Advertising: Pimms packs a punch with cocktail of toffs and toms

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The Independent Online

What is Pimms for? Who is it for? Every summer its owner has to say something about Pimms so caterers are spurred to keep it in their orders for garden parties and corporate hospitality.

What is Pimms for? Who is it for? Every summer its owner has to say something about Pimms so caterers are spurred to keep it in their orders for garden parties and corporate hospitality. Some people may even buy it for themselves. The Pimms mood is a bit like the Gentlemen's Relish mood: it's a bit marginal.

The Pimms people always used to play it the obvious way, the aspirational way – the Henley way. Then someone clearly put the wind up them about becoming too old Sloaney, losing out on lots of lovely young New Money that was altogether more Lock Stock and Tate Modern-ish – people who like a bit of attitude. I suspect they found this advice paralysing because a couple of years ago they started a campaign so oblique that every- one lost the Pimms plot. It involved people of mixed ages running into the sea and running back on to the beach. It was clueless. There were no stylistic reference points except for its vague artiness.

They should've played to their strengths, of course, with some sort of updated posh. Four Weddings, the first and only credible Sloane film, would've been a great jumping-off point. But now, better late than never, Pimms has a new comedy ad with a bumbling upper-middle character with nice manners and a posh voice. It's really rather good.

It's a bit Hugh, of course, and a bit Tim-Nice-But-Dim but saved by the casting – the extra-ordinarily believable Alexander Armstrong, who gives a strong impression of that very outgoing TV tycoon Peter Bazalgette, with a smidge of the media shrink Oliver James. It's a very knowing performance.

In one treatment he meets a group of comic prostitutes on the street (they look like that family of girls in EastEnders). Does he want a good time? He's having one already: "Four of you, one of me, I make that Pimms o'clock." And out comes the wicker basket and the bottle of Pimms. A jiffy later and they're bonding. The girls say they work for the needy. An old kerb-crawler in a Jag approaches and our boy says: "Your father's come to pick you up – hello, Judge Thornton."

It's all very broad stuff. No art. No attitude. Happy, clever. Silly, charmed-life people who bond easily with the amusing traditional underclass – toms and comic crooks – drink Pimms at every opportunity. Now if only we could get that message on to the mean streets of south London, we'd soon see a change.

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