Wednesday, August 10, 2011

um bongo um bongo they drink it in the congo

There's riches and fame to be had from making an entire comedy act out of basically just coming on stage and saying "does anyone remember Spangles? Eh? Eh? Spangles?" Just ask Peter Kay. But I want to exhume malodorous old cultural items to a slightly more specific purpose than that, so forgive me. Or, alternatively, consider this: Pacers. They were like minty Opal Fruits, weren't they? Yeah? Do you remember?

My purpose here is as follows: the following is a list of adverts I remember from yesteryear (some are more yester than others), the last lines of which conveyed (and were deliberately calculated to convey, in my view), perhaps in addition to some trivial surface meaning, depths of transgressive perversity certainly not suitable for the time of day at which they were aired.
  • This first one is pretty well-known, and Googling the phrase in question revealed a fair amount of internet discourse about it. It's this NatWest advert, which according to its YouTube title is from 1991, but I'm with the writer of this list who reckons it must be from a few years earlier than that. The line here is, of course: "Course we do! It's not all work, work, work!", which just about provides the makers with some plausible deniability, i.e. they can claim the spotty little herbert featured in the ad was just referring to going out on the town, whereas in reality he was talking about taking his cute little curly-haired blonde colleague home, unlocking her vault and making a substantial deposit, followed by a speedy withdrawal.
  • That one was easy to find, however I've had less success with the other two, so maybe someone out there can help. The second one is from a bit more recently, maybe late 1990s, and I'm pretty sure it was an advert for a brand of coffee. The set-up is as follows: woman gets back from a weekend away to a flat she apparently shares with another woman in an upmarket young professionals sort of way, only to find that the other woman has had her boyfriend round for the weekend and they've been whooping it up by (among acts of a more penetrative nature, presumably) drinking flatmate #1's coffee, which, we're invited to infer, is a bit of a pre-agreed no-no activity. After a brief frosty moment, flatmate #1 decides to forgive and forget, and the two pals enjoy a cup of coffee together from the forbidden stash. As the camera pulls back, flatmate #1 says to flatmate #2, with just the ghost of a saucy smile playing across her lips: "So....did he enjoy my aroma?". Yeah, they'll say it's all about the coffee, finest Arabica beans from the Colombian mountainside yadda yadda yadda, but they know and we know there's a bit of an undertone of furtive knicker-sniffing wrongness here.
  • Thirdly, and, I think, broadly contemporary with advert #2 (i.e. probably late 1990s) there was an advert for what I think was probably some sort of telecommunications company, possibly BT, possibly someone else. In fact it possibly wasn't even telecoms at all; the only reason I think it was is that it mainly features a woman obviously talking to a (probably female) friend on the telephone. Now we're party to the first few bits of the conversation, which establish that there's some talk of men, and possibly recent nights out, that sort of thing. There's then some sort of voice-over or other distraction which drowns out the conversation, during the course of which the product sales pitch is delivered, and this ends just in time for us to watch and hear the woman say "What? Sideways?". Oooer matron, etc.
Any ideas? I'm on a horse.

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