Peter York On Ads: It's the pits for Ben Affleck and slumming stars

LYNX

It's marvellous being Big in Japan. Or Brazil. Or anywhere populous and far away where they go on loving you and buying your music/watching your films/reading your books long after the great world - the NY-LON-LA one - has forgotten you. A number of rather marginal and completely superannuated musicians remain surprisingly rich for just this reason; they love them out there. That means they can potter here, collect Stratocasters or punk ephemera at Christie's, unembarrassed by all the stuff they've done at the ends of the earth. No one sees the "character merchandising", the guest appearances at businessmen's conventions, or the ads.

The ads are really nice work if you can get it. Sometimes we are another Japan for Americans - a nice place to make commercials. Remember Burt Reynolds for Dolland & Aitchison, mobbing himself up as a vain old thing? Or Kim Cattrall (Samantha from Sex and the City) doing terrible Tetley tea ads? Or even George Clooney for Martini last Christmas? Our attractiveness increased for Americans when we became the creative centre for Europe - with British commercials being adapted and aired in pan-European campaigns. That way you could make proper money from a few days' filming, away from the backyard, with nobody speculating on your current movie bankability or alimony situation.

And it was lovely to get the attention again, the respect for being the real American article. The whole glorious ancient ritual of fan worship. Especially obsessional foreign high-brow fans who know your work better than you do, who've thought it through in a Tokyo cultural studies sort of way and tell you what you meant by things - a weight of subtlety and sub-textiness you never knew you had. But flattering and rewarding as it is, your agent usually insists it doesn't play at home. At home - in Britain or the US - you're either a player or a recluse but you're not to be seen milking it or fighting it out with the C-list.

Latterly, it's got even better: appearing in the right commercial could just mean your best role ever. Something you're not so shy about after all because you can show a new, cleverer side. You can get into thoughtful self-parody if you're property directed. Do something prize-winning, stake out your next career move. Good ads have gone up in the world.

Lynx is an improbable product for a joke market - anxious early-adolescent boys - but it's sustained by brilliant British advertising. Humour has allowed Lynx to target the Kevin and Perry set, and sensitive cultural judgements have kept it credible and watchable.

But now it's gone for something rather different, a Hollywood star vehicle that's weighted down with all the familiar expectations and limitations. What did Ben Affleck's agent demand, and what did he conclusively, legally and globally forbid?

Affleck's problem is that he hasn't quite made it as an A-list actor (he was OK in Shakespeare in Love) and he doesn't seem all that likeable or convincing as a personality. He's cast as a joke babe-magnet here because he's big and buff and wears a tight sweater well.

The running joke is that he's clicking up the attention he gets from foxes everywhere on his daily rounds (is it Rodeo Drive or Bluewater?) on one of those little traffic-counting things. Lovely girls at the coffee shop or the dry cleaners hold his eye while he clicks away. The conceit is his raging self-regard; the problem is you're inclined to believe it. He doesn't strike you as exactly self-doubting. In a typical Hollywood trope - and this will have been closely defined in the contract - he gets The Look from a gay black salesman and goes through a heavy-handed bit of mime - liberal, comfortable in his own skin - clicking it up.

The payoff is that the short, weedy lift boy can show him more clicks on his machine because he's spraying every scrawny working part with "Click", the latest Lynx line in aerosol air-freshener. So we end on Affleck mugging too hard as the lift doors close.

This could've been creamy fun - most Lynx advertising is - but the casting is off. But, of course, this judgement would have to be comprehensively revised if my Playing Away premise is all wrong and it's being screened in God's Own Country.

Peter@sru.co.uk

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Business Development and Analytics - TV

competitive benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Outstanding analytic expertise is req...

Head of ad sales international - Broadcast

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you the king or Queen o...

Business Development Manager Content/Subscriptions

£50k + commission: Savvy Media Ltd: Great opportunity to work for a team that ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?