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Hang fire

chronic catnip company logo thumbnailRecovering from a hangover by reading Nobody Scores! and giggling like a simpleton.

internets apocalypse nobody scoresI wrote a while ago about Indian TV advertising: “most advanced in the world, in terms of biological imperative”, was the phrase. It’s right up there in terms of brand cheekiness, too. This campaign has probably stopped, since it was running when I was there over New Year, but I was still thinking about it the other day, which is a good sign (though I couldn’t remember the brand for the life of me).

It’s about “emphasising what women want – men, as opposed to wannabes“, apparently. Maybe its memorability for me is partly because of its remarkably succinct use of a gora (Western) backpacker dipshit as a signifier for the “wannabe”, although in that sense its visual semantics are also slightly confusing to my eyes, because like most B-list Indian Ad models or “Item girls”, the ad’s Girls look as Western as possible.

“Axe is a strong leader in this category …the guy to look up to, and we know that,” says Shah [Marketing manager, Paras]. “We’re close behind, and this gives us the freedom and cheeky irreverence to take on the giant and be compared to the topmost brand in this space. There is a thin red line between fun and offence and we haven’t crossed it.”

It’s a pretty limp parody, all told, but well executed.

PS Japanman has a good post about queueing in Japan, which made me think of Get in Line Games, a company producing queue-centric group game software which queuers use via mobile phone.

Lastly this: Salvador Dali on US fifties game show “What’s my Line”, which is a joy to watch as found art and as vintage entertainment

Actually in the general context of the questioning we would have to accept that all the affirmitive replies except perhaps the last one are not misleading in any major degree however I think the last answer is misleading and we could not accurately describe our guest as a leading man.

He’s a misleading man?”

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the greater the work the easier the parody

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Flogger

Two adverts:

Bear in mind I haven’t watched British television in five months.

John Lydon, flogging butter. MediaGuardian featured this with their go-to air of rueful shock: it doesn’t surprise them, of course, since they saw this sort of thing coming. And it says a great deal about the nation. What exactly? Well, you’ll just have to watch the 4th-party embed. And then decide.

Now, there’s a lot to be said about Lydon going from verbal nailbombing to salesman, albeit one who doesn’t appear to be fluent in human langauges. What’s interesting to me is not that he’s using the Johnny Rotten persona to sell, but that he has been so easily used as a persona to formulate the ad’s punchline.

The signs are all there that he serves as a symbol, not a celebrity: his bizarre cadences are left in, but the slogan voiceover for the titlecard at the end is by a different actor. It’s mercilessly edited throughout, but most obviously cut on his punchline line about how he “thinks it tastes” / “the best”: his endorsement is immaterial to the ad and its audience, pretty much forgotten, his final scene of intimacy, supposed “home life” and personal preference as much a pastiche as his tweeds. [Don’t get me wrong, the man might well have a converted farmhouse and an Aga. The point is that that’s the joke.]

The whole script serves the central gag that it’s not about slogans, specifically “Best of British” ones: and for that purpose Lydon is a marker for a pantomime antibritishness and an iconoclasm that supposedly treasures its own opinion. He could have been replaced with another defaced national symbol, like the Churchill dog nursing a vivisected pubis, or with a mohican of turf on his head.

It’s another anti-ad ad, just like the naked/anonymous “Obama” KIA SUV ad.

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The Bourneville “Myth” ad. Appearing in, among other things, ads during Cricket on Indian networks, and the Comedy Central ads for legal online Colbert Report episodes and South Park. The gag here is how [some] Americans love how the British hate the Americans. What’s weird here isn’t the well-performed but blandly scripted tourist buffoonery of the protagonist, but how the script is at pains to be reasonably accurate about what “the old chaps” might have had to do: “defeat the French at sea or the Aussies in Cricket”, instead of going the fantastical Disney Brit route: “clean a hundred chimneys that morning, or refrain from crumpets”.

Thus we know it’s an ad designed to be viewed in Britain, and I suppose, by unjust cultural extension, in India. So why does it show on untargeted American distribution as well? Because the whole design is to foster a sense of self-selection in the audience. The viewer who recognises culturally inappropriate or unsympathetic behaviour automatically qualifies themselves for the ad’s very literally conveyed ‘elite’ appeal. It’s in marked contrast to the spate of ads a couple of years ago about chocolates or ice creams which were indulgent, unearned, naughty, sexy. Among other things, the Maltesers “light on your conscience” series was a response to those ads, and the Bourneville ads are evidence of the mainstream culture of indulgence having come full circle.

Indulgence must be earned, the foolish protagonist concedes that he has learned, as we have learned from those anonymous British extras. And that learning, in itself, is worth a treat. The myth of “asking yourself if you’ve earned it” attached to a specific commodity offers the same reward/conscience/reward system as does driving a hybrid or eating voting donuts or a reduced-fat sandwich, or learning from the British, of all people.

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Stuff on Japan will come tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’ve been reading Daisy Owl, which has been staving off the pangs and insomnia while Achewood hasn’t been updating. It’s not a perfect substitute, of course: its early stages are better than the first Achewood strips, but to my mind that means it’ll never have the eye for cruelty or sadness that Onstad’s work has.

97

clock and dagger

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