PETER YORK ON ADS: No 289: METZ

Peter York
Saturday 04 September 1999 23:02
Comments

I'm thinking of becoming a freelance scientist. It sounds like a pleasant, portfolio Y2K kind of life, like being an internet service provider or a personal image counsellor. The neatness of the idea is in its oppositions; we know that scientists aren't freelancers like graphic designers or TV soundmen. Scientists work for Big Government or Big Business in Big Labs. So a freelance scientist is a funny, hippy update of the barrack-room lawyer, an autodidact who tells you preposterous things. This particular freelance scientist appears in the Metz commercial. Metz is a sort of pre-mixed schnapps drink and he's there to tell you about the Metz effect - namely it blows your head off.

It all happens in that particular world that's never seen on land or sea except in liquor commercials aimed at mass youth. This world has a very particular aesthetic - OTT early-1980s brought to boiling point - and it's peopled by very particular people, dressed up as if everyone wanted to look like Isabella Blow. So in a banana-and-raspberry-coloured back-room club called Headshop, with "modern-classic" furniture and Deco sconces, and people done up just so, the girls with lots of make-up writhe around. A more conventional threesome drink Metz straight from the bottle and enjoy a mind-altering, face-altering experience.

"What is that?" This summons up the freelance scientist, putting himself about with his explanations. This freelance scientist has Byronic hair, an early 19th-century white linen shirt, with a stock, an eyepatch and a Northern accent. (He also seems to have the same effect on girl viewers as Colin Firth playing Mr Darcy.)

"Gentlemen, let me explain, I'm a freelance scientist," he says, lifting his eyepatch. "It's technically known as a judder - it kind of monkeys about with the body's periodontal atrium." There are shots of very made- up people's faces wobbling around in computer-generated ways. Plump posers, Alternative Miss World, Hispanic belles and Lillian Gish-style elderly ladies all experience judders, involving rumpling of the flesh and exposure of the skeleton by X-ray.

"I've just experienced my first judder," says the old party. "It's totally humane, well almost," says the freelance scientist.

This ad's got a hugely memorable set of words, mannerisms and special effects all built round the most basic liquor claim possible - yes, it does blow your head off. I'm surprised they can get away with it. But since they have, all praise to them for launching an unpromising product so well.

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