Advertising: Floating people and that sinking feeling

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The Independent Online

Man pops out of the telly - bang crash, think Poltergeist - eats the mother-in-law on the spot, very quick, but masses of blood - think German internet stuff - flies around the room and back into the TV. Your room, your telly, dark, edgy, post-Matrix. Johnny Vaughan voice-over. I'm talking water-cooler sensation. I'm talking serious destabilisations. And then again, perhaps no. It's really hard pitching those campaigns built around the newest trick in the special effects company's box of samples. The clients are saying astonish us, give us an exclusive - and build brand relationships too. But the whole TV advertising business is actually built on SFX steroids now. And it's desperately hard to get off. There's that initial high when all those planning problems fall away. With one bound, ad men and clients are free; there's a Magic Resolution and every-thing's going to come right.

Man pops out of the telly - bang crash, think Poltergeist - eats the mother-in-law on the spot, very quick, but masses of blood - think German internet stuff - flies around the room and back into the TV. Your room, your telly, dark, edgy, post-Matrix. Johnny Vaughan voice-over. I'm talking water-cooler sensation. I'm talking serious destabilisations. And then again, perhaps no. It's really hard pitching those campaigns built around the newest trick in the special effects company's box of samples. The clients are saying astonish us, give us an exclusive - and build brand relationships too. But the whole TV advertising business is actually built on SFX steroids now. And it's desperately hard to get off. There's that initial high when all those planning problems fall away. With one bound, ad men and clients are free; there's a Magic Resolution and every-thing's going to come right.

Now think Baileys. Gorgeous sticky milk and alcohol by-product. Shameless liquid confectionery for grannies and everyone else. Now well beyond its original naff barrier into happy camp, acceptable everywhere - we all know it's a way to make ice cream or cocktails.

But this clearly isn't enough for all concerned. How to contemporise, how to make sure it's on a younger shopping list and in a different cupboard? How to be intensely relevant? The answer's obviously flying people. Weightless people like in space. Weightless flying people in a bar. Young, flying, weightless people in a bar. A seriously relevant contemporary bar with the converted prison high-window look. Lots of brick like the foyer in The Hudson, Ian Schrager's New York hotel.

How do they do that? Don't know, don't really care any more. Somehow one knew flying people just had to happen. After seahorses, after naked dolphin people jumping out of the waves it's what you expect. Come to that haven't we seen it before somewhere?

It's nice enough. Because it's a weightless world the Baileys shoots out of the bottle and flies round the room in wobbly blobs. (Like the new Persil ad you feel there's been a fair bit of psycho-bongo work applied here). It's in that tinted, filtered, black-and-white, with-body-colour palette this kind of director likes so much. "Infectious" is the theme; Baileys is deeply infectious and positively viral. The music, incidentally, has a touch of the ironic easy listening lounge revival style of a few years back. All this just to get those 21st-century Abigails to remember Baileys when they're partying.

Peter@sru.co.uk

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