Peter York on Ads: A garment that's at home in a wildly ersatz country pub

The Invisible Bra
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The Independent Online

You've got lots of channel choice on American TV. Especially if you like infomercials: there are about a million infomercial channels. Infomercials are those long, dogged, hard-sell videos for bread-makers and high-pressure hoses to clean garden paths. They're wonderfully literal-minded - this is how it works/ comes apart/cleans in hot soapy water. What it costs. How you pay.

You've got lots of channel choice on American TV. Especially if you like infomercials: there are about a million infomercial channels. Infomercials are those long, dogged, hard-sell videos for bread-makers and high-pressure hoses to clean garden paths. They're wonderfully literal-minded - this is how it works/ comes apart/cleans in hot soapy water. What it costs. How you pay.

Sometimes it's a two-up with a desperately smiling presenter and an inventor, doctor or expert whom she'll typically ask, "Just tell me again Dr Strangelove, exactly how wonderful can the Immaculate Conception home pizza oven be?" They're on a loop, with the same mini-programme played every 20 minutes.

The enterprising JML Marketing sells all sorts of notions of this kind in the UK - mini sewing machines, Pro Ceramic hair straighteners, anti-spatter things for the microwave - a mass of how-did-you-manage-withouts. It's somewhere between QVC and the Innovations catalogue. They're sold in very demotic distribution outlets such as Woolworths and Poundstretcher where the video loops starring the TV advertised product of the week roll endlessly. It's a particular kind of business model - identifying unrecognised demand, getting the price right and selling it like mad for a couple of months.

JML have two hot products going now. One's the Pro Ceramic straighteners, so you can look like an Atomic Kitten or an Average White Presenter (a look rather out of favour in evolved circles now). The other commercial is for the Invisible Bra and there's no easy way of saying that it features a lot of young women sticking flesh-coloured plastic supplements on to their breasts. The Invisible Bra voice-over uses a range of direct marketing genteelisms while all eyes are riveted to the screen. "It enhances your figure by giving you extra cup sizes ... no worrying about unsightly straps." It's "washable and reuseable", and it uses a "hypo-allergenic adhesive". It's utterly compulsive, all those girls trying on backless dresses and feeling up their enhanced supplements.

The pay-off is shown briefly on a date in a wildly ersatz-looking country pub. There she is, striding confidently towards him, very enhanced and noticeably cleaved. They kiss and you're wondering, what next? Isn't the plastic orb very visible in a low-cut dress, for a start? Anyway, just roll and press. For you, darling, just £19.99.

Peter@sru.co.uk

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