Stefano Hatfield On Advertising

Fashion brands show stunning hypocrisy in dumping Kate Moss
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The Independent Online

Moss is human in a way Claudia, Helena and Christy never were, and that Naomi from up the road in Streatham should be. Kate seemed to be really living her incredibly glamorous life. Yes, Johnny Depp aside, she made some - er - eccentric boyfriend choices, but that added to the allure. She's surely a hopeless romantic to fall and stay in love with Pete Babyshambles rather than the latest spray-tan eurotrash millionaire. In short, she's a top girl.

She ran/runs with the fast set: Sadie, Sienna and Stella, Jude and Jade. The bright youngish things who fill our tabloids, even if they don't quite sell them. An air of decadence hangs over them: endless nights out on the sauce, captured by the paps. Always, she looked gorgeous the next day. What kind of sauce? It didn't seem to matter to readers, despite the innuendo. Then the Sunday Mirror took the plunge and accused her of cocaine abuse, and paid a legal penalty.

And now the recent allegations in the Daily Mirror, and the subsequent pummelling from the other tabloids and then the brands she endorsed. One by one, H&M, Chanel and Burberry have disowned her since the Mirror's story. It all leaves a very unpleasant taste in the mouth.

Did they really think she was pure as the driven snow (sorry) before the Mirror story? Did they really sign up one of the most beautiful, wealthy, fashionable and fun young women in the land unaware that she may dabble in dodgy substances in a world that is rife with cocaine? Were they really immune to all the nudge-nudge stories over the years. Did they think she and Pete did milk and cookies at home every night?

To be serious, are they telling us that the world of fashion is cocaine-free, that the world of advertising is? Or journalism for that matter?

Kate Moss, a 14-year-old Riddlesdown High schoolgirl who was famously spotted at an airport by Sarah Doukas of Storm model agency, was made a star on her edgy, somewhat darker image. She first shot to fame via a series of photographs I can still remember seeing in The Face in 1990. She was the waif-like riposte to wholesome Cindy Crawford; the face of Calvin Klein at 19; subsequently synonymous with heroin chic.

In various interviews over the years she has admitted to past drug experiences. She has been in "the clinic" for exhaustion. Model after model has been caught using, or is known to use cocaine - because it is an appetite suppressant; because it relieves the boredom of the job. Are you - H&M, Chanel, Burberry - seriously telling us you did not know? In this case the sin of being caught in public is all too clear.

For further proof, look to the initial reactions. H&M was going to stand by her. Then the other tabloids went after her, and perhaps a customer or two was heard voicing a doubt. So, when it belatedly looked like she could not ride out the storm, and it would cost them money, THEN they dumped her. The hypocrisy is stunning.

Of course, Moss should know better at 31. Of course, there is a child to worry about, and of course she is an iconic role model to more than us hero-deprived Croydonians. But, we all know that the whole sorry saga is not about that - it's about the British disease of destroying those we have built up.

In this case perhaps the advertisers will actually suffer more by dumping her - especially H&M, which plays on its urban cool image. The girls at Riddlesdown and thousands of others like them are not suddenly going to stop wanting to be like Kate. They know drugs are all around, because, whether society likes it or not, drugs are all around them. You can't buy glamour or culture in Croydon but you can buy drugs. They have to make their own choices day in, day out.

Once she has dutifully and publicly checked herself into the Priory for rehab, I hope there are others who will sign her up. If only FCUK was still a slogan it would be a natural choice, but how about the chain I wrote of last week; one that was formerly edgy, but had lost its way and needs to rehab itself and find new meaning in its more mature years? A clean Kate Moss for Benetton, anyone?

AFTER YEARS of denying it flatly, ITV was carpeted by the Advertising Standards Authority last week for playing ads louder than the programmes. Technically speaking the volume is not higher, but somehow the background sounds are compressed so they come out at the same peak volume as the programmes around them, and it all sounds louder. It's a relief to know my ears have not been deceiving me for years. Shame I can't say the same about ITV.

TALKING OF ITV, what on earth possessed Charles Allan and Co to get rid of not just one but the two key figures at the top of the organisation that had relationships with the advertising industry? And, just ahead of the crucial negotiating season to boot?

Mick Desmond and Graham Duff are among the best known, and respected, TV airtime salesmen around. To lose one of them at this time might be seen to be careless but to lose two needs further explanation - despite the undoubted talents and abilities of Gary Digby (acting head of sales).

It's given the likes of Procter & Gamble's media buyer Bernard Balderston the chance to get an early upper hand in negotiations, and for ITV sales to be tarred with suggestions of a "return to the bad old days" of confrontation. New commercial director Ian McCulloch will indeed in the typically blunt words of Balderston need to "put himself about" a bit, but I can't help thinking there is more to this all than has come out. Yet.

MCCANN-ERICKSON looks like it is starting to prepare for life after longtime boss, worldwide CEO John Dooner. Appointing Eric Keshin to the newly created worldwide COO role allows the (much missed in London Aussie Brett Gosper to become US president just a year after he first left McCann for TBWA. This was always going to happen. Gosper has long had the air of future worldwide CEO about him, and it's a sharp appointment by McCann, who need some good news right now.

e-mail other Croydon celebrities to stefanohat1@aol.com

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