Lost: one dog and a sense of direction

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The Independent Online

Now, this is a low blow altogether. Here are some sacred topics, some sacred emotions, and a sacred sensibility; all memories mugged, as Julie Burchill once described it, in the interests of an insurance company's website.

To be precise, dogs, a man's feelings for his dog, and the public space of suburban parkland where a bloke goes to be alone with his sorrow. About losing his dog. It's the stuff of bloke-lit. Here's this type half way between supporting player cop in The Bill and decent South London crim', putting up lost dog posters for Lucky. In the park he's alternately shouting for the dog and moping on a bench. He's asking people if they've seen Lucky, and there's that feeling of manly commiseration, shared pain suppressed. A man knows how another man feels about losing his dog. Talk about emotional blackmail.

The music track's one of those gorgeous early Fifties heartfelt doo-wopy ballads. And, along the way, there are some lovely shots of this park/common affair; a Victorian bandstand, huge mature trees (I suspect somebody's been looking at Blow Up). Then it's back home through the dark suburban streets. And then – and this is the difficult part – there he is hunched over the laptop at the kitchen table and the voice-over – modern set-back Account Director RP – gets going into his pitch about "More Than", which is the Royal and SunAlliance insurance company's help-line/Enquire Within Upon Everything/website affair. "Because we know you value your health: More Than gives you access to ... pets, healthcare, cars, investments..."

So is More Than another poster site for lost dog notices, or a resource centre for sad men ("Dealing with dog loss") or what exactly? And then they show you the screen. It's green of course – up pop all those useful items – and it's a million miles from the original heartbreak.

Financial services companies really and absolutely shouldn't pretend to human feelings – a) nobody believes them, and b) they then look all the same ie no brand separation. By far my favourite insurance ad featured Norman the useful Nerd, who was forever anticipating accidents – and saving people from them – because he was so truly, madly, deeply actuarial.

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