The Good, The Ads & The Ugly, Apr 2016 – Galaxy/Audrey Hepburn

Do you want things? Generally, yes – but which things? Adverts attempt to make that decision for you but sometimes they go the opposite way and make you hate the corporate world more than you thought imaginable. This is The Good, The Ads & The Ugly.

This month’s ad has been around a long time but it’s still being shown so it’s fair game.

The ad itself is fairly inoffensive. Unsettlingly so. What’s weird is that it doesn’t feel weird. Yes, there’s a general attempt to sell the chocolate as some sort of elegant status symbol evocative of 1950s Italy and the rather odd tagline “why have cotton when you can have silk”. I’d never really associated chocolate with putting cotton in my mouth and I’m pretty sure the slogan writers didn’t know what cotton mouth was when they came up with it, but OK. I’m just saying it doesn’t immediately feel like Galaxy is being targeted at stoners with a bad case of the munchies.

Where this advert really comes into its own is when you realise it should feel weirder. And it really should, when you consider the main actress has been dead for over twenty years. We’ve become so used to this technology so quickly that it barely registers that this is basically what would have passed for sorcery at the turn of the century. (For anyone still catching up that’s the 21st century we’re on about.)

The first time I remember this sort of thing being used in advertising was this much more in-your-face spot featuring the late comedian Bob Monkhouse.

Now that one does feel weird. Maybe it’s because the computer rendering isn’t spot-on, maybe it’s because Monkhouse actively addresses his death, probably it’s a mixture of both those things. Still, it’s difficult to get too worked up about it, because it is in aid of a very good cause.

Whilst many celebrities’ existing bodies of work experience a resurgence after their death, not all stars relish the idea of being used to create new material post mortem. Robin Williams’ will, for example, explicitly states that his likeness cannot be used for 25 years after his death. Too bad for all the celebs who kicked the bucket before this technology was invented, but surely something a few more discerning artists have tucked away in their final legal documents.

After all, there’s no public backlash against this kind of resurrection of the dead for commercial reasons. What’s weird is that it doesn’t feel weird.

TF

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