Advertising: How Sony thought outside the box

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The Independent Online

Two blokes on a sofa watching racing on TV. They're shouting away. "Come on, Glochamorrah!" or similar. It could be Wassup, or Pringles. It could be a hundred campaigns. At the end of the race they're on their feet, pressed against the screen, shot from behind the TV.

Two blokes on a sofa watching racing on TV. They're shouting away. "Come on, Glochamorrah!" or similar. It could be Wassup, or Pringles. It could be a hundred campaigns. At the end of the race they're on their feet, pressed against the screen, shot from behind the TV.

Then things go all funny, all Poltergeist special effects. A kind of horse-box ramp goes down in the back of the TV and out troops the post-race paddock set: the horses, owners, trainers, all miniature and perfect, with a sound-track of Sloane women doing social wa-wa. We've seen it before, of course, this particular effect – there's the club bar that becomes a kind of race track in a beer commercial, for instance – but it's very nicely done.

Then couch potato one hears them and shows couch potato two and they point and gurn in freeze frame and the end-line comes up. So far, so conventional. But the blokes? Only two of them? Jamie O travels mob-handed with his mates; Pringles need a crowd of at least six. And you usually get some girls – girls who like sport, girls who can shout with the best of them. Just two blokes, that's sad, isn't it? Then their haircuts, the kind of modified all-purpose Prince Valiant that vaguely artsy middle-aged media types used to wear. And they're definitely middle-aged, ie 35 going on 70. Let's face it, they're a type of person who doesn't actually appear in this type of bloke/sofa/TV sport type of commercial. They're the kind of desperate, believable Ancient British Blokes that have been banned from the world of Wassup.

Actually, the commercial's for Sony – for its tremendously clever advanced Trinitron colour TVs. "Sony's famous Trinitron colour picture", they say. "It's so lifelike you almost believe the people are real." Now there's a nice straightforward bit of copy, a right-on product performance claim. No attitude, no social comment, no obliquity.

This commercial dates from February 1976. It's another ghost in my machine, a gremlin on my reel. So we got blokes on a sofa and miniature-world special effects way back then; it's really interesting to see where ideas come from.

Peter@sru.co.uk

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