Hit & Run: The faces don't fit
Wednesday 07 January 2009
When a world-famous celebrity decides to endorse an insurance company, the chances are it's not because they've saved 100 quid on their home contents cover. More likely, they've been offered a considerably larger sum for approximately half a day's work. How else to explain Iggy Pop's bizarre appearance in a new advertising campaign for Swiftcover? In the television commercial, the perenially topless Mr Pop explains that his crazy life leaves him little time or patience for paperwork. Swiftcover.com, however, stores all his information securely online without him having to think about it: "Get a life!" he orders us, "Get Swiftcovered!"
It would be easy to accuse Pop of selling his punk soul to the man, but then his songs, if not his face, have been used in ads before – "The Passenger", for instance, seems like it's been propping up dodgy car commercials for years. And Pop is not the first punk to front a brand rather than a band. Last year, Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols (whose reformations and reality TV appearances have all been, he admits financially motivated) appeared in an ad campaign for Country Life butter.
"Johnny Rotten's incongruity is part of the reason why that ad stands out," says Claire Beale, editor of advertising industry weekly Campaign. "It's not a great ad but it has cut through. You might say the same for Iggy Pop. The strange collision of a brand and a celebrity can really give it some prominence in a sea of otherwise bland advertising. Swiftcover's commercial is a bit of a turkey but here we are talking about it. If you're watching TV, half-asleep on your sofa, it's the sort of ad that makes you go, 'That's weird, why have they done that?' and you probably spend a bit more time thinking about it."
More bewildering still is the latest £10m advertisement for another insurer, Norwich Union, which is soon to change its name to Aviva. The ad stars Bruce Willis, Alice Cooper, Elle Macpherson, Ringo Starr and Dame Edna Everage – all of whom changed their names to give themselves a realistic shot at fame ("Would Walter Willis have got to play the leading man?" asks Bruce). Further pseudonymous celebrities are being lined up for later commercials. The cheesy payoff? "Sometimes a change of name is more than a change of name... Sometimes it's a chance to show the world who you've always wanted to be."
"Johnny Rotten has a two-fingers-up attitude," Beale explains, "which makes it look like he's in on the joke with his ad – that he's complicit with it, that everyone will think he's sold out but he doesn't care. Whereas the stars in the Aviva ad are doing it much more straight-facedly."
Would Willis be so willing to advertise such an unsexy brand in the US? Is Britain the new Japan – where the A-list can take the money and run, without damaging their own global brand? "These celebrities must consider the risk [of negative exposure] low," says Beale. "They must not think the British market big enough to taint their reputation in America." Haven't they heard of YouTube? Tim Walker
Is it cold enough to get away with a duvet coat?
If your winter wardrobe leaves you cold, you're not alone. Staying chic and keeping warm is one of fashion's greatest challenges, notably achieved by Julie Christie in Doctor Zhivago and Tilda Swinton as Narnia's Snow Queen. It may be arctic, but duvet coats are not acceptable; if the girls from All Saints couldn't pull them off, you can't either. (The only time that look worked was when Viktor & Rolf put a sleeping bag-dress, pictured, on the catwalk a few seasons ago). Neither are bobbly knits that look like they've been worn by several generations of rimy Norwegian fishermen.
Instead, remember your school physics lessons – many thin layers trap heat better than one thick one, and you run less risk of looking like the Michelin man. That's no doubt the logic behind the layering trends at Alexander Wang and Marc Jacobs. A cashmere vest does little on its own, so top up your temperature with long-sleeved tees, lightweight jumpers and fine-knit cardigans – perfect for an off-duty style, and for maintaining a slim silhouette.
Headgear is also essential winter garb – berets and beanies go a long way to smarten and freshen up dull outerwear, but the cognoscenti are in fur trapper hats, complete with ear flaps and a chin strap. Incredibly effective and there are plenty of faux fur versions around. The Russians are really the only nation who manage to look like they mean business in cold weather, so channel a bit of Siberian chic to keep Jack Frost, and the fashion police, at bay. Harriet Walker
Get bowels just like Gwyneth's
It must be great being Gwyneth Paltrow. Not only is she rich and famous, but her digestive system is absolutely spotless. In the January newsletter for her lifestyle website GOOP, she reveals her personal seven-day detox to shift "holiday excess", complete with advice on how to prevent "sluggish" bowel movement. Lovely.
In addition to recommending a diet of cucumber smoothies, grilled chicken and soy-free miso soup, she helpfully adds that "you can accelerate things by drinking half a cup of castor oil or using a mild herbal laxative. Bowel elimination is paramount for correct detoxification." Too much information. Tarah Welsh
Why a woman in love smells bad
When women fall in love, they lose their hearts – and their sense of smell. Scientists at McGill University in Montreal carried out blind trials in which women sniffed T-shirts that had been worn by male and female friends, strangers, and their partner. The women most besotted by their boyfriends (as determined by scores on a Cosmo quiz, sorry, scientific test, called the Passionate Love Scale) instantly recognised their lover's and female friends' body odours on the T-shirts – but were unable to distinguish those of male friends. So much for the Lynx effect – when a lady's in love, she doesn't have a nose for anyone else. Susie Rushton
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