Advertising: So could this mascara ad run and run?

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The Independent Online

Remember 1997? Oh come on, you must. It wasn't just the year when the Magic Resolution party won the election; it was the year when we were it. Glowing in that Swinging London Mark II coverage. Brit Pop. Cool Britannia. Several hundred people in New York thought several hundred people in London were wonderful and the whole nation was pathetically grateful. Just like 1966 when Newsweek did it before.

Remember 1997? Oh come on, you must. It wasn't just the year when the Magic Resolution party won the election; it was the year when we were it. Glowing in that Swinging London Mark II coverage. Brit Pop. Cool Britannia. Several hundred people in New York thought several hundred people in London were wonderful and the whole nation was pathetically grateful. Just like 1966 when Newsweek did it before.

It was all semi-conscious pastiche. Our Liam lying there with Patsy Kensit under the flag, the new boys out in Savile Row. For every character, every style, there was a '60s archetype: for Oasis and Blur rivalry, read Stones and Beatles. And the story was always the same - namely cute guttersnipes in high places, the Young in the Old world. And loads of red.

Who exactly was Kate Moss's archetype? She wasn't a '60s model because, Jean Shrimpton included, they were all Home Counties comfortable. In background terms she's more like a '60s pop star, like Lulu or Sandy Shaw. Little Miss Foxy from the inner suburbs with her snaggly teeth and bad-food pallor. And utterly unlike the American supermodels with their glazed finish and diet books.

And now Little Miss Foxy's starring in a Swinging London commercial. It's for Rimmel Mascara and she's somewhere that's obviously meant to be Buckingham Palace, with its Victorian Cinderella red, white and gilt colouring.

As our Kate walks into shot, opens the mascara wand in a dynamic way and demonstrates the new extreme definition it gives - defining and separating every single lash - there's a lot going on behind. It's games with guardsmen. There's a girl swinging in on a balloon, wearing one of those '80s black taffeta dresses. The guardsmen - red jackets, red carpet, red Throne Room chairs - chase her. Then she's piggyback riding one of the lads, cracking the whip. And Kate is winking and gurning her little heart out all through it.

It's everything "English" you ever saw - a little bit Benny Hill, a whole lot Dandy Highwayman, and lovely bright colours. It's the only commercial in this aesthetic running now, and it's probably the end of the line.

Rimmel is an interesting brand, an amazing survivor from the days of Woolworths cheap cosmetics. It's always had a sort of Mod-on-the-cheap quality, so you won't be surprised that its sign-off is Rimmel, London.

peter@sru.co.uk

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