The family gathers on the sofa for a spot of Christmas telly. After a while, it's the advert break. The first commercial shows a nymph in couture running for what appears to be the Orient Express. Without warning she's in bed, scantily-clad, extending her delicate arms above her head in agony (or is it ecstasy?). The next moment she's having her neck nibbled by a handsome chap on the concourse of a grand station. She loves it. She communicates this in the only way she knows how: shooting an ennui-laden gaze into the sky. Meanwhile, Auntie Mabel is agog. She would have reason to ask: "What happened to the Susan Boyle Christmas Special?"
It's the kind of advert that makes Chanel No. 5 the world's best-selling perfume. Using Audrey Tautou and model Travis Davenport's high-class hotness, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet emphasises the scent's three core brand values: luxury, timelessness, and crucially, sex. At this time of year, the saucy denizens of the perfume advert are stripping off, spraying themselves from top to toe, and getting filthy (in sexy, saturated colour or in boudoir black and white). The reasoning is thus: blokes like naked girls, and are often useless at figuring out what to buy their girlfriends for Christmas.
Chanel certainly isn't the only offender. At this time of year, we've also got Jean-Paul Gaultier's crack squad of bustier-clad Venuses (Classique) and Kate Moss rubbing her naked flesh with white roses (YSL) to contend with. Prada's L'Eau Ambree employs the subtle imagery of beehived supermodels spraying each others' chests with scent while giggling mischievously.
But despite ratcheting up the raunchiness with this year's raft of adverts, the perfume business isn't behind the sauciest commercial on the box at the moment. Instead, D&G Time, purveyor of wristwatches rather than rose water, is the smut-peddler in question, with its offering called Ménage a Trois. Picture the scene. An aristocratic young blonde catches the eye of a handsome young buck. They start canoodling. Then another youthful cove spots the pair and decides to join in. The trio move to a sofa where they all have a good writhe before mademoiselle's shocked mother bursts in on them (wearing a rather fetching timepiece). Phew! Chanel, eat your heart out. Auntie Mabel, go and have a cold shower. Rob Sharp
So what exactly does granny need to teach him?
When Prince William heads to New Zealand next month, he's going to be on a steep learning curve. And granny will be keeping a close eye on his movement as he meets'n'greets the Kiwi masses, because, according to PDubz's private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, "it is an instance of Her Majesty seeing an opportunity for her grandsons to learn the ropes".
Come on Liz, how hard can it be? All he has to do is smile, shake hands nicely, don't try to be funny (leave that to your grandad) and eat whatever local delicacies are put in front of you without grimacing. There might be a gentle bit of flower accepting, a few ribbons to snip and some dignitaries to make light conversation with. Oh, and there'll probably be hospitals to visit, schools to survey, museums to inspect, speeches to attend... On second thoughts, it looks likely that William is going to have a rigorous schedule, all under the Queen's watchful eye. And given that she has visited New Zealand 10 times in her professional capacity, William better get used to the idea that, sooner or later, he's going to be doing it all again. Rebecca ArmstrongReuse content