hard sell

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The Independent Online
Frozen food can do a lot for a woman. The days when convenience food meant guilt, and advertisers emphasised how nutritious it was for hubby and the kids are long gone. In fact, hubby himself is a bit scarce these days.In his place, frozen foods offer glamour and romance.

In the latest Birds Eye TV ad, the aroma of chicken marinade sweeps a housewife on to a Broadway stage and persuades the men delivering furniture to strip off their overalls and become tuxedoed dancers shimmying around her. They end up waiting on her at table. It's a dream, of course.

This is tame compared with Birds Eye's ad for cod steaks. An audience of women scream at a troupe of cod-steak strippers: "Just look at those hunks!" "And so tasty!" In case you missed the implication of the words "cod steak", the (black basso) male voiceoverinforms you: "You won't catch a bigger cod steak."

So boring old Birds Eye is brought spankingly up-to-date. The Birds Eye symbol, which once stood for the housewife's simple trust in quality control by white-coated men at the Birds Eye factory, becomes the discerning (rapacious, even) look of women with an appetite who know what they want. No wonder hubby isn't around. Chances are he won't pass muster.

The guys might be singing and tap-dancing for supper these days, but they needn't worry too much. The women at the Cod Chippendale concert are, after all, vegetables. Men may be sold as meat, but women without men are still side-orders without a main course. As in last year's ad for Walls' Too Good To Be True ice-cream, where a Chippendale doing the housework tells a reclining lovely that "Dinner's nearly ready, love," the adland joke lies in the widening gap between women's expectations and reality.

MARK SIMPSON

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