More people are said to be buying Country Life butter than Anchor butter, which is allegedly a first. This is put down to the fact that John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, formerly of the Sex Pistols, is the new ‘face’ of Country Life. The advert has apparently had people surging towards the shelves, thinking, subliminally perhaps, if the one-time alleged anarchist and four-letter-word merchant is prepared to stand up for the substance, then so should we.
What a strange world advertising is. Its charges are colossal, its payments huge, its creative budgets outsize. Dylan had this right of course: ‘Advertising signs that con/ you into thinking you’re the one/ that can do what’s never been done/ that can win what’s never been won -/ Meantime life outside goes on/ all around you …’ Sometimes I forget how pertinent his cracks and epigrams were.
I once knew a really rich young man who said that he was going to dedicate his wealth to stopping the pernicious power of advertising, but whatever he did, it didn’t work. Why are there so many kinds of butter, anyway? You can have it in tubs or wrapped in paper, with or without cholesterol, or in various spreadable imitations, based mainly but not exclusively on buttermilk.
The strange thing about adverts is that, for all they’re a con, they are also iconic – we can all recite jingles from childhood, in which various products were extolled – several hundred brands of toothpaste, for a start. We also admire adverts. There was one for a drink called Cresta (‘five different fruit flavours!’) which had a memorable cartoon bear, whose catchphrase was ‘It’s frothy, man’. Astonishingly, or perhaps not, the artist is the same man, Richard Williams, who animated ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’
Here’s the bear:
Amazingly, you can also see one of the ads, about 21 or so minutes into the link found by clicking on my final sentence below, which takes you to a showcase of several of Williams’ adverts: