Comedy 'better than sex' in ads

Comedy is better than sex when it comes to wooing the British public, the advertising industry believes.

Comedy is better than sex when it comes to wooing the British public, the advertising industry believes.

Adverts for John Smith's beer, featuring Peter Kay and Danny Baker, and commercials for the directory inquiries service The Number, featuring runners with big moustaches, are among the Advertising Producers Association's new list of the cream of comical British adverts.

The 50 best UK adverts of the past 12 months, drawn up by a 30-strong industry panel, will be unveiled at a ceremony at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London tonight. Steve Davies, the chairman of the association, said: "There's an ever-increasing sophistication. You can't tell the public your product or service is good, you're connecting with them in a much subtler way. Humour is a great tradition in British advertising. Advertising reflects our television culture and we are a nation that likes comedy, from Fawlty Towers to The Office."

The adverts for Orange mobile phones, making fun of a film-funding panel who try to twist ideas for movies to include mobile phones and the word "orange", have made it into the list for the second year running. Using a well-known comedian such as Kay can have a particularly strong impact. "If you use a well-known and well-loved comedian, before you have even kicked off your 30 seconds of advertising, you have bought into the brand value of that comedian," said Claire Beale, editor of the industry journal Campaign.

Overtly sexual advertising appears to have lost its pulling power. "Sexual imagery in terms of the old Flake commercials or scantily clad women on cars is seen as a bit cheesy," said Mr Davies. "There's a sense that sex has lost its mystery and doesn't have the same cut-through."

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