Peter York on Ads: I can't see this product doing anything for <i>my</i> aching back

K-Y Warming Liquid
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The Independent Online

The Mentholatum Deep Heat commercials of the 1970s have stuck in millions of mature British minds where other things - such as home address - now prove terribly elusive. This is because the resonant bass voice-over said "D-e-e-p Heat" in an echo-chamber, in a drawn-out sort of way. I can't remember what it showed, probably a broad back being massaged with it. I imagined it as a warm version of Vicks VapoRub, but the colour of raspberry jelly.

The Mentholatum Deep Heat commercials of the 1970s have stuck in millions of mature British minds where other things - such as home address - now prove terribly elusive. This is because the resonant bass voice-over said "D-e-e-p Heat" in an echo-chamber, in a drawn-out sort of way. I can't remember what it showed, probably a broad back being massaged with it. I imagined it as a warm version of Vicks VapoRub, but the colour of raspberry jelly.

New K-Y Warming Liquid must be something of the same kind, so it's surprising to find it advertised rather too late to catch the concerned, elderly backache sufferer who'll be in bed by 10pm.

This commercial is, so I strongly suspect, foreign - probably American (it has a man reading a broadsheet newspaper "Metro" section with that old-fashioned design you get in North America. The headline says something like "Man arraigned in stolen check case", but the ad has been re-rendered into British with a giggly voice-over.

Everything about this commercial is giggly - the voice-over says "create a gentle warming sensation on ... contact ... there's never been anything quite like it". At this point there is a great deal of eye contact between the female presenter who talks to camera and the male newspaper reader, unnecessary if you ask me. The woman has the Notting Hill, thirtysomething look, aspiring to the elegance of, say, the BBC's incomparable Francine Stock. However - and this is something I cannot imagine Ms Stock doing - she squeezes a drop of the warming liquid from the red nozzle on to her palm and says something about how "it takes work to keep a relationship alive". It's the kind of thing American women say. But what does it really mean?

The whole thing is tricked up to suggest a sophisticated metropolitan couple's lifestyle of a kind that the ultimate K-Y consumers, Darby and Joan in their cottage gardens, will not thank the K-Y company for. All this suggestive hoo-ha seems entirely misplaced for what is simply a new, improved "personal lubricant", or, in plain English, a back rub. They suggest visiting their website www.ky.com, but I imagine all except the most arthritically afflicted will give it a miss.

Peter@sru.co.uk

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