Friday, 19 December 2014

Elephant, double elephant, half an elephant. Twice.

Ever Decreasing Circles seems an unlikely choice of springboard for an advertising campaign, and Martin Bryce – a character whom Richard Briers described as ‘pathetic,’ ‘intolerable’ and ‘a pompous bore’ – an unlikely mascot.

Evidently, this didn’t trouble the Nottingham Evening Post, which ran this radio advertisement, in which Martin finally loses his temper with Ann’s pet elephant. As if the snoring and the overeating weren’t enough, the damn pachyderm has sat on his satellite dish.

(You remember Ann’s pet elephant, of course. And the Bryces’ satellite dish. Yep. Taken as read.)

Advertising is an eccentric duchess. ‘Whose voice says frozen peas like no-one else?’ asked some sharp-collared type at J Walter Thompson in 1970. The answer, green and tiny and sweet, was obviously Orson Welles.

Ringo Starr has hawked insurance and famous drum-shaped food the pizza (an endorsement he shares with Mikhail Gorbachev). Mop-headed misery Andy Warhol flogged TDK videotapes. Walking testosterone farm Jason Statham advertised that manliest of products, KitKat. And John Smith’s, the maker of pointedly crap beer, saw no problem in paying popular killer Leslie Grantham to sip cocktails at a piano in one of their commercials. 

Wispa, the frothy pocket joist, roped in a series of sitcom characters to promote it, including Ruth Madoc and Simon Cadell (as Gladys Pugh and Jeffrey Fairbrother, Hi-De-Hi’s delicious unrequited romance), Jan Francis and Paul Nicholas (as Vince and Penny, still Just Good Friends despite Vince’s persistence) and Windsor Davies and Windsor Davies (as Windsor Davies and the loudest man in India, BSM Tudor Williams from It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum).

In short, it doesn’t seem to matter how wide or bizarre the divide between promoter and product, as long as the likely audience has heard of both.

None of this goes any way to explaining this advert, which seems to have more in common with N.F. Simpson’s fabulously daft A Resounding Tinkle (in which married couple Bro and Middie Paradock have been sent the wrong size elephant) than Ever Decreasing Circles. Still, it’s an interesting curio.

By the way, the voice actor topping off the ad, who sounds a heap of a lot like Peter Egan, isn’t.

I owe John Williams a pint of Thanks Mate for bringing this ad to my attention, which he found while guddling in David Lloyd’s Radio Moments.

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