BT gets thumbs-down in the gladiatorial arena

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The Independent Online

It's huge – this arena. I mean seriously James Bond sound-stage huge. In fact it's rather like the Powell & Pressburger staircase-from-heaven illusion they created for A Matter of Life & Death worked for 2001 with Gladiator technology. Gladiator technology – that's the thing with advertising folk: they see something in a film, particularly SFX, and they want to do it too. Sometimes, it has to be said, irrespective of the matter in hand.

Anyway, remember how brilliantly they re-created the Colosseum in Gladiator, populating it with thousands of digitised pixilated extras cloned from a mere 50 or so? Size matters in the sense of spectaculars catching attention, but it quickly wears out because we've seen so many now. And you still need to fill your big window with a genuinely compelling thought, a novel attitude ... something.

The giant arena is BT's and the centre stage of this shallow Greek bowl looks an acre wide. On it there's a winsome girl of seven-ish asking what that little bit between nose and lips is called. "It's your filtrum," says a white-coated young Chinese scientist-type, in immaculate RP. He's sitting in a bank of white-coated scientist-types. Then there's a young mum on stage saying she loves her state but do any other mums sometimes feel a bit ... overwhelmed. A bay of young mums, appropriately mixed for race and looks, rushes the stage. There's a girl who wants to date, an old Trinidadian who wants to meet people from St Margaret's, Tobago, class of '52, and more. It goes on for ages.

You get the picture: they're making connections. And as that lovely old News of the World ad had it, "all human life is there" – ie, a parade of clichéd types. I'm completely snow-blind from a storm of telco and IT spectacular commercials that have about three ideas between them. (The third is that all-the-peoples-of-the-world/soft-side-of-globalism number.) Now, to be fair, this is well produced in the British way, so it's nowhere near as bad as those US global corporate campaigns, but it's just as windy in its theme.

And should BT be doing big now? Given what's happened recently, and everyone knows as BT's failures are on the news pages, shouldn't it be doing humble?

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