Impero’s Alastair Mills: my MAA blast from the past

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I remember so many bad ads from childhood. Take the Vortex one, where a woman visits a “bleach lab” and asks a boffin with a Petri dish and a weird voice which one performed best, “S’Vortex” he says. My brother and I used to quote that endlessly to each other. Great times. Of course, I remember brilliant ads too.

One favourite was a beer ad set in 1943 Germany. In the early 80s everyone knew the Dambusters story. The film was on most Sunday afternoons and this ad pastiches it perfectly. The long running idea “I bet he drinks Carling Black Label” needs no bigging up (interestingly a bottom drawer idea originally intended by agency WCRS for the Milk Marketing Board.)

Because it’s 90 seconds long, it has the luxury of a lengthy build up, with a soundtrack of nonsense static coming over the bomber crew’s radio as they approach the dam. Then as they release their first bouncing bomb, the story is subverted – and the hero turns out to be a German soldier who skilfully prevents the bombs from hitting their target.

It’s full of lovely details, but my favourite is the final gag: after the pilot cheerfully delivers the end line, his navigator takes off his oxygen mask and lo and behold, his voice is still a high-pitched staticky radio voice. It’s very silly, like the Vortex man’s voice. Maybe I just like silly voices.

Alastair Mills is creative director of Impero.

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