesterday when we saw this." The camera shows a devastated John looking at a leaflet extolling pot noodle as a source of fibre and nutrition.

Terry is not pleased. "What are you saying, you makers of Pot Noodle. It's flinny food, like, like leaves!" he exclaims. "There's been an error," he says, adamantly. "It's too gorgeous."

This commercial is a masterpiece. It is also a classic example of a certain kind of youth ad that might be dubbed "Tango" - usually promoting some snack or fizzy drink that schoolkids invade corner shops for at lunch time - which relies for its appeal on being as unlike other advertising as possible and using a surreal humour that adults aren't supposed to get. Pot Noodle are food products attractive to children for being nothing to do with the sensible food that sensible Mum might buy.

When you want to con kids with advertising, you have to flatter them that they are more media literate than mum and dad, and that they can't be conned. So, like most of these Tango-type ads, Pot Noodle deconstructs the medium. But this ad goes further by suggesting it is deconstructing advertising itself by celebrating the ordinary people with silly accents who live in Wales.

I suspect we'll be seeing more of the Welsh Reeves and Mortimer.

MARK SIMPSON

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