Peter York on Ads: Wassup? Cool frogs are dumped for a fridgeful of clichÃ©s
Sunday 09 May 2004
Are men disgusting? Do young single men in particular live in fetid squalor? It's the premise of a thousand ads. The recent BT one with the lad clearing up for a bit of video-conferencing with his parents was a funny version. Then there was that Yellow Pages thing where the girl thinks her neighbour's been robbed because his flat looks so thoroughly turned over. And so on.
But How Clean Is Your House? suggests anyone can do squalor. Alexandra Artley's brilliant 1980s invention, the Filth-Packets, were a married pair of upper-middle art historians who positively cultivated the mould; who let things lie where they fell and felt fussing was Pooterish. Life was more interesting with a used corn plaster on the table. And A N Wilson's recent biography of Iris Murdoch has some lovely stuff on the hopelessness of the Bailey house and the state of the lavatory in particular.
But the new made-in-America Budweiser commercial still has a boy in a comically ghastly apartment surrounded by a sea of stuff spread round practically to waist height. He's very young, a bit geeky, in a line of descent from Dustin Hoffman via David Schwimmer.
But there's a Dawson's Creek blonde on the entry-phone outside saying, as she's in the neighbourhood she thought she'd drop by.
He's telling her perhaps not, his place is kind of ... when she says she's got some Budweiser. And - great advertising cliché No 2 - he's so turned on he lets her in. By the time she's upstairs, the apartment's transformed. Absolute order. Lounge music. The brick feature wall showing to advantage. But while he puts the Bud in the fridge, she opens the closet door to hang her coat and the hidden contents of the room explode out - it's the one memorable thing in the ad, a completely brilliant effect - and squash her against the opposite wall. She'll have died instantly if there's any justice.
Budweiser seems to be going backwards. After "Wassup" and frogs, this kiddie-chasing double-cliché single-whammy stuff looks pretty feeble.
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Postcard from... The Vatican
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