Advertising: Bloke in the pub said ...

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The Independent Online

Time was you had to get up a petition, send your children up chimneys and your wife on the streets to get a mortgage. But now there's a whole breed of thirtysomethings who remortgage practically every month, if the "interest watch" software in their PCs tells them to. They're completely fearless.

Time was you had to get up a petition, send your children up chimneys and your wife on the streets to get a mortgage. But now there's a whole breed of thirtysomethings who remortgage practically every month, if the "interest watch" software in their PCs tells them to. They're completely fearless.

The mortgage market is hugely competitive. Everyone's at it, with soft sell brand advertising and hard sell figure talk. But getting good deals remains confusing precisely because there's so much on offer, and so many angles. And remember how those endowment mortgages, sold so hard in the '80s and '90s, failed people when the stock market went down?

So we're set up for a sort of Fast Show sketch - practically everything in modern life is. It's the Pub Pundit one, where people show off and the Paul Whitehouse character changes his view every time he's challenged.

And off they go, in black and white, with the first man saying your mortgage should be linked to your pension. "No, no, no," butts in a black woman. "It should be capped to base rate." "No, no, no," says an Islington Oxbridge man with sweetie hair - an Oliver or a Matthew - "a switching mortgage interest-only tracker like ours". "Don't listen to him," says his wife (in The Fast Show she'd probably have added he was terrible in bed).

"There are so many mortgages to choose from," wails an ingénue to her husband. And then the barmaid brings closure by introducing the one idea they can all relate to, a challenger brand with a reputation for cutting through old nonsense. A brand based on the telephone, on accessibility.

"I went to Direct Line," she says. "They did it all over the phone and their rates are great." Cut to the bar, with the red telephone glowing on it. After that, the screen fills up with information and everything's red and royal blue. You could save £10,000 in interest if you pay a bit more upfront. You could get a personal illustration. Call this number. And the telephone does its cheery circuit to that familiar ringtone.

This ad won't win any prizes, but they really know how to use the brand - the one that makes things simpler and straighter and more affordable. So it's absolutely on the money.

Peter@sru.co.uk

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