Advertising: Marge gets passionate

By Peter York
Wednesday 22 January 2014 05:18
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One hand clapping. Now that's Zen, a bit highbrow, a bit conceptual, a bit Royal Court. Now what if you applied that kind of thinking to margarine – how far would it get you? Especially if it were a kind of marge called Utterly Butterly.

Before marge was transformed into low- fat spreads, cholesterol-fighting therapies and Tuscan olive dip, the point of it was its cheapness. The argument for Sixties margarine brands was that they tasted like butter, that nine out of 10 housewives couldn't tell the difference and so on. It was a substitute, a plastic spoon in somebody's mouth. In that sense Utterly Butterly is very old-style positioning. So how do you talk about it? Who are you talking to anyway? Old-fashioned, relentlessly cheerful women on modest budgets capable of tremendous self-deception. Green-Stamps women. Shop-floor wits, the female equivalent of that Fast Show type who is a joke-a-minute and paints his willy with luminous paint.

The Utterly Butterly commercial is about solo synchronised swimming. Far out! There's this nondescript girl – the production values brief is suburban estates sporty – in a tracksuit talking to camera, describing how she deserted the team at tea time.

Cut to the girls all doing synchronised eating while she's absolutely wolfing it down (caption "solo synchronised swimmer"), followed by a lot of witty shots of her exercising indoors next to her fish tank, practising on a pouffe and jogging alongside a milk float in a cossy with weights. I tell you, it's seriously mild.

It's about her commitment, of course. And passion. And that's where the margarine's at too. "It's not a little bit butterly, is it? It's Utterly Butterly. It's 110 per cent, give-it-all-you've-got commitment. That's what this game's all about," she explains to the off-screen Carlton Sports, or whatever, interviewer and her bemused, lumpy husband.

It's idea trickle-down. Quite far down too. I think there's a bit of Human Remains in there, but they've replaced quiet-desperation-with-a-twist with a more obvious kind of suburban Absurdism. And there's a touch of the Häagen-Dazs "find your smile" campaign with a Midlands estate substituting for the dippy West Coast camp. And they're both high– concept ideas for tubs of flavoured fat.

The difference is that this approach is intended for someone best played by the brilliant Janine Duvitski, Angus Deayton's wife in One Foot in the Grave – if you need to place this particular kind of human bondage.

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