Tuesday, February 17, 2004


Will Young would be spinning in his grave. If he was dead, that is. Now, on the one hand, it's lovely that Simon Cowell and 19 Management care enough about Michelle McManus to give her album a televised ad campaign. We don't profess to know much about the advertising industry (due to the unique way the BBC is funded by you, the viewer); if you want to pose in-depth questions about that, you're much better talking to this chap. What we're wondering is which bright spark decided it was a good idea to model it on the Privilege Car Insurance adverts.

For those of you who haven't seen it, it features a lot of people shouting "we did it!" over the backing of Michelle's debut number 1 single (why?) 'All This Time'. It's saccharine, it's cheesy, it's unimaginative, and, more than anything, it just feels cheap.

Why is this? Was the second series of Pop Idol really that much of a shambles that no one had any money left over to spend on a decent campaign? Is the Privilege Car Insurance advert some kind of industry standard of excellence that everyone wants to capitalise on its success? Or is Michelle just so boring and unnoteworthy that no one can be bothered to put any thought into her ad campaign? It doesn't exactly make us think that the album will be worth listening to.

We are, however, quite enchanted by the idea of recycling rubbish old adverts to revive the flagging sales of bands. We've already seen Sam and Mark steal the Jamie Oliver Sainsbury's adverts and splice them into their rubbish video. What could be next? Here are some of the treatments we came up with:

- A beach. A bright sunny day. A family are running around and playing in the waves, the woman wearing a long billowing dress. Ten boys wearing not-entirely-convincing urban gangsta clothing run gaily across the beach flying a kite. One of them has nice hair and is far prettier than all the rest. One of them is on rollerblades, another has a large dalmatian running alongside him on a leash. Cue the song: "Woooooooooaaaaaaahhhhhh Blazin' Squad! Blazin' Squad for yoooouuuu....."
- A cloudy day. Rain. Thunder. A girl with big sad eyes looks up into the camera. We hear her voiceover. "This is my friend Javine. Javine was ever so sad when the viewers didn't want her. Javine saw her friends Cheryl, Nicola, Nadine, Kimberley and Sarah go off into a house. She never saw them again. She didn't know them if she'd ever find singing success. But the good people at Innocent never put a healthy artist down. She now has a record contract and a top ten single under her belt. But Innocent can only continue to do this with your donations. Buy just one album a month, and save an artist today."
- A generic quiz show studio. A middle-aged host. Bored housewives and pensioners as contestants. The host begins: "Okay, here's your starter for ten. Who were the band who formed following rejection from the ITV show Popstars?" A bored housewive presses her buzzer and responds "Liberty X". "Correct", the quizmaster responds. "For ten points, who collaborated with Richard X on the single 'Being Nobody'?" A pensioner presses the buzzer and responds "Liberty X." The host asks "For twenty points, and to win the game, what is the name of Liberty X's new album, available in all good record stores?" A blearey-eyed student presses her buzzer and says uncertainly "Being Somebody?" "Correct!" beams the host. "Susan, you're our winner today!"

The big advantage with all of this, of course, is that the ads are ideally suited to run around the sort of stolid daytime television programmes the artists will be presenting in six month's time when they get dropped. Ah, poetic justice, you're our favourite friend.


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