Archive for April 18th, 2007


April 18, 2007

Fizzy piss

Adverts are a really easy target. They have a limited time to deliver a very specific message and that must be prioritised ahead of normal storytelling logic; you don’t need to know why the Englishman is involved in the mass exodus of a city during a Latin America Revolution, you just need to know that wearing Lynx makes him calm doing it, and it impresses the shit out of really hot women who are also inexplicably caught up in said revolution.

It’s a form of social contract between the advertising industry and the audience. The audience accept that the adverts will not stand up to scrutiny and therefore do not ask for greater detail than they are given. In return the advertising industry get to rape all that is good and holy in the world, and are allowed to systematically destroy societal values, culture, language and laws until the population bow down before the almighty God of consumerism.

Anyway. Their simple nature gives them a form of exclusion from too much dissection. A man could go mad trying to chart and satirically write about all the logic flaws contained in adverts, and who really cares? Blot on the landscape of life they may be, and sociological fascination most definately, but the simple narrative is too insignificant to spend too much time worrying about.

The internal worlds that TV adverts exist in are very fragile. Mostly we’ll accept the fictional version of reality as they present it, but if they step outside that carefully constructed world the whole thing falls apart. It with this in mind that I’d like to discuss the new Strongbow advert – the first from their new “aaaaaah, first pint” campaign – and one specific section of it.

Strongbow ad

First off, it’s quite a good advert. The idea is clear and concise, the target demographic well catered to and the presentation slick yet charming. The basic concept is a good one – we’ve all experienced that lovely first hit of a cold pint on a summers day and they are saying that by drinking Strongbow you can prolong and heighten that sensation. The man in the advert goes into some kind of orgasmic trance when tasting the stuff, but that’s a good enough representation of the idea.

Or is it? I have issue with the background action of this advert, and I believe it’s broken its contract with the audience and has failed to stay within the confines of its set universe. The first question to ask is how long a period does this incident take place over? Judging by the amount the two lager fans drink, I could estimate no more than ten minutes, which I think is a fair time to consume a quarter of a pint. Ten minutes is statistically long enough to run into a charity collector in a pub. It’s low odds, but it could happen so I have no problem with that indicator of the passing of time – what worries me is the football match.

There is no football match playing when they enter the bar, nor is there one playing when the main character comes out of his alcohol induced coma. This can mean one of two things – that either a flash mob of sophisticated football fans overran the place for ten minutes before beating a hasty retreat, at the exact same time as our man first sipped his Strongbow (statistically very unlikely) or he was engaged in a buddhist experience of the liver for well over two hours.

This would mean not only did he miss a good portion of his evening out, but also that he didn’t see the football and his two friends will be a good three pints in by now and probably quite pissed. What is the message that Strongbow are trying to send out? That their drink is so fucking good you will become paralysed for several hours and totally incommunicable to the outside world? Maybe their grand plan is to create a nation of zombified alcoholics? Pubs across the land will be filled with exhaling Strongbow drinkers, grinning like petrified corpses and making noises like the recreated humans in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Of course that’s not the case; the football match was just used as a visual indication of the passing of time – but this is what I mean by a poor narrative within adverts. The advert has failed to make me want to buy the product as every time I see it I think “Christ! Poor bastard, how long was he there for?”

Of course it could be argued that since I’m talking about it the advert has succeeded in raising the profile of the product. Then again, the fact that it tastes like sugar fermented in pomane and mixed with piss also guarantees that I’ll never drink the stuff, no matter how good or how crap their adverts are.