A pricey range of supermodels: Marion Hume reports on why the new Vauxhall TV ad has cost 3m pounds

THE CULT of the super model reaches a new peak this week with the launch of a television commercial starring five supermodels and the new Vauxhall Corsa.

Advertisers have often used young women to sell cars. But never before at such a cost. The commercial, which will be seen for the first time on Thursday, is thought to be the most expensive advert ever made for British television.

The lion's share of the pounds 3m bill went to the supermodels, who were reportedly paid up to pounds 500,000 each. The commercial features the British pair Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, plus Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Tatjana Patitiz.

Despite criticism within the fashion industry that supermodels are overexposed - many designers preferred not to use them during this season's catwalk shows in Paris - it is accepted that the top names have achieved a new status beyond fashion: they are famous in their own right, rather like film stars.

For a few days last month, the models were paid to put aside their fashion assignments and fly into London to make the commercial at Shepperton Studios in conditions of tight security. The agency behind the commercial, Lowe Howard-Spink, claims to have brought 'a whole new freshness to car advertising'.

In the Seventies, advertisers brazenly used sex to sell cars. The copylines on advertisements of the period included: 'It pulls beautifully' and 'A joy to handle and rumoured to be rather fast'.

The Corsa commercial, however, takes a different tack, claiming to send up the tradition of draping young women over cars.

Louise Higgins of Lowe Howard-Spink said: 'These women are powerful. And they are playing themselves.'

Tongues are firmly in cheeks as models deliver the script (both in English and German) which includes the line: 'Another supermodel, who needs one?'

(Photograph omitted)

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