The sales sorceresses who knew sex sells… especially to women: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV
Mad Women: ****
Turkey: Empire of Erdogan: *****
Oh, the innocence of it. And it seemed so raunchy at the time. Male model Nick Kamen unbuttoned his Levi’s and flung them into the wash, while the ladies in the launderette drooled.
‘It was the first time,’ said the 1985 advert’s copywriter Barbara Nokes, ‘that women, us lot, were given the opportunity of ogling a boy. And ogle we did.’
Her hot-and-sudsy fantasy was inspired, she said on Mad Women (Ch4), by a real experience in a London launderette. An Irish workman stripped down to his undies. Yer man might not have been a model but he clearly made quite the impression on Barbara.
Advertisers have always known that sex sells, but this history of female executives in the macho, chauvinist world of TV ad campaigns proves that it sells best to women.
Take the Lynx ads, those tongue-in-cheek promotions for a sickly perfume aimed at men too young to shave. The idea is that it’s loaded with chemicals to make its wearer magically irresistible to the opposite sex — seduction by pheromones.
Mad Women on Channel 4: Advertisers have always known that sex sells, but this history of female executives in the macho, chauvinist world of TV ad campaigns proves that it sells best to women
Rosie Arnold, art director at ad firm Bartle Bogle Hegarty, devised some of the more outrageous scenarios, including one where a spotty teen douses himself with Lynx on the beach while a horde of women in bikinis rush from the waves, a mass attack of Ursula Andresses.
‘We weren’t just selling it to young men,’ Rosie explained. ‘We were selling it to their mums, because they were the ones actually buying it.’
This one-off salute to the sales sorceresses tried to kid us that these ads were somehow striking a blow for feminism. An example cited was the Pretty Polly spot where a lone woman on a Riviera road fixed the engine of her classic car, by unrolling her silk stocking to use as a fanbelt.
Slightly more convincing was the argument by Alex Taylor, who was a junior art director at Saatchi & Saatchi when the Army started recruiting many more women in the late 1990s. Alex helped to come up with the ‘Be The Best’ slogan, still used today.
‘It’s very important to me,’ she said, ‘because it wasn’t a washing powder or a margarine.’
But what’s wrong with an ad for marge, if it’s done with wit and panache? Nearly half a century after Terry Wogan proclaimed Flora to be ‘the margarine for men’, I can still hear his dulcet tones urging the women of Britain to ‘change their husbands’.
If regime change simply meant a different spreadable on our toast, we didn’t know how lucky we were. Turkey: Empire Of Erdogan (BBC2), the first of a two-part potted history of the nation on the fringe of Europe, showed what happens when a military junta oversees the changes.
In 1961, the Turkish generals hanged the Prime Minister, for being a bit too Islamic. And when the firebrand political rebel and mayor of Istanbul Tayyip Erdogan recited dissident poetry in 1997, he was flung into prison.
This profile of Erdogan, Turkey’s leader for the past 20 years but now facing the prospect of defeat in the polls, spelled out the scale of his achievements — defying the army and rooting out the organised crime gangs that pulled the strings of power.
Though his closest political allies gave interviews to camera, this was no whitewash. In his determination to hold on to office, Erdogan has become increasingly ruthless, using show trials to silence opponents and setting his police as attack dogs on protesters.
If you knew little of Turkey beyond its Mediterranean resorts, this compact summary was an education. And David Morrissey’s rumbling, ominous narration made it better still.
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