Peter York on Ads: A bit of Anna Friel whimsy that we just might not relate to

3 Mobile

Anna Friel. Where does she belong in the great scheme of things? Or has she got it - the whatever that makes you properly unplaceable? Pretty Miss Friel first came to our attention in a soap. And she is from the North. She was involved with British soap's first lesbian kiss, something which got a fair few Brookside viewers, normally in a Persistent Vegetative State, on the edges of their seats. And after that - I don't have the chapter and verse but one gets an impression - she became rather smart and Southern and even a bit NY-Lon. If you told me she was a part-time member of Miss Moss's gang of international lady tearaways I'd believe you. Somewhere along the way she'd become much more The Ivy than Alderley Edge, more Shoreditch than Scouse. She was at that point where you were thinking, "What next?" because she seemed to have a sort of unfocussed power of personality and she's very pretty in an evolved unsoapy way. And then the trail went cold.

Anna Friel. Where does she belong in the great scheme of things? Or has she got it - the whatever that makes you properly unplaceable? Pretty Miss Friel first came to our attention in a soap. And she is from the North. She was involved with British soap's first lesbian kiss, something which got a fair few Brookside viewers, normally in a Persistent Vegetative State, on the edges of their seats. And after that - I don't have the chapter and verse but one gets an impression - she became rather smart and Southern and even a bit NY-Lon. If you told me she was a part-time member of Miss Moss's gang of international lady tearaways I'd believe you. Somewhere along the way she'd become much more The Ivy than Alderley Edge, more Shoreditch than Scouse. She was at that point where you were thinking, "What next?" because she seemed to have a sort of unfocussed power of personality and she's very pretty in an evolved unsoapy way. And then the trail went cold.

And now she's in a mobile phone campaign. Has she made a mistake? Have they - the 3 network - made a mistake? Or have they absolutely thought the whole thing through?

It's a deeply whimsical, nice-looking, high-budget campaign, presumably targeted at women, with the idea that all the macho arguments about mobile phonology can be better explained in chick-literary fashion, with some aloe vera ideas about evolution - and breadsticks. Breadsticks star in the latest treatment. She's in a restaurant whose decoration is either inspired or unutterably naff, but completely unlike the ruling conventions of smart-ish London restaurant design. It's got a feature wall of random stone, it's got bright colour. The tables are configured in a non-geometric way. There's not a taupe leather wall in sight. Everything's like an old film. She's moving between the tables in a bright red off-the-shoulder dress with hair pulled back and dangly earrings like the woman, four glasses of chardonnay to the wind, who suddenly decides to tell the world her boyfriend's a bastard. What she's actually doing is demonstrating the financial virtues of 3's pay-as-you-go offer, through the homely medium of breadsticks: "Say you're a breadstick and you want to talk to a glass of wine, or the vinegar ... And the vinegar couldn't talk to the cake..." The sensible male voiceover cuts in here to tell you that some naughty pay-as-you-go suppliers could be charging you 40p a minute when they had to negotiate between vinegar and cakes, whereas 3-pay only charges you 5p a minute for voice-calls.

Meanwhile Anna's started saying the things crazed people do, like "did I just say that?" or "am I making any sense at all?" and you're expecting her to burst into tears. The diners are looking deeply embarrassed. And the question is, are women going to relate to all this in some deep pulsing elemental core of their being and adopt 3-pay as something that feels like them, or will they reject Arty Anna and the brand along with her?

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