Peter York on Ads: Feisty model with a fabulous body ... shame about the car

Vauxhall Corsa
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The Independent Online

Naomi Campbell's a Cherokee person now, promoting Tesco's "private label" clothing range. The central joke in the commercial is that Miss Campbell's thoroughly bad-tempered and badly behaved. She doesn't like the red price sticker that keeps attaching itself to her new clothes, so she bats it away, she sprays it with champagne and generally looks as if she might do it GBH. All this derives from her newspaper reputation, which has her shouting and slapping all day long, when she's not going into Narcotics Anonymous.

Naomi Campbell's a Cherokee person now, promoting Tesco's "private label" clothing range. The central joke in the commercial is that Miss Campbell's thoroughly bad-tempered and badly behaved. She doesn't like the red price sticker that keeps attaching itself to her new clothes, so she bats it away, she sprays it with champagne and generally looks as if she might do it GBH. All this derives from her newspaper reputation, which has her shouting and slapping all day long, when she's not going into Narcotics Anonymous.

But when the world was young, before Tony Blair was Prime Minister, before the dot.com bust, when Peter Mandelson had a moustache and things could only get better, we thought differently about Naomi, as a goddess among goddesses. Back then, in 1993, when Vauxhall launched its new little Corsa, they bought a job lot of supermodels to promote it. And even by the standards of car advertising, which is all about giant production budgets, this was quite something.

The Corsa commercial had a Batman-ish theme and a Rotten Gotham Chrysler building hyper-deco look, like Anton Furst's dramatic original designs. It's the Eighties brought to the boil. You wouldn't see anything this narrative or this colourful now. We'd get attitude or art, something silvery with a new effects package, like Audi's storm of whirling letters or Peugeot's clever dancing car-parts creature.

This is a big hair, big shoulder pads kind of commercial. The gang's all there - Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz and Naomi, and they're fiercely jealous of the new little Corsa, the new supermodel.

They're attempting to savage it in panto ways. They cut giant chandelier chains with boomerangs to crush it. They pour ink from the top of epic newspaper buildings to spoil it. Naomi, in tight leather and a gay disco peaked cap, threatens a tethered man who's been ogling the car. "You like the way I look best don't you?"

At the end the Corsa faces the press - brown double-breasteds, trilbys and pre-war flashbulbs - on a revolving stage and a supermodel falls over, like Naomi's famous catwalk fall off her Westwood platforms. Very Guys and Dolls. But ultimately the most dating thing about this engaging period piece is the car, which looks ancient and cheap throughout.

Peter@sru.co.uk

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