Peter York on Ads: Four characters in search of a phone

Phones 4 U
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The Independent Online

What would happen if it was found that mobile phones really do fry our brains? Would the scientists be smeared or incarcerated, bumped off, or what? What would happen if mobiles were banned until they were safe? The economy seems to be organised round them. The shops are central to every high street and business park. Certainly mobiles are vital to adland. They're a huge advertiser category which produces ambitious commercials.

What would happen if it was found that mobile phones really do fry our brains? Would the scientists be smeared or incarcerated, bumped off, or what? What would happen if mobiles were banned until they were safe? The economy seems to be organised round them. The shops are central to every high street and business park. Certainly mobiles are vital to adland. They're a huge advertiser category which produces ambitious commercials.

The latest Phones 4 U advertising doesn't have a single looker or a moment's SFX. It draws on a decade of TV from Twin Peaks through Royston Vasey and Little Britain to make its own world of wonder in a pub quiz.

It's got that unreconstructed northern pub/community centre look. At first viewing you think it's that remote bar in American Deliverance country. But there are pints on the table and grannies in macs, so it must be us. There's an American quizmaster on stage working desperately because the running gag is just how dim these harmless underclass people actually are.

All the questions have the same answer - Phones 4 U - and no matter how many clues the dynamic, tactile Jack provides, they never get it.

The idea is to get Jack's sign-language version of Phones 4 U into the national repertoire. They've got four "characters". There's an ultra-geek, an overweight 11-year-old boy and another overweight young man with bottle glasses and a blocked nose, wearing a browband. Then there's the key character, a round-faced, 40-ish woman with unkempt hair and rolling eyes.

People get agitated when commercials mock the tremendously simple, but I'm afraid this cast could just enter our national life.

Peter@sru.co.uk

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