Claire: Beale: A phone call used to do it, but now you need to Yell

On Advertising

It’s time for interviewers to do a little self-questioning. With Piers Morgan installed on CNN as “the new Larry King” and the BBC sheepishly parting company with its gaffe-prone chat show host, Jonathan Ross, the interview discipline is struggling to retain its sense of gravitas.

Readers of a certain age will remember JR Hartley. The old gent trawling secondhand bookshops for a copy of Fly Fishingwas advertising gold. Good old Yellow Pages reunited the fictional author with a copy of his magnum opus and Mr Hartley could die happy. Notso Yellow Pages.

Thirty years onand the big book has lost its relevance. In a Google world, who needs a paper directory that’s out of date before it’s left the printers? YellowPages is now Yell, and a new ad campaign wants us to know it’s also a website and an app. This time it’s Day V Lately, a washed up DJtrying to track down a vinyl copy of his early 1990s trance hit Pulse and Thunder.The new ad is a homage to the original. But what a difference three decades make. Back in old Hartley’s time, the blockbuster TV ad was a commercial firework. It launched, we oo-ed and ah-ed and then it was over.

Now a TV ad is just one flame of a commercial bonfire that smoulders long before and after that TV campaign has done its work. So should you happen to be a fan of early ‘90s trance tracks, you might discover a dog-eared vinyl copy of Pulse and Thunder in your local second hand record shop. Buyit and you’ll win a home DJ set-up. Search the web and you’ll find limited editions of the tune available, and check out dayvlately. com and you’ll find what looks like a 1990s website for the DJ.

According to Rapier, the agency behind the campaign, creating a sitewithcrude graphics typical of the early days of the web was one of the hardest things to get right. The new Yell work is a brilliant example of how multi-layered campaigns can be. But you can’t help feeling nostalgic for a time when you could make an ad, show it on the two channels available, and wait for the nation to applaud. Claire Beale is editor of Campaign

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