Brochures of the week

GLANCING through the latest Virgin Holidays brochure has provoked all kinds of deep questions inside me. Do Britons really get turned on by pictures of people wearing Goofy hats and carrying baseball bats, splattered with stars from the American flag? Presumably they do, otherwise Richard Branson would not have allowed a picture of himself on the cover giving the thumbs up out of a stretch limo. I must be out of date, because I had thought the British were still snooty about American culture. That is to say, although most of our popular culture obviously comes from there (Bud Light, effusive cheerfulness, rock`n'roll, dinosaurs etc) I hadn't realised that we were actually able to acknowledge it. Obviously we are.

Another question is whether or not the happy family is still a concept on which you would want to base your marketing strategy. Branson successfully skirts around life's oldest conundrum - between having sex and having babies - by giving us the sequence of life in reverse order. He shows us first pictures of kids rewarding their parents for their fantastic holiday with ecstatic smiles, then childfree happy couples, before moving on to titillating babes in bikinis. Confusing? That's America for you.

Like America though, you have to admit - reluctantly - that this brochure does have something going for it. Every page is studded with quirky pictures, quotes and sidebars. Next to this, your average sea-and-hotel brochure pales into insignificance.

In fact, as I turn to Inspirations' Summersun brochure, I find that my eyes have been so dazzled by the Virgin brochure that I can no longer see any colour at all. The European resorts featured (which cover the whole Mediterranean) look as dull and faded as the old continent itself. And of local culture there is not a sign. The American marketeers would have their work cut out.

Virgin Holidays: 01293 456789 or 0161 333 5560; Inspirations 01293 422800.