Advertising: You've read his books, now see his commercial

You don't get many books on TV. A good, English-made commercial for a trade book is a remarkable thing
Click to follow
The Independent Online

I'm not sure I've ever read a whole Tony Parsons' novel. But I feel as if I have because they transmute into so many forms you can just breathe them in. Man and Boy was on telly with the Welsh Hornblower actor as the hero dad. And there've been excerpts here and there. And didn't TP himself read it on the radio? And wasn't he in Paul Whitehouse's Happiness series, which is part of the overlapping Hornby Country, so the narrative strands could have been blended.

It's this multimedia, intellectual property aspect of Tony's work that makes questions like "what kind of novel is this and where does it belong on the continuum between Anita Brookner and Jackie Collins?" entirely irrelevant. It also makes it inevitable that TP's publisher HarperCollins should think it worth advertising Man and Wife, his new novel, on mainstream TV with a very professional 30-second commercial. It will recoup the investment.

You don't get many books advertised on TV; those that are tend to be American straight-to-supermarket genre paperbacks, and the commercials are usually grim and perfunctory. And made in the US. So a good, simple, English-made commercial for a trade book is a remarkable thing.

I do know that TP's novels are about Being A Man Now and facing up to responsibility/marriage/ fatherhood, and that he's got the territory to himself (or rather he's got the brand for it). The blended family is the contemporary man's problem and the Man and Wife commercial has a young boy describing it in wonderfully simple ways. In a nice bourgeois child's bedroom, a boy of about eight or nine acts out his 21st-century extended family with dolls and teddies on his bed. "Once upon a time there was a man and a boy and his mum ... oh, and his mum's boyfriend ..."

These and many more relationships and complications besides - ending up with Dad's new Japanese girlfriend - are shuffled around on the sheets. Dad, the big teddy, goes off all sad when Mum adulterates with her shiny Barbie boyfriend. New characters jet in on toy aeroplanes or pillion in on clockwork motorbikes. The theme is "family life just got more complicated". And, men, don't we know it. And it's really good, too.

The repeat-purchase call-to-arms is that it's the sequel to Man and Boy. And the thing I especially noticed in this most effective commercial is that the boy's voice-over is unequivocally that of an upper-middle-class Islington media child who's going on to St Paul's or Westminster followed by King's College, Cambridge. And I don't think it's remotely accidental, either.

Peter@sru.co.uk

Comments