Column One: Farewell - but, oh, how you spoiled us, Mr Ambassador

HOW DID they ever tell him? How did they tell Signor Ferrero, the eponymous octogenarian head of the Italian sweetie-maker Ferrero Rocher, that Brits - some of them at least - laughed at his television advertising; that they thought it was vulgar, Eighties, OTT. Did they ever tell him?

The original Ferrero Rocher TV commercials, conceived in Italy by the Ferrero Rocher in-house advertising people, Publiregia, filmed in Euroland and dubbed for the world, were gorgeous, trashy, utterly un-English and hugely successful. They added "Continental" edge to an affordable sweetmeat overwhelmingly given at Christmas. They were in the great tradition of Martini ads and Bond movies. In a Britain that was still nearer to Reg Varney and On The Buses than Cool Britannia when the first version came out, that meant wildly glamorous.

They were not - absolutely not - conceived by creatives with a NW1 and St Martin's sensibility working in an ironic mode. They don't do things like that in Euroland. They're not like us, you know.

It couldn't have been straighter - meaning it was old-fashioned aspirational advertising meant to show that people of high degree and great physical attractiveness held the foil-wrapped crunchy chocolatey balls very dear and served them at their grandest parties. You don't design big international campaigns to catch the Perrier Awards audience.

Those of us who liked the ads and the product in the first place but also saw its hilarious subtext were equally sincere. It was funny, it was OTT and it was glamorous, too. What would you rather have for Christmas chocs' advertising - Jo Brand and Jenny Eclair?

The Ferrero Rocher aesthetic - nouveaux Euro-trash, Monte Carlo funny money, Ivana Trump - reminds me of some amazing things we only glimpse here.

But now they have canned the glam ads. Tonight is the last night, a special showing; look your last on all things lovely.

Ferrero Rocher's British agency is running a new "humorous" commercial with a British suburban setting now, featuring a hostess who wants to keep all the chocs for herself.

No embassy backdrop, no butler, no pyramid of golden balls on a silver tray, no Bond-style beauties of all nations, no "you're spoiling us, Mr Ambassador". All swept away by the tide of history, to be replaced by... Abigail's Party.

I blame the Clive James tendency - the wish to trade in popular culture but show your middle-brow audience that you're miles above it and they can be too. Instant irony.

Ordinary people were forced to deny an innocent private pleasure for fear of being thought unsophisticated (and no doubt all this showed up in the UK research where people will have said the ad was old-fashioned, risible and "unreal").

But the fact is, spoil-sports, that gorgeous world exists; a few years ago at a party at the Italian Embassy I saw Joan Collins - a vision in that season's Versace - bid good night to the ambassador. I could swear she said: "You're spoiling us, Mr Ambassador."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Advisor - Opportunities Available Nationwide

£15000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to ...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Special Needs Support Worker

£12 - £14 per hour: Recruitment Genius: We are looking for someone to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Content Assistant / Copywriter

£15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence